Johnny Davis is a scoring assassin. While he doesn’t usually create much separation from defenders during his shot-hunting voyage, the 6-foot-5, 195-pounder excels at getting to his sweet spots, stopping on a dime, and pulling up off the dribble. With or without a ball screen, he’s able to navigate around the court and use his nifty footwork and creativity to generate just enough breathing room for a shot. He also will occasionally post up and fade away from his defenders for jumpers. His patience is key, too, as he’s able to keep his dribble alive for a while until he’s ready to strike. In his sophomore year at Wisconsin, he took 492 floor shots, the second-most field goal attempts in the Big Ten, and made 210 of them, fifth-most in the conference. He averaged just a shade under 20 points, nearly 13 more than in his freshman campaign.
Getting to the Stripe
Davis took the fifth-most free throws in the Big Ten last season with 196 of them (average of 6.3 per game). One of the benefits of not creating a ton of separation when hunting for a shot is that defenders are more likely to reach in or tap the shooter’s arm on the release. That happened a lot when Davis sailed around the court searching for a shot. He attempted 10 or more foul shots in five of his 31 games in 2021-22.
Maybe the most overlooked aspect of Davis’ game is his defense. Not only is he a pitbull on this end, but he has excellent technique and timing. One of his specialties is jumping passing lines, which led to many deflections and interceptions. On the ball, he’s relentless and generally stays in front of his opponents. For a guard, he blocks a lot of shots. He had four of them in Wisconsin’s NCAA Tournament loss to Iowa State. Davis was a big reason why the Badgers ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in defense this past season.
When analyzing bigs, there’s not much value in addressing their rebounding abilities, simply because they are expected to rebound. That’s not the case for guards, however, which is why Davis being an outstanding rebounder is a big deal. Amazingly, he led the Big Ten in defensive rebounds this past season with 214 of them. Rarely does a guard come down with 15 boards in a game, but Davis did it twice, including against Illinois, the Big Ten’s second-best rebounding team in 2021-22.
Areas to Improve
Scoring Efficiency/Attacking Basket
Davis relies more on finesse and footwork rather than explosiveness, power, or speed. He’s surgical, disciplined, and methodical. He’ll use an entire shot clock if necessary to get the best possible look. But sometimes, particularly against better defensive teams, he gets forced into taking tough contested shots. That happened quite a bit last year, which is why he wasn’t that efficient. He knocked down just 35.6 percent of his mid-range shots and 23.1 percent of his top-of-the-key threes. Overall from downtown, he shot only 30.6 percent. While a good finisher when he’s able to sneak inside because of his soft touch and ability to connect on shots from different angles, he doesn’t get to the hoop nearly enough, as only 20 percent of his shot attempts came at the rim.
It’s a concern when a player averages more turnovers than assists, which was the case for Davis this past season. He averaged 2.1 assists and 2.3 turnovers. His assist ratio was only 9.2 percent, which for a player with a usage rate of 32.4 percent is very low. While he did make some good reads throughout the year, there were plenty of instances where he played with blinders on and missed open teammates.
Ceiling: Devin Booker/CJ McCollum on offense, Jrue Holiday on defense
Others he’s like: Tyler Herro on offense, Jalen Suggs on defense
Position: Shooting Guard
Hometown: La Crosse, Wisconsin
Strengths: Shot Creation, Crafty, Versatile Scorer, Rebounding, Defensive Technique, Physical, Initiating Contact
Weaknesses: Speed, Attacking Basket, Playmaking, Decision-Making, Erratic Shooting
College Roundup: Scored in double figures in 30 of his 31 games in his sophomore season at Wisconsin and recorded six double-doubles, including against Purdue on Jan. 3 when he racked up 37 points and 14 rebounds. His individual accolades in 2022 include being named a consensus first-team All-American, the Big Ten Player of the Year, and the winner of both the Jerry West Award and the Lute Olson Award.
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