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Sheppard feels Wizards 'took a step forward' by drafting Davis originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Wizards selected Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis 10th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday night, a move that made plenty of sense both positionally and talent-wise.
Just over 12 hours removed from the selection, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard joined the Sports Junkies and said he feels the club "took steps forward" by picking Davis.
“Player of the Year in one of the best conferences in the country," Sheppard said. "He can fill it up, but he’s a two-way player. He’s committed on the defensive end. We’re excited. We took steps forward. That was a big commitment last night with him, knowing that we’ve got a big need at point guard."
As a sophomore in 2021-22, Davis averaged 19.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game with the Badgers last season. He was named Big Ten Player of the Year and led Wisconsin to a share of the conference's regular-season title.
Although the addition of Davis fills a need at guard for the Wizards, Sheppard insisted that the selection of the 20-year-old was largely due to him being the best player available when it was Washington's turn to pick.
"You’ve really got to draft for the best player available. I think we’ve learned over the years that when you try to draft for need and there’s not someone there, you’re never going to be happy if you took for need with a player that you’re not excited about," Sheppard said.
Davis played primarily shooting guard at Wisconsin but does have experience running the point guard position as well. The Wizards entered Thursday night in need of a point guard. Washington's brass left the evening hoping the team's point guard of the future is now in place.
Sheppard understands that Davis isn't a traditional point guard, though. But the Wizards' first-round pick has demonstrated the ability to handle the ball, something Washington specifically wanted to add during the draft.
"I think the most important thing is you have a couple of ball-handlers on the floor. We like to even have three ball-handlers on the floor," Sheppard said. "You can create from anywhere, you can create for yourself, you can create for your teammates. But it really does spread the floor out. If they’re all shooters and able to guard, I think we’ll be able to do a lot of things – be hard to guard."
During his two years at Wisconsin Davis was more of a combo-guard, capable of playing both positions but is a scorer first. With free agency set to begin next week, the Wizards' general manager still plans for his team to be active in the point guard market.
"I think we’ll find a guard, a point guard out there that’s capable of initiating the offense but also be able to play off the ball," Sheppard said.
Davis might not be the answer when it comes to the Wizards finding a true point guard. But his overall skill set was too good for Sheppard and the Wizards to pass up at pick No. 10.
"Johnny excited us," Sheppard said. "He can score, he can pass, he can defend. I think he’ll be able to be on the floor with any lineup we throw out there. I’m really excited. I think he’s somebody that’s going to hit our rotation pretty quickly.”