NBA

Wizards take on Johnny Davis with the 10th pick in the NBA Draft

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Tommy Sheppard, president and general manager of the Washington Wizards, had just three adjectives earlier this week to describe the type of player his team was looking for in the NBA draft: aggressive, assertive and relentless. Sheppard was clear that player position mattered less than general talent and general mindset.

So with the 10th pick on Thursday, Washington may have gotten a player who both reinforces an area of ​​need and brings the qualities Sheppard was looking for. The Wizards selected Johnny Davis, a 6-foot-5, 194-pound guard whom Sheppard and coach Wes Unseld Jr. view as a high-IQ scorer with a desire to play defense.

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Davis led Wisconsin with 19.7 points and 8.7 rebounds as a sophomore last season and was named Big Ten Player of the Year. He played primarily as a small forward for the Badgers, but Sheppard is so confident in both Davis’ grip and his basketball savvy that he thinks the 20-year-old could switch between point guard and shooter .

“On the court, he understands the game very well. He learns fast – we couldn’t find a coach who could compliment him enough on his basketball IQ, his character, his athleticism,” Sheppard said. “I think he’s an underrated passer – I’ll continue to say he’s a great passer. He didn’t do much in college, so I’m trying to subliminally encourage him to succeed a bit more. But I think he’s going to be able to score at different levels. I think he’s excellent.

Davis grew up in Wisconsin playing basketball alongside his twin brother on a court his parents built in their backyard. There, the twins fought countless battles that made Davis a fierce competitor with a penchant for showing up in big games for the Badgers. He had a gem of 37 points and 14 rebounds against the then No. 1. 3 Purdue in January and a 30-point blast against then-No. 12 Houston in November that initially put him on the NBA scout card.

“I feel like you can only really relate if you have a twin brother or a twin sister,” Davis said on a conference call, “just wanting to be better than the other.”

Scoring aside, Unseld is very happy to see how Davis is defending. The coach was impressed with Davis’ ability to craft defensive plays on demand during the 20-year-old’s interview process with the Wizards – Davis worked for the team on June 2.

“The fact that he embraces that side is a big part – you give yourself a chance. He seems like a very cerebral player,” Unseld said. to accomplish. But I think he will choose [defense] rapidly. If you have these two intangible assets, you really give yourself the opportunity to be the elite in this field.

Bradley Beal rehabilitates his wrist and a local basketball court

Although Sheppard sees Davis as a potential running back, his selection will likely have no effect on Washington’s quest to find a permanent solution at point guard. The Wizards won’t want to hand over point guard duties to a rookie, and Sheppard said Thursday that Washington would be happy to have three ball handlers on the field at a time.

The general manager may have also taken into account that while his and Unseld’s ideal version of a playmaker is a more traditional general in the field who prioritizes organizing the attack and passing score, traditional playmakers are increasingly rare.

“We’re going to try to have three ball handlers there, we’re going to try to keep it very open when you have [Kristaps Porzingis] and [Bradley Beal], competent goalscorers. You put [Kyle Kuzma] the low, [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] over there, now you have Johnny, another guy who can fill it in a bit. I think it’s exciting to do this,” Sheppard said. “The fact that [Davis] is a good rebounder which increases some of the other things we expect of him. Were excited. On draft night, everyone is undefeated, everyone is excited. We really are.

Washington selected 18-year-old Yannick Nzosa, a 6-foot-11 center from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the No. 54 pick.

Wizards can now move on to the first item on their to-do list: re-sign Beal. The guard, who turns 29 on Tuesday, is eligible to sign a five-year contract worth around $250 million next month following a season cut short by a left wrist injury.

Sheppard hailed Beal as a franchise centerpiece at a press conference Monday and said he expects him to be in top form by the time Washington opens training camp in September. The Wizards will then travel to Japan to play a pair of preseason games.

“I just look at the player, and I know he’s someone you can build your franchise around,” Sheppard said. “I know he’s going to have a great season ahead. where he is now [in his rehab] It’s not where he will be in a month, and in two months, as we prepare to go to Japan, I think he will be in great shape in terms of shooting.

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