What defines a big man in today's NBA?
Strength? Athleticism? Having the ability to both protect the rim and switch onto smaller, peskier guards/forwards?
What about all of the above and then some?
For forwards and centers alike, the more you can do away from the rim, the better. The NBA is now all about versatility. Teams now want pure athletes that they can maneuver around while trusting that they can hang with their assignments, no matter the size and speed. It's no longer feasible to have one big man that can do one thing great. Instead, you need one that can do most everything well. There is a reason that Tristan Thompson just played 32.4 points per game in the Finals... it's because he's the NBA's version of a Swiss Army Knife. He can rebound on both ends of the floor. He can guard both Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut and Steph Curry a like. He has a decent enough post move that he can rely in in a pinch. And he can protect the rim.
After watching Davis for entire season under Tom Izzo, that's the type of player the Memphis Grizzlies are getting here. While he is very young -- 19 to be exact -- he has the frame, the athleticism and workmanship to eventually become one of the most interesting cogs in whatever version of the "Death Lineup" David Fizdale creates.
Standing at 6'10" with a wingspan of 86", Davis should be a fantastic building block defensively for Memphis Grizzlies because of his length. He's a crafty shot blocker straight on who has also learned how to time his jumps correctly from the help side to alter those attempts as well. He's smoother on his feet than most would anticipate before watching him play, which will surely help his cause for early minutes as the NBA continues to trend towards switching out on pick and rolls.
Offensively, what he lacks in a jumper and NBA-level post game, he makes up for near and above the rim. He's a strong finisher both in the air and under the hoop. He works the weak side baseline like a seasoned veteran, providing a safety valve for darting guards with good vision to throw the lob pass. He's also a fantastic offensive rebounder from that area as well, waiting until the perfect time to magically appear in front of out-of-place defenders looking to seal the boards.
He obviously needs to hit the weight room (and the team snack bar), but what 19-year old big man doesn't? It's the frame that you need to pay attention to, and it can easily take on the weight without taking away from his athletic prowess.
All in all, for a team that desperately needs defensive rim protection and a hyper athlete to pair with an established offensive post presence, you can't get any better than Davis. While he's absolutely raw, the ceiling is high as long as Fizdale pushes him to develop the aspects of his game that are below average for the NBA.
But as I said before, in a league where versatility is king -- especially when discussing big men -- Deyonta Davis may just (EVENTUALLY) be the best of the bunch.