After his freshman season at Michigan State, 6'10'' forward Deyonta Davis has a huge decision to make about his future. Earlier this week, head coach Tom Izzo put the odds of Davis declaring for the draft at '50-50'. One influence on Davis' decision may be the new draft process.
In the new NBA draft process, players can declare for the draft without an agent and participate in the draft combine and individual workouts until May 25th. On that date, players who haven't hired an agent will have to decide if they will stay in the draft or go back to school. Davis' decision may be leaning more toward at least going through this process to let NBA execs evaluate his draft stock before deciding if he will go back to school.
Right now, Davis' stock looks to be around the middle of the first round. While most would think the Michigan native could improve his draft stock greatly in a second season under Izzo, one problem may be the strength of next years draft. With some sensational 'one and dones' entering the college ranks next year (Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles) along with some international players likely to enter the 2017 Draft (Frank Ntilikina and Isaiah Hartenstein), it will be tough for Davis to even break in to the top 10 with a solid sophomore campaign. On the other hand, playing an extra season under Tom Izzo tends to improve players draft stocks (see Denzel Valentine).
As Davis faces a tough decision in the next few weeks, let's take a quick look at his strengths and weaknesses as an NBA Prospect.
Davis has an NBA body. He's a legit 6'10'' and 245 pounds. He could work on his upper body strength slightly, but Davis has great athleticism for his size and showed it finishing many alleyoops and put back slams during his freshman season. Davis showed also showed an ability to finish a right handed jump hook as well as hitting some 15 foot jumpers.
On the defensive end, Davis has the ability to be a game changing presence. In his freshman season, the 19-year old averaged almost 2 blocks per game in less than 19 minutes. His rim protection will be a huge strength as he enters the next level somewhat raw on the offensive end.
Davis has to develop a more all around offensive game. When finishing around the basket, he tends to want to use his right hand exclusively. Even when making a move and turning to shoot a hook over his right shoulder, he still uses his right hand most of the time. NBA players will key on his right hand and shut his post game down.
Davis also seemed to beat up on a lot of the smaller front-courts he faced while struggling against the longer, more athletic teams. In his 5 games against Purdue, Maryland, and Kansas Davis averaged just 5 points per game. Improving his 10-15 ft jump shot may be a perfect way for Davis to neutralize bigger front courts and take advantage of his 6'10'' athletic frame.
Deyonta Davis is a classic case of a young player whose offensive skill set is trailing behind his great athleticism and NBA ready body. Davis can be an immediate defensive impact in the NBA as well as an active offensive rebounder. He may struggle, however, finishing on the offensive end until he develops multiple ways to score in the half court. While sticking around for a second season in East Lansing would no doubt aid in his offensive improvement and make his game more NBA ready, I'm not sure how high Davis could climb in a crowded 2017 NBA Draft. As of now, a team who takes Davis in the middle of the first round in 2016 can expect some great defensive minutes as well as non-stop activity on the offensive glass as well as finishing on the fast-break. The offensive skill-set will develop with time as Davis is just a 19-year old kid.