• Sudeep Tumma

Scouting Report: Johnny Davis' Shot Creating Ability Overtakes Athleticism Lapses

His role will serve him well.


This was supposed to be a “rebuilding year” for Wisconsin. But it hasn’t. The Badgers are at the top of the Big Ten.


They have Johnny Davis to thank for that.


The sophomore shooting guard is in the midst of a National Player of the Year bid. With averages of 20.9 points and 8.3 rebounds, Davis has leaped into stardom.


Davis came in as a three-star recruit in 2020 who had a so-so freshman season, so his emergence was certainly a shock.


Regardless, his scoring output is no more a shock to teams. And his NBA draft stock isn’t either.


Davis boasts NBA-esque shot-creating ability, especially in the mid-range. He’s lethal in the middle area with his aptitude to hit tough, off-balance jumpers.


Whether it’s in pick-and-rolls — when he’s spectacular — isos or coming off screens, Davis feels out defenders, navigates to his spots and whips out his mid-range pull-up whenever he wants.


But maybe that’s because his “spot” is everywhere.


With a high release point and good elevation, Davis needs a mere sliver of space to score off the bounce. He’ll drive downhill, stop on a dime and utilize a sweet step back to garnish enough space and pull up. At times, he’ll just elevate over smaller defenders who are almost glued to him. But these aren’t reckless shots, he has incredible instincts on when to go to his jumper.


Perhaps most impressive is how well he contorts his body. The fadeaways are in his arsenal, and he’ll twist and turn his body to angles but still knock down jumpers.


What I love is how he gets to those spots. He has such good change-of-pace ability, changing speeds fluidly. People often knock his athleticism, but I think he’s a better athlete than he gets credit for.


That’s not to say he is elite — he isn’t — but he has underrated burst and straight-line speed.


The speed shows up in transition, albeit rarely. Davis seldom runs the break hard unless it’s a live ball turnover on a steal or other fruitful looks. But he shows the speed there. The burst really shows up in the half-court.


Davis understands he lacks elite athleticism and a great first step, but he negates a lot of it because of his obscenely high IQ.


His shot selection is excellent. Davis always hunts down high-quality shots. In whatever situation, if the defender is a few inches out of position, Davis hits him with a hard crossover and bursts toward the basket. He finds those angles routinely and scorches defenses.


So if the defender is sliding hard back toward the basket because he’s scared of Davis driving, Davis will stop on a dime and pop up to hit the jumper.


This speaks to not only his intelligence but also to his effectiveness in attacking the rim.


Davis uses the threat of his jumper combined with solid handles to get downhill. He isn’t a crazy ball-handler or anything, but he’s so cerebral in his approach.


The 6-5, 196-pound Davis has the strength/power to finish through contact along with insane body control. He will lower his shoulder to create an angle and finish with either hand. He has phenomenal touch around the rim.


He seeks contact, which is why he reaches the line 6.4 times a game. Davis is shooting 77.4% at the stripe.


Then as a 3-point shooter, Davis is more than capable. While he is shooting a so-so 33% from beyond the arc, the shooting ability is there. He is capable of stroking it off the bounce — stepbacks and side steps are present — or as a spot-up shooter.


The percentage will need to tighten up, but there’s something to be said about his role as the one-man show for a Wisconsin team that’s providing him little help.



He’s a legitimate three-level scorer who has improved immensely as a playmaker.


Davis displays good vision/instincts as a passer, especially when he’s driving. While he isn’t an elite passer, he does a good job collapsing defenses and hitting kick-outs, drop-offs, operates in traffic, etc.


He’s averaging 2.4 assists on the year, and there’s clearly room to grow, but he’s always making the right play.


Still, it’s hard to profile Davis — at this point in his development — as a true combo guard. He doesn’t exclude point guard traits, he’s much more a scoring guard.


One that scores in a variety of ways. He’s even adept with his low post game.


Guards posting up is becoming more and more valuable as floor spacing takes precedent in modern-day basketball. In the post, Davis shows he’s capable of getting to his spot and elevating with his jumper. Or he’ll strike you as passer.


He’s patient, poised and productive.


It’s just another lucrative trait to pepper into Davis’ offensive package.


Davis also boasts terrific rebounding chops. At 8.3 rebounds a game, Davis’ motor and physical traits really show up.


Personally, I’d like to see him box out a little more consistently, but he does a good job crashing the glass consistently. He has good anticipation paired with length/vertical to snatch the ball out of the air.


His length really elevates his game in several aspects. Not just rebounding, but also on offense with his jumper and at the rim and most certainly on defense.


I love Davis’ defensive intensity. He plays hard whether he’s defending on or off-ball.


He has good lateral quickness, but whatever little he may lack, he makes up for it with his length and instincts.


Davis, even when he’s trailing by a foot, seems to time his contest perfectly. His recovery speed is good, but his instincts are truly remarkable.


He’s deft in one-on-one defense. But even as a help defender, Davis rotates well and switches effortlessly. He provides defensive versatility to guard 1-3 and likely power forwards in a smaller NBA. Another big plus for his NBA prospects.


It’s quite the gaudy NBA profile.


Davis is asked to do a bunch at Wisconsin, but he’s also the beneficiary of a plethora of set plays the Badgers run. It does get him a multitude of “easier” looks when Davis is attacking close-outs or gets the ball on the move. But he still gets enough iso/one-on-one situations to prove he’s a worthy shot creator.


In fact, it shows us how well Davis moves without the ball. He times his cuts/movements so well, even off screens/pin downs.


Davis has legitimate NBA shot-making prowess. His athleticism projection seems to be the only thing for scouts to sift through.

This was supposed to be a “rebuilding year” for Wisconsin. But it hasn’t. The Badgers are at the top of the Big Ten.


They have Johnny Davis to thank for that.


The sophomore shooting guard is in the midst of a National Player of the Year bid. With averages of 20.9 points and 8.3 rebounds, Davis has leaped into stardom.


Davis came in as a three-star recruit in 2020 who had a so-so freshman season, so his emergence was certainly a shock.


Regardless, his scoring output is no more a shock to teams. And his NBA draft stock isn’t either.


Davis boasts NBA-esque shot-creating ability, especially in the mid-range. He’s lethal in the middle area with his aptitude to hit tough, off-balance jumpers.


Whether it’s in pick-and-rolls — when he’s spectacular — isos or coming off screens, Davis feels out defenders, navigates to his spots and whips out his mid-range pull-up whenever he wants.


But maybe that’s because his “spot” is everywhere.


With a high release point and good elevation, Davis needs a mere sliver of space to score off the bounce. He’ll drive downhill, stop on a dime and utilize a sweet step back to garnish enough space and pull up. At times, he’ll just elevate over smaller defenders who are almost glued to him. But these aren’t reckless shots, he has incredible instincts on when to go to his jumper.


Perhaps most impressive is how well he contorts his body. The fadeaways are in his arsenal, and he’ll twist and turn his body to angles but still knock down jumpers.


What I love is how he gets to those spots. He has such good change-of-pace ability, changing speeds fluidly. People often knock his athleticism, but I think he’s a better athlete than he gets credit for.


That’s not to say he is elite — he isn’t — but he has underrated burst and straight-line speed.


The speed shows up in transition, albeit rarely. Davis seldom runs the break hard unless it’s a live ball turnover on a steal or other fruitful looks. But he shows the speed there. The burst really shows up in the half-court.


Davis understands he lacks elite athleticism and a great first step, but he negates a lot of it because of his obscenely high IQ.


His shot selection is excellent. Davis always hunts down high-quality shots. In whatever situation, if the defender is a few inches out of position, Davis hits him with a hard crossover and bursts toward the basket. He finds those angles routinely and scorches defenses.


So if the defender is sliding hard back toward the basket because he’s scared of Davis driving, Davis will stop on a dime and pop up to hit the jumper.


This speaks to not only his intelligence but also to his effectiveness in attacking the rim.


Davis uses the threat of his jumper combined with solid handles to get downhill. He isn’t a crazy ball-handler or anything, but he’s so cerebral in his approach.


The 6-5, 196-pound Davis has the strength/power to finish through contact along with insane body control. He will lower his shoulder to create an angle and finish with either hand. He has phenomenal touch around the rim.


He seeks contact, which is why he reaches the line 6.4 times a game. Davis is shooting 77.4% at the stripe.


Then as a 3-point shooter, Davis is more than capable. While he is shooting a so-so 33% from beyond the arc, the shooting ability is there. He is capable of stroking it off the bounce — stepbacks and side steps are present — or as a spot-up shooter.


The percentage will need to tighten up, but there’s something to be said about his role as the one-man show for a Wisconsin team that’s providing him little help.


He’s a legitimate three-level scorer who has improved immensely as a playmaker.


Davis displays good vision/instincts as a passer, especially when he’s driving. While he isn’t an elite passer, he does a good job collapsing defenses and hitting kick-outs, drop-offs, operates in traffic, etc.


He’s averaging 2.4 assists on the year, and there’s clearly room to grow, but he’s always making the right play.


Still, it’s hard to profile Davis — at this point in his development — as a true combo guard. He doesn’t exclude point guard traits, he’s much more a scoring guard.


One that scores in a variety of ways. He’s even adept with his low post game.


Guards posting up is becoming more and more valuable as floor spacing takes precedent in modern-day basketball. In the post, Davis shows he’s capable of getting to his spot and elevating with his jumper. Or he’ll strike you as passer.


He’s patient, poised and productive.


It’s just another lucrative trait to pepper into Davis’ offensive package.


Davis also boasts terrific rebounding chops. At 8.3 rebounds a game, Davis’ motor and physical traits really show up.


Personally, I’d like to see him box out a little more consistently, but he does a good job crashing the glass consistently. He has good anticipation paired with length/vertical to snatch the ball out of the air.


His length really elevates his game in several aspects. Not just rebounding, but also on offense with his jumper and at the rim and most certainly on defense.


I love Davis’ defensive intensity. He plays hard whether he’s defending on or off-ball.


He has good lateral quickness, but whatever little he may lack, he makes up for it with his length and instincts.


Davis, even when he’s trailing by a foot, seems to time his contest perfectly. His recovery speed is good, but his instincts are truly remarkable.


He’s deft in one-on-one defense. But even as a help defender, Davis rotates well and switches effortlessly. He provides defensive versatility to guard 1-3 and likely power forwards in a smaller NBA. Another big plus for his NBA prospects.


It’s quite the gaudy NBA profile.


Davis is asked to do a bunch at Wisconsin, but he’s also the beneficiary of a plethora of set plays the Badgers run. It does get him a multitude of “easier” looks when Davis is attacking close-outs or gets the ball on the move. But he still gets enough iso/one-on-one situations to prove he’s a worthy shot creator.


In fact, it shows us how well Davis moves without the ball. He times his cuts/movements so well, even off screens/pin downs.


Davis has legitimate NBA shot-making prowess. His athleticism projection seems to be the only thing for scouts to sift through.

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