March 31 University of Wisconsin’s standout sophomore Johnny Davis announced his decision to declare for the 2022 NBA Draft, held on June 23 at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets.
With March Madness cut short in the round of 32 for UW, questions remain about where the former Badger and Wooden Award finalist will end up in the draft. Despite the underwhelming loss to Iowa State, NBA scouts cannot discredit Davis’ miraculous regular season as most preseason polls had the red & white finishing near the bottom of the Big Ten.
Instead, the LaCrosse Central native led Wisconsin to a No. 3 seed in the tournament and an unforeseen regular-season Big Ten title, all while averaging a team-high 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
Almost every mock draft out there currently has Davis being selected between the No. 8 and No. 10 picks, however, the selection order among teams is unknown until the NBA Draft Lottery takes place on May 17. The lottery contains every organization who doesn’t make the playoffs with the exception of the Pelicans who received a first-round pick via trade from the Lakers. The Clippers, who failed to make the playoffs, are also without their lottery pick after previously trading it to the Thunder.
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Organizations participating in the 2022 NBA Lottery include the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder (two lottery picks by virtue of a trade from the Clippers), Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The way the lottery works is the three teams with the worst records in the NBA all have a 14% chance of acquiring the first selection. The odds to receive the first overall pick lower as team records ascend from this season. For example, the Cavaliers nearly missed the playoffs so they have a 0.5% shot at inheriting the first draft choice.
Here are some potential landing spots where Johnny Davis can contribute and provide an instant impact given each team’s needs:
New Orleans Pelicans:
The Pelicans are in desperate need of another ball-handler who can create their own shot, besides CJ McCollum — the only other rostered guards consist of Kira Lewis Jr., Jose Alvarado, Jared Harper and Devonte’ Graham.
With Davis’s ability to bring the ball up the court, this can open up the offense and create more opportunities for McCollum, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Additionally, Davis can be a go-to guy in crunch time, ultimately taking some pressure off his teammates.
The Pelicans have the eighth-best odds to receive the first draft pick and will likely fall within the 6-10 range. Davis brings instant impact and could sneak his way into the starting five or come off the bench as the sixth man.
San Antonio Spurs:
Another team to keep an eye on is the Spurs, who could use another guard to complement the upcoming playmaker Dejounte Murray. Up and down their roster, San Antonio lacks star power and excitement. If Davis were to be drafted by the Spurs, he’d be an immediate contributor on the court while supplying this fanbase with optimism for years to come.
Murray and Davis could be one of the most explosive backcourts in the league as both players are capable of scoring in bunches as well as setting up teammates for success. Both playmakers also rebound effectively at the guard position, each exceeding eight boards per game.
The Spurs have the ninth-best odds to get the top selection in the draft but will likely drop to the 7-11 range. Don’t be surprised if San Antonio pulls the trigger on the former Badger come draft day.
With 12 players six-foot-six or taller, the Wizards have the same concerns lacking backcourt depth other than their natural scorer, Bradley Beal. The remaining guards on the roster are Raul Neto, Ish Smith, Cassius Winston and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
If drafted by Washington, Davis would have an excellent shot at starting alongside Beal, Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis. Those four have enough talent to at least make the playoffs and be one of the highest-scoring offenses in the NBA.
Since the Wizards have just a 3% probability of earning the No. 1 pick, it’s likely this organization drafts somewhere between the 8-12 spots.
Unlike the previous three teams, Sacramento already has a pair of promising young guards with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. Throw in Harrison Barnes and the 25-year-old Domantas Sabonis, and you’ve got a solid core to work with.
The Kings’ draft room has seen their fair share of struggles over the years, but Davis appears like a legit sixth man for this squad that will provide scoring and energy off the bench. Given Mitchell exerts most of his energy on defense, it would make sense for them to draft an offensive-minded prospect like Davis.
Sacramento finished with the seventh-worst record this season, so anticipate them picking around the 5-9 slots on June 23.