Wizards excited about #10 overall pick Johnny Davis’s competitiveness and “untapped potential”

Johnny Davis Wizards

The Washington Wizards finished the 2022 NBA Draft by making a selection at their 10th overall pick as they did not feel the demands to trade up were reasonable. Pipedream point guard Jaden Ivey fell to the 5th overall selection after being heavily mocked at 4th overall to the Kings, but Wizards president and general manager Tommy Sheppard did not overpay (if the pieces were even there) to mortgage the team’s future. At number 10, Washington proudly and seemingly quickly selected Wisconsin Badgers guard, 20-year-old Johnny Davis.

“I think he’s going to be a tremendous fit for what we’re trying to do here. Continue to add talent, two-way player, excellent scorer, I think he’s got untapped potential,” Sheppard said a short time after Davis was officially drafted possibly chiding those saying the draftee had a low ceiling.

“Everything,” Davis responded on what he wants to improve on. “I feel like I’m no way near the maximum potential I think I could have right now. I’m just going to come in and work as hard and as much as I possibly can.”

Johnny Davis shooting at the end of his Wizards pre-draft workout on June 2

In his sophomore season at Wisconsin, Davis averaged 19.7 points on a .427/.306/.791 shooting slash and 8.2 rebounds in 34.2 minutes per game. Davis has been working on his 3-point shot throughout the draft process and some of his poor shooting percentages are the result of late in-the-shot clock Hail Marys as the ball was often in his hands. Everyone the Wizards talked to including the likes of Michigan head coach and former Bullet Juwan Howard raved about Davis’s competitiveness, basketball IQ, and character.

“He’s a competitor and he’s got a champion’s heart,” Sheppard described. “You challenge him, he’s going to come at you. He’s going to come at you hard.”

“It definitely comes from growing up with a twin brother,” Davis recognized as the origin of his competitive spirit. “I feel like you can only understand it if you have a twin brother or twin sister, but just that competitiveness and wanting to be better than the other.”

For Wes Unseld Jr. who did not have as much time to spend watching and studying college prospects, while coaching during the season, the interview process at the Combine in Chicago and solo pre-draft workout in DC stood out to the now second-year head coach. It is just a small part in the front office’s process to evaluate a prospect as it is supposed to only confirm their already conducted research, but for Unseld it was the bulk of his interaction.

“Take him to the [white]board and have him walk me through different situations, different defensive scenarios, and just see where he felt comfortable,” Unseld shared. “He’s was able to draw plays and do some different things on the board that were impressive.” Of course, such a pre-draft exercise was also aced by 2018 draft pick Troy Brown Jr. that did not end up as well, but no need to be pessimistic.

After most of his playing experience at the collegiate level took place at the small forward position, Davis will be asked to spend time as a similar style three-level shooting guard and backup to Bradley Beal, but at times also playing point guard alongside Beal. At least initially, Washington is most seeking a strong and versatile on-ball defender.

“He could go between the 1 and the 2 pretty easily. I have great confidence in our backcourt that Bradley can handle the ball, both positions seamlessly,” Sheppard assessed. “We wouldn’t have taken him if we didn’t have confidence he could be an excellent defender.”

“As a two-way player, especially on the defensive end,” Davis explained his fit with the Wizards. “You can never control if the ball goes in the hoop or not, but you can always control your effort and intensity on the defensive end.”

With Dyson Daniels off the board at 8th overall to the Pelicans, Washington’s chances to improve their currently non-existent point guard depth was not plausible as they also wisely did not overpay for a veteran ball handler like Malcolm Brogdon that was all noise earlier in the week. Tommy Sheppard spun that he never expected to find his 2022-23 starting point guard by draft night, so best guess is a few days into free agency (after a meeting with Beal on June 30 at 6 pm) if the Wizards have still been unable to sign a Delon Wright, Tyus Jones, or Collin Sexton type should they be interested, then they will look at the trade market like Monte Morris.

“It wasn’t there. I think a lot of times, you force something on draft night, you’re taking away the opportunity in free agency,” Sheppard said when asked if the Wizards were close to acquiring a starting veteran point guard on draft night. “It’s an interesting free agency because there’s not a ton of money in the systems. There’s not a lot of top, top tier free agents. Point guard all along I felt was going to come after the draft, not during the draft.”