There might not be a player in this year’s draft class that draws more contrasting opinions than North Carolina sophomore Ed Davis.
In mock drafts, you might see his name as high as No. 5. You could also see him as low as No. 15.
He’s been compared to Chris Bosh, Al Horford, J.J. Hickson, Udonis Haslem, and Alan Henderson; some of those are strong expectations, others are…well, not-so-great compliments.
As a sophomore, he didn’t really have the breakout campaign many expected. He was very up-and-down with his game, dominating at times and being completely taken out of games during others. To make matters worse, he broke his wrist in early February and missed about a third of the season, making it very difficult for GMs and scouts to get a good read on his game.
Like so many of the others in the 21-and-younger group, he’ll be drafted on potential…can you believe that? But his overall athleticism, sizeable length in the post, and willingness to grow could land him a fairly high spot in the lottery.
NBA Position: PF
Height: 6’9 ¾”
Weight: 225 lbs.
School: North Carolina
Davis isn’t a freak athlete like a few other power forwards in the league, but overall, he gets up and down the court fluidly, is crafty in the paint, and is an explosive finisher near the hoop.
In terms of athletic ability, he reminds me a lot of J.J. Hickson, with maybe just a little bit less dynamic.
In the paint, he is much more comfortable working in the short, 6-to-8 foot range under the rim than stepping out and extending his mid-range game. He’s a good back to the basket player with a variety of finishes, able to use his length to get off hook shots, his creativity to go up-and-under defenders, and his overall talent to go up and rock the rim.
He’s a fairly strong rebounder as well, especially for being pretty undersized in the paint, even at the college level. He had 11 double-digit rebounds in 23 games last season, averaging 9.6 per contest and nearly 3.0 on the offensive glass.
Even though he’s a bit lanky, he has still has time to grow into his body a bit. You often see underclassmen that declare for the draft put on some weight in their first one or two seasons. If he’s able to add another 20-25 pounds to his frame, he’ll have a comparable body set-up to Chris Bosh.
He’s young, coachable, and wants to improve. And don’t discount the fact that he’s left-handed. For whatever reason, lefties are usually more adept at getting shots off, especially in the post. Perhaps it’s the fact that most defenders are trained to stop players from going right. But being left-handed adds another dynamic to his game that might give him a slight edge over a few other youngsters.
Let’s start on offense. While he looks to finish aggressively underneath, he often shies away from contact. This was the case during his freshman year, and he didn’t really show enough growth in that department last season.
His lack of his size will give him problems on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he’ll have a hard time establishing post position, which is the primary strength of his game. Because of that, he’ll be forced out to the 15-foot range more often. And he doesn’t have decent ball-handling skills, making it difficult for him to attack off the dribble, nor does he have an effective jump shot at this point.
Add in the fact that he virtually always attacks with his left hand, and he’ll be very one-dimensional during his first few years in the league.
Defensively, when going up against stronger, more physical forwards, he’s going to have trouble keeping pushing them off spots and getting position for rebounds.
Even though he’s 21, he’s still very raw. He played about 18 minutes a game as a freshman behind Tyler Hansbrough, and his aforementioned wrist injury kept him from being a major factor last year. He really needs more repetitions, more in-game experience, more touches, more post moves…pretty much more everything.
Too many times he was taken out of games, even by teams that had no chance of matching his athleticism and activity inside (Ohio State and Virginia come to mind).
NBA Comparison: J.J. Hickson
Draft Projection: Late-lottery