On Thursday night, the Wizards selected Johnny Davis from the University of Wisconsin with the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Davis earned the Big Ten Player of the Year award after averaging 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 31 games as he led the Badgers through an arduous Big Ten schedule. In addition to being named Big Ten Player of the Year, Davis earned the 2022 Lute Olson National Player of the Year, Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year and was a consensus First-Team All-American. Davis’ stellar sophomore season, one in which he improved his scoring average by 12.7 points per game, was spurred by the confidence his coaches and teammates breathed into him.
“My sophomore year, my coach gave me free reign to play the way I play,” Davis said in an interview on Friday. “Not just me but my teammates as well, so I feel like that helped us gel together and have a really good season.”
As impressive as Davis’ collegiate accomplishments were, Wizards’ front office members and coaching staff were enamored with his character. Captivated by his competitive nature and willingness to defend, the team’s decision makers could not pass on the dynamic two-way guard when he was available at pick number 10.
“We spent a lot of time downloading (information) with a lot of different coaches and they would tell us about this kid and his ability to take somebody else off the court with his defense. If you challenge him, he’s going to come at you and he’s going to come at you hard,” Wizards president and general manager Tommy Sheppard said on Thursday night. “We were really excited when we watched his workout here. We were trying to kick his butt and he fought through it. I think our coaches were impressed with him and his ability to compete that day.”
“You can tell he has a passion and very competitive spirit about him,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I think he just loves the game, loves to play and you see that out on the floor. The way he guards, obviously he can score at all three levels, but he embraces that side of the ball.”
Sheppard and Unseld Jr. were excited to welcome the versatile guard to the organization, believing his toughness, defense and scoring ability will be valuable assets for the team next season.
“I think he’s going to be a tremendous fit for what we’re trying to do here,” Sheppard said. “He’s a two-way player, an excellent scorer. We’re excited for him…I think we got someone we can add to this team and be a big contributor pretty quickly.”
Modeling his style of play after players like Devin Booker and Jaylen Brown, Davis is an guard that impacts the game on both ends of the court and is capable of scoring at all three levels. He has spent time studying Bradley Beal and expressed excitement about the opportunity to share a backcourt with a player he can continue to pattern his game after. Unseld Jr. believes Davis’ versatility and potential for growth as a lead guard will allow the pair to coexist and create an effective partnership on the court.
“He’s a ball player and he’s adept at doing a lot of things on the floor,” Unseld said. “I think they’ll compliment each other. I think he’s going to get better and better at ball handling and playmaking.”
While Davis has his immediate focus on making an impact next season, setting goals to earn a spot in the rotation and help his new team make the playoffs, his focus has not prevented him from looking to the future as he hopes to leave a winning legacy after his career comes to an end.
“I want to leave a legacy of being a great teammate and a winner, that’s the main goal,” Davis said. “I want to win an NBA championship whenever I can.”