Why Deyonta Davis' Fall From the First Round Was So Surprising
Coming into the 2016 NBA Draft, Deyonta Davis was considered one of the top 15 or 20 players to throw his name in the pool of prospects.
ESPN's Chad Ford had him rated as the 16th-best prospect while DraftExpress pegged him as the 11th-ranked prospect in the draft. NBA analysts and insiders consistently mocked the 6'11", 237-pound big between pick 10, owned by the Milwaukee Bucks, and 16, owned by the Boston Celtics.
Personally, I thought Davis was a surefire top-15 pick. Even in the worst-case scenario, I definitely couldn't envision him coming off the board any later than the Atlanta Hawks at 21.
Turns out, that wasn't the worst-case scenario.
After the Hawks went with DeAndre Bembry at number 21, Davis' descent down draft boards was all but complete, and at the conclusion of the first round, Davis was the only player left in the green room...until he wasn't.
Michigan State's Deyonta Davis and his family have left the green room and exited the NBA draft floor area.
— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) June 24, 2016
The teenager's frustration is understandable. However, his absence didn't last nearly as long as that chip on his shoulder's going to.
Deyonta Davis is coming back out to the floor.
— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) June 24, 2016
And shortly after returning to the floor, Davis was asked to leave it permanently, by the Boston Celtics, who selected the former Spartan with the 31st pick in the draft.
The fact that he was subsequently traded to Memphis surely failed to improve his mood. Nonetheless, the wait was finally over.
Making Sense of It All
Despite what Warriors' owner Joe Lacob might say about moving on to the next trend, small-ball is alive and well, and it's unlikely to go anywhere for the foreseeable future. At 95.8 possessions per 48 minutes and 102.7 points per game, Pace and points are the highest they've been since the 1992-93 season. And with a massive new TV deal in place, don't expect Adam Silver to support any deviation from the electric pace of play.
In this small-ball era that's likely to continue, big men are in less demand. Natural power forwards are playing center, and natural small forwards are playing power forward. It's just the way the league is going. For the most part, bigs north of 6'9" are devalued.
That alone isn't the problem Davis ran into last night. The problem is that, while there's a low demand for such players, the supply was high in this draft class.
Including Davis, there were a total of 20 players of at least 6'10" tall selected at some point in the draft. Keep in mind that those are only the ones selected.
So, while Davis is surely a unique talent, he's one of many players with similar size and fit for NBA squads. Just look at how fellow prospect Skal Labissiere fell -- albeit not as far -- down draft boards as well. Big men were clearly at a disadvantage from the start, and it was simply a common business issue of supply and demand to blame.
No matter the market, though, the magnitude of Davis' fall was unjustified. Going into Thursday night's festivities, ESPN's new draft projection model, which takes into account adjusted box score stats, scout rankings, and physical attributes, ranked Davis as the seventh-best player among the top 40 players in the draft.
If you wanted to take that projection a step further, and compare his size and numbers to a similar NBA player, you'd see that 30 teams messed up in a big way.
|2015-16 Comparison||Reb/100 Poss.||REB%||OREB%|
Tristan Thompson, who was selected fourth overall back in 2011, is now a very rich man by taking on the role of a lengthy 6'9" center. He can guard on the perimeter and rebound with the NBA elite's -- especially on the offensive end of the floor. Like Thompson, Davis is an athletic rebounding machine with the youth and quickness to guard smaller players.
If he gets the opportunity, Davis might even become a better version of the NBA champion Thompson. He has a 7'2" wingspan that assisted him in blocking 10.2% of two-point attempts in his only season under Tom Izzo -- an accomplishment that, according to Jay Bilas on last night's coverage, made Davis the only freshmen in the nation to rank in the top 50 in both Block Percentage and Offensive Rebound Percentage. Thompson, with a Block Percentage of just 1.8% doesn't have that same ability.
With the measurables and skill set that he possesses, Davis should be able to compete for minutes behind (or possibly with) Marc Gasol in Memphis over time.
In the bigger picture, if he works and plays with the right mindset, he should prove himself as the ridiculous value pick he is.