JD Davison is a freshman who played for Alabama this season. A highly touted point guard prospect, 5 star recruit and top 15 in his generation on most recruiting sites, expectations were sort of high for Davison. He spot all of his life so far in Alabama, winning Mr Basketball twice, and averaging over 30 points as senior in high school. A lot of people saw him as a one and done, given his vision and athleticism. People hoped his half court offense would level up this year and make him a lottery prospect. That didn’t happen. He played a smaller role in Alabama’s guard heavy roster. Usually a backup point guard, Davison focused more on getting other involved than getting his own. Lets look at all the things that make the young JD Davison such an interesting prospect.
The athleticism in transition is jaw dropping. The first step is good, but not elite. Once he has space and is able to reach top speed, he’s impossible to stop. Elite vertical athlete, had a few head to the rim dunk. Great hair as well. He is composed in transition most of the time and moves the ball fast. I like his decision making in general. The ball doesn’t stick and he gets guys involved. The handle is basic for a point guard. If you slow him down and make him play in the half court his burst and explosiveness don’t really show, unless it’s a cut.
Superb combination of vision and composure. Both as a connective tissue playmaker and as a primary on ball instigator, JD Davison gets easy looks for guys. He sees plays happen before others. Knows how to deliver the pass to the right guy at the exact right microsecond when they are free around the rim. He is also very capable of creating open 3s for teammates. Sadly, for him and his assist total, Alabama finished around 300th in 3pt%. If he was playing for an average shooting team, he would probably average 1 or 1.5 more assist per game, if not even more. Some of them weren’t even shot, but end up with his teammates dribbling out of bounds or stepping on the line. In this sense, he reminds me of John Wall. Wall has the same instinct of how to manipulate defenses and swing to ball to the corner at the perfect moment.
Pressure doesn’t really bother him. Teams send double teams at him regularly, and by the end of the season he really figured them out. He would dribble away at the right angle at a composed manner and create ease 3 on 2 situations for his team, usually finding teammate in the high post. His teammates didn’t really capitalize on those opportunities as often as you would want them to. In the NBA, the 3 on 2 that he creates will end up as 3s or Alley Oops.
He processes the game quickly and moves the ball very fast. He also turns the ball over a ton. Half of that is his inclination to really push it in transition, knowing that its his best opportunity to score. Those forced possessions end up as turnovers quite often. But when he’s focused on playing the right way, in the flow of the offense his decision making is fast and of a high quality. Some of the turnovers are also a product of that processing speed. The body doesn’t keep up with the mind. The passes aren’t as precise as they should be, or a teammate cuts not expecting JD to find him open in the corner. Reminds me of players like Cole Anthony and Cade Cunningham. They also had a lot of turnovers, both were in situations that weren’t ideal in college, and as soon as they step in the NBA, their turnover numbers basically drop by 50%. That makes me very optimistic about JD become quite the creator and decision maker in the NBA.
He is a lot more comfortable finding guys for 3 out of the PnR than the roller. I wonder if that is just lack of practice because he played in a smaller school in Alabama, and isn’t used to playing next to a proper roll man. Alabama had a seven footer, but he also isn’t a good screen and roll big, more a rim protector hustle player. The lack of experience against NBA caliber talent is also why he struggles to pass over bigger players.
The halfcourt scoring is barely a thing. He really struggles to create stuff for himself. This was the case in high school as well. You never got the sense that he knows who to leverage his athletic gifts in a halfcourt set. He would settle for or attempt a lot of stepback 3s. This is mostly due to the limited handle, but he also lacks that driving intuition. This is the biggest difference between him and Wall. Wall was a much more advanced ball handler and knew how to impact scoring in the half court as well as in transition at the same age. The shooting mechanics look fine, but he only took 3s when open and didn’t really finish at a good clip. Its really hard to see him become a killer in the halfcourt. Even when he somehow wiggles his way to the rim, his touch and finishing don’t blow you away.
He makes up for it with off ball play. He is also a decent cutter and very aggressive on the offensive glass.
He is really engaged and active on the defensive end. I feel like his focus when guarding off ball is long and effective. He rarely loses his man for backdoor cuts. Like his ability to gauge the distance between him and his man. He communicates constantly, both in transition and in half court. His agility and awareness help him switch well, and stay with shooters through multiple screens. Likes to help and is good at swiping at the ball, often getting pick six steals. Slithery enough to break up DHO plays on the defensive end. Really likes getting rebounds and pushing in transition. Sometimes too much and doesn’t fill the lane. Needs to learn how to strike a balance between getting the board and doing the right play in transition. Due to the rebounding prowess and athleticism, he could be able to pressure the rim similar to what the much chastised Russell Westbrook as been doing for years, or at least to the level that D’Aaron Fox does it. Has good timing and offers some weakside rim protection, which is rare for 6 3 guards.
Not so sure how he switches his hips. When he applies pressure on a ball handler they rarely get by him, but if he leaves them a bit of space to gain steam, they regularly go by him.
To be ignorant of what occurred before your Time is to always remain the Sacramento Kings – Marcus Tullius Cicero
In this part of the profile we will look at how the prospect compares to players drafted since 2008. And yes, that is a real quote by Cicero from his Ranadivian Disputations
Quite the hills and valleys production. Lets start with the ugly. The amount of shots taken is historically bad, especially for 2. While he is finishing them at a high level, its just so low. Probably due to the lack of advanced handle. One would think that is a easy to fix problem, but you never know. The turnovers are historically bad, but I’m an optimist about them decreasing significantly as his career progresses.
On the positive side, he is an outlier passing prospect, both his assist% and assists per 100 show that. Whats also important to note, he excels as a guy who creates open 3s and his team shot them incredibly poorly. If he was on a better shooting team, maybe he finishes I with a 95 or even 99 percentile in his passing numbers. The second super encouraging number is the lack of fouls. He plays good defense for the most part and doesn’t shy away from aggression, steals blocks etc. Fouls and defense are usually the two biggest factors that hinder playing time for young players. I’m optimistic about his chances of getting minutes as a rookie because he never fouls and is a good defender, with good focus and tools. Unless he gets coached by Doc Rivers and doesn’t get playing time, like Jaden Springer this year.
JD Davison posted a defensive box plus minus of 1,1, a block rate of 1,5, steal rate of 1,9, offensive rebounding rate of 4,5 and rebounding rate of 15. The DPBM and steal rate are average for a guard, but the rest is pretty impressive for a 6 3 freshman. If we look for freshman of similar stature who posted a similar DPBM we get the following list of guys
Between fine and bad. None of them really jumps out as a stopper, but most of them are players who you can keep on the floor for extended minutes in the playoffs. Judging on the tape, his athleticism and age, I would say he levels out at the top of this group. To me, a Maxey or even better level of defender is in the future of young, fun, athletic JD Davison.
Will He Be Able To Space the Floor
JD Davison posted a free thow percentage of 72,8, a three point percentage of a rough 29,3 percent and he shoot them at the volume of 5,7 per 100 possessions. If we look up freshman of similar stature who posted numbers similar to his, we get the following set of players.
Not great, but not hopeless either. All of them improved and were or are better shooters than what they showed in college. The worst outcome of the bunch is Dunn, who is hovering around 30% in the NBA, with a lower volume than he posted in college. Ja is still young and is improving. Clarkson is the highest outcome, but I’m pessimistic about JD reaching it. To me , if everything goes well, he is a floor spacer to the level of Jrue Holiday, someone who is between 36-37% for most of his career, on 3 or 4 attempts per game. But I see Melton as the most realistic outcome.
Creation for Others
JD Davison posted usage of 20,6%, had an assist rate just shy of 30, with 29,6%, and had an assist to turnover ratio of 1,4. I was surprised by the assist to turnover ratio. I was totally convinced it would be negative since the overall turnover numbers are sort of historically bad. If he cuts those in half, he will be around an assist to turnover ration of 3, which is a stellar mark in the NBA.
If we look for freshman of similar statue, who posted some of these numbers we get this group of guys:
A very long list of very good or great creators on the next level. While a lot of his impact will depends on the rest of his offensive game, I think Davison has the chance to be at the top , or very close, out of this group of guys. Fox and Payton are the two guys with the best assist numbers, with 8 and 7. JD will land somewhere in that range if everything goes well. In the right system, with a better handle and surrounded with good shooters and cutters he could even become one of the best passers in the league with 9+ assist per game seasons.
JD Davison posted usage of 20,6 and a true shooting percentage of 55,6. With all his struggles in the half court, the bad numbers from 3 point range, the 55,6 percent is a positive indicator and nice surprise. If we look for players who posted similar numbers, and were freshmen of similar stature we get the following group of players:
Not a group of guys that sets the world on fire scoring. But some of them are good enough to be a third option in some lineups. I think JD Davison will end up towards the bottom among this group of players. There is such a steep hill to climb and so much to learn to become a good half court option. Even if a team plays uptempo, you can’t be certain that he will be a plus scorer. Better teams always find a way to slow things down, and make you play in the halfcourt. Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Crawford are unattainable ceilings. You are hoping for a Gary Harris outcome as a scorer, around 15 per game with league average efficiency. The space in the NBA will do Davison good, and increase his efficiency as his career progresses.
Four Modern Prometheuses
When we line up all the advance stats comps we get 3 possible outcomes
The scoring gravity of Gary Harris, the creation of Reggie Jackson, the floor spacing of De’Antony Melton, the defense of Ja Morant
Or in per 75 possession stats
15 points on League average TS, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 35% from 3 on 5,5 attempts
The scoring gravity of Jrue Holiday, the creation of Elfried Payton, the floor spacing of Jordan Clarkson, The defense of Tyrese Maxey
Or in per 75 possession stats
18 points with a -1 TS, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 35% from 3 on 7,5 attempts
The scoring gravity of Jared Cunningham, the creation of Brandon Knight, the floor spacing of Kris Dunn, the defense of Doron Lamb
Or in per 75 possession stats
12,5 points on a -7 true shooting, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 31% from three on 2,5 attempts
When I put the tape and the stats side by side, I predict JD Davison as the following combination:
The scoring gravity of Gary Harris, the creation of Elfrid Payton, the floor spacing of De’Antony Melton, the defense of Tyrese Maxey
Or in per 75 possession stats
15 points on league average TS, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 35% from 3 on 5,5 attempts
Good Rookie Season 75
10 points, 5 rebounds 6,5 assists
Bad Rookie Season per 75
8 points 4 rebounds 4 assists