Hughes: Davis selection checks multiple boxes for Wizards


WASHINGTON -- With the 10th overall pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft, the Wizards were not in the range to select a player who would address all of their biggest needs, but in Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis they found someone who will address a few of them, including perhaps their most important issue to fix. 

That issue would be their defense, specifically when it comes to stopping the ball on the perimeter. The Wizards have some defensive pieces, namely rim protection and on the wing. But those potential strengths have been limited by dribble penetration from opposing guards and Davis could help that cause.

The Wizards also need guard depth. While Davis is a shooting guard by trade, there is hope from the Wizards he can play some point guard. They not only need a starting point guard but also help on the bench.

Either way, he fills a hole on the depth chart, as there is an opening at the two behind Bradley Beal. Even if Davis ends up being simply a back-up to Beal, there is value in that role. The Wizards have long searched for a reliable reserve behind their star shooting guard.

Davis is also only 20 years old, so nine years younger than Beal. If Beal ends up re-signing to a five-year deal, as he is eligible to this offseason, Davis could be just reaching his peak by the time that contract is winding down.

In the short term, Davis could complement Beal in the backcourt in lineups where they play together. Davis is taller than Beal, at 6-foot-5, and can take on bigger defensive assignments. His best skill may be shot creation off the dribble, which could help take some pressure off Beal on the offensive end.

In terms of intangibles, Davis has drawn praise for his competitive intensity, which could translate to filling the need for "dogs" which Wizards president Tommy Sheppard indicated he wants to add more of this offseason. Sheppard said after making the pick that the edge Davis plays with is a major selling point and one that was apparent in his pre-draft workout with the team.

Davis played two years at Wisconsin. As a sophomore, he averaged 19.7 points and 8.2 rebounds, a very high number for a guard. That should suit the Wizards well, as last season their guards ranked 28th in the NBA as a position group.

Davis follows a trend for the Wizards, who have favored players with high basketball IQs and high floors. The questions most evaluators have about him involve his ceiling; whether he can develop his outside shooting and whether he is explosive enough to be a star. He shot just 30.2% from three last season for the Badgers.

Davis, though, did show flashes as an outside shooter. He hit four or more threes in three games last year, including against Colgate in the NCAA Tournament. Davis may also benefit from the increased spacing at the NBA level and the faster pace of play.

Sheppard expressed confidence during a press conference on Monday that players can develop into shooters. He pointed to Rui Hachimura, who this past year in his third NBA season emerged as a reliable 3-point threat. The Wizards were 30th in the league in 3-pointers made last season, so it could be pivotal for Davis to find minutes in the Wizards' rotation.

The perfect player who could both defend and shoot at a high percentage didn't exist for the Wizards to choose at 10th overall. They addressed their defense and then some. For that, they have to be pleased.

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