Since the end of the season, BYU's Brandon Davies has re-entered the national basketball conversation. Last time he was the talk of the town, it was for his dismissal from school; this time it is for the invitations he's been receiving.
Davies was recently invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, which takes place May 16-17. That invitation comes on the heels of his performance at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, where he was named MVP.
The versatile big man had an up and down collegiate career. He's on an upward trend right now, right at the perfect time. We look at what that means for Davies' draft stock in our series of mid-major NBA Draft profiles at Mid-Major Madness.
School: BYU (Provo, UT | West Coast Conference)
Hometown: Provo, UT
Weight: 235 lbs
Accolades: All-MWC Third Team (sophomore); 2x All-WCC Team (junior and senior); 2013 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament MVP.
Team Record: 107-28
Davies' greatest asset is his versatility, especially on the offensive end. He ranks in the top 10 in 10 career statistical categories at BYU. His versatility made him dominant in college; however, he lacks a dominating aspect to his offensive game that he could use at the next level. There were questions about how polished his scoring moves were and what he would play in the NBA. Those questions persist but they've become less of a concern thanks to his performance in Portsmouth.
Davies averaged 20.7 PPG and 9.3 RPG at the senior invitational and shot 67.5 percent from the field. He did that against the best NBA prospects in his class. In his recap of Portsmouth, Rob Reheuser of NBA.com said,
"You almost have to wonder why he isn't higher on the list of seniors available in this year's draft. If nothing else, he's forced teams to take a much closer look."
The important aside here is not his numbers or the compiled stats, but Davies' character. Davies' dismissal as a sophomore sent a legitimate title contender into a Sweet 16 elimination. He could have left the program to start anew but he returned, determined to make up for his honor code violation. While the NBA isn't anywhere near BYU's level when it comes to commitment to virtues, coaches do value guys with high character.
Final Season Averages:
17.7 pts... 2.4 asts...8.0 rebs...1.3 steals...1.0 blocks...2.5 turnovers..29.3 mins...52.2% FG...35.7% 3 PT...68.2% FT
Entering his senior season Davies was expected to be the Cougars' main scoring threat. That title was quickly passed to sophomore shooting guard Tyler Haws (20.1 PPG, 7th in the nation), who returned from his two year mission in much better shape than anyone could have guessed. The Cougars played an uptempo style, which allowed Davies to pile on points at nearly the same rate as Haws though.
Viewing the stat alone, his eight rebounds per game are nice. The Cougars pulled down 35.5 rebounds per game, making Davies responsible for nearly one fourth of the team's boards. That makes his rebounding look even nicer.
Shooting 68.2 percent from the line for a big man is pretty good. What that statistic doesn't show is his ability to get to the line. According to KenPom.com, Davies drew 7.0 fouls per 40 minutes. He ranks 11th in the nation with that rate, ahead of big names like Cody Zeller and Kelly Olynyk.
His 2.4 assists per game ranked second at BYU this year. That aspect of his game is now drawing positive attention. He was a better distributor in Portsmouth, averaging three a game. NBA guys took notice.
In another piece on Davies, Rob Reheuser said:
Perhaps the best part of his game was his unselfishness, as he routinely drew defenders in the lane and dumped the ball to his teammates for easy scores.
(Ed. Note: Davies was the most valuable player on BYU this past season, despite being just the second leading scorer, and committing 111 fouls in 36 games. He finished with a HOOPWAR per 30 games (HW30) of 7.7. Tyler Haws was second at 5.8. That puts him as one of the more valuable and impressive forwards in the game this past season, although there is a chance that no one noticed until he showed up in Virginia last month.)
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Davies' leaping ability makes him a capable rebounder and shot blocker. On the offensive end it allows him to play above the rim for tips and dunks.
He has a level quickness not seen in many bigs. This allows him to create from outside the paint, similar to WCC foe Kelly Olynyk. He is also able and willing to get out in transition. Weighing just 235 pounds at an official height of 6-9 no doubt allows Davies to move quickly.
As I just mentioned, he weighs just 235 pounds. Davies was able to mix it up, normally with great success, against college bigs. But he needs to add strength to be capable in the post at the next level. His ability to stretch the floor is what makes Davies such an effective player. If he doesn't add size he will lose his interior presence. Without that he's just a tall, mediocre jump shooter.
Davies will need to hit the weight room to make it as a post player in the NBA. He will also need to work on his face up game if he wants it to be effective against next level defenders.
The WCC had a few very good big men for Davies to battle this season (Olynyk, Elias Harris), but it is much more of a guard-dominated league. As with any mid-major prospect, there will be concerns about his ability against better competition.
With his stock rising so rapidly it is hard to say where he will land. When his career ended with a loss to Baylor in the NIT Semifinals, he was projected to go undrafted by most. Now that NBA scouts have seen him in person, against other NBA prospects, he's seen as a second round steal.
Also contributing to the uncertainty is the general lack of quality at the power forward position in this draft. Anthony Bennett and Mason Plumlee are the only collegiate power forwards that are considered locks for the first round. Chad Ford lists every other power forward no better than "Second Round Pick/Undrafted".
The upcoming NBA Combine will help sort out much of the mess at this position. Davies will jockey for position with North Carolina State's C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell and Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael. If Davies continues to impress, he should feel pretty good about his chances on draft day. At worst, with a bad showing, he falls only as far as Summer League invite.
The Magic, Pacers and Wizards all have picks late in the second round and all of them need to bolster their frontcourts. Portland has three picks in the second round. The Trail Blazers have a weak bench overall, but are especially lacking when it comes to backing up LaMarcus Aldridge.
NBA Combine: May 16-17