Former Michigan State freshman center Deyonta Davis surprised many in college basketball circles when he announced his decision in April to forgo his final three years of eligibility, opting to try his hand in the NBA Draft.
Luckily for Davis that rather surprising decision seems to be working out quite well. He is currently slated as the No. 13 pick in Draft Express’s mock draft and is in the same position in the mock draft at CBSSports.com. Davis even cracks the top 10 (at No. 10) in NBAdraft.net’s latest mock draft. He may not have the resume and collegiate experience of former Spartan teammate Denzel Valentine, but Davis may ultimately just have the higher NBA ceiling. In fact, in most mock drafts circling around have him going earlier than Valentine.
The first thing that immediately stands out about Davis is his size and physical stature. At 6’10", 240 pounds—coupled with a 7’2" wingspan—he has the ideal NBA body type. At only 19 years of age, he still has plenty of time to fill out nicely into that frame. Even after his size, he is nonetheless a supremely gifted athlete. According to his scouting report at Draft Express, Davis is described as "a terrific athlete, smooth, agile and highly fluid, running the floor exceptionally well, with great quickness and the ability to elevate effortlessly around the rim."
Given his size and athleticism, he will be able to rely on his defense and rebounding skills to carry him through the NBA early on in his career. At Michigan State, Davis emerged as one of the top defensive players in the Big Ten. Last season, he set a school record for most blocked shots as a freshman with 64, which was also good for the second most in a single season in program history. Davis added to those numbers with an average of 3.9 blocks per 40 minutes. During his one season in East Lansing, he showed himself to be a very adept defender at the rim—a strength of his that will entice many teams to consider drafting him.
Davis’ defensive skill set goes beyond his interior defense and blocking ability, though. According to the same scouting report, "he has great potential as a pick and roll defender, already showing terrific flashes stepping out and switching onto guards and wings, covering ground and moving his feet with excellent lateral quickness, and being difficult to shoot over with the way he contests looks on the perimeter."
He also exhibited strong fundamentals on the boards, indicated by his average of 11.8 rebounds per 40 minutes to go with a defensive rebound percentage of 19 and an offensive rebound percentage of 13.5.
When Davis enters the NBA, he will already have a chance to become a valuable piece on the team based on his skills and potential as a defender and rebounder.
Davis did show some flashes of brilliance as an offensive player while in college, though that is his biggest liability as a prospect. Last season, he averaged a solid 16 points per 40 minutes with an efficient shooting percentage of 59 and a true shooting percentage of 60. His sneaky good offensive numbers as a freshman gave him one of the higher player efficiency ratings of any player projected to be taken in the first round.
His scouting report states, "He does not possess a sophisticated post game, as his footwork and counter-moves are rudimentary, particularly utilizing his left hand, and he often looks rushed trying to create his own offense."
For at least the first few years of his career, Davis is going to be a work in progress on the offensive end. Teams will have to be patient with him to take my computer off the table develop his post game to a point where he can become a dangerous scoring threat in the NBA.
Deyonta Davis has a ton of raw talent, and though he probably would have benefited from another year at Michigan State, he will be drafted for the upside he has— and it may take a few years for that potential to be fully realized.