Deyonta Davis has about one month to make the biggest decision of his entire life. Will he play another year at Michigan State, or make the leap to the NBA Draft?
At the beginning of the season, even the most optimistic NBA experts did not project Davis to leave after his first season, let alone be good enough to reach lottery status. But alas, here we are and Davis finds himself in a peculiar position. He played well enough to prove what everyone already knew: dude has ridiculous upside. But will he be able to reach his potential in one or two years? That’s the $1.9 million question.
Davis did not dominate on offense. He was not the team’s best player. Some might say he was the fourth best player. He only averaged 18.6 minutes per game, good enough for No. 6 on the team. There have been eight games in which Davis played 15 minutes or less. He only played 30 minutes or more once the entire season. For a player with so much talent, MSU did not really use him much, mostly because of all the other talent around him. And that talent is only going to grow next season.
Michigan State’s highly publicized recruiting class is one of the best in the nation right now. With the possible addition of Josh Jackson, it will be the undisputed best in the nation. What does this mean for Davis? It means he will be playing on a team loaded with talent and numerous scoring options, leaving him to be the rebound and put-back guy like he was this season. Will that up his draft stock? Not very much. So why risk it?
The Association cares about potential and age. Deyonta has both going for him right now.
Here is where some mock drafts think Davis will be selected:
USA Today: No. 19
NBADraft.net: No. 13
Yahoo!: No. 11
Sports Illustrated: No. 11
Draft Express: No. 13
ESPN: No. 12
If Davis gets selected at No. 11, he will have the chance to earn nearly $2 million in his first year. If he is selected No. 19, that figure drops to about $1.3 million. Still, that would be $1.3 million more than he would make in East Lansing next year. That figure would be haunting him as he stays up late studying for a midterm.
The average age of the lottery picks (picks 1-14) in the 2015 NBA Draft was 19.4 years old. Davis is 19. The NBA values greatly how many young years they can get out of a draft pick. Case in point was Adreian Payne. Talent wise, not many Spartan fans would argue the fact that Payne was a much better all-around player than Davis is right now. But when he entered the draft after his senior season, he was already 23, making him the oldest player selected in the top 15. He was passed over by many teams for players that might not have been as good as him, but were three or four years younger. Another season in the college ranks means another prime year lost in the eyes of NBA GMs.
Skill wise, Davis is not quite ready for the NBA yet. His offense is in the embryonic stages, but he has shown flashes of brilliance with his back to the basket. With his long, skinny (some might say wiry) frame, he will need to develop some kind of midrange game in order to survive with the likes of Andre Drummond (6-foot-11, 279 pounds) and Dwight Howard (6-foot-11, 265 pounds). Davis will not be bullying anyone in the post anytime soon, but the NBA can fix that.
What the NBA is enamored with about Davis is his defense, particularly his shot blocking ability. Davis set the MSU freshman record for most blocks in a season and led the Spartans in rejections this year. None were bigger than his swat of Diamond Stone in the closing seconds of the Big Ten Tournament semifinal game against Maryland. Plays like that get you noticed, and Davis made his impact on the biggest stage.
Some people say, “if he is not ready yet, why not develop another year at Michigan State?” Good question.
NBA teams would much rather develop their own talent rather than have someone else do it for them, even if it’s one of the best college coaches in the nation. He could spend a year learning their system so he can hit the ground running in a year or two, or spend a year in Izzo’s system and have to delay the learning process in the NBA.
Another question Davis has to ask himself is, “How much could I improve my draft stock by staying another year?” The answer is not much.
With Davis already projected to be a lottery pick, even a standout season won’t move him up too much. Let’s say he stays at MSU, has an incredible season and gets picked in the top five. He could make upwards of $3 million in his first season, compared to about $1.5 million if he is taken near the end of the lottery. But Davis would need to have an absolutely incredible, breakout season for that to happen, and he won’t have it next season.
The NBA Early Entry Eligibility Deadline is April 24, but if Davis does not sign an agent right away, he can change his mind and come back to East Lansing as late as June 13. As soon as he signs with an agent, there is no looking back.
As a proud member of Spartan Nation, I by no means want Deyonta Davis to trade in his green and white for some greener pastures in the Association. But if you look at the situation from an objective point of view, leaving for the NBA is the best decision for him right now.