Back in early April, few people thought former BYU forward Brandon Davies would be selected in Thursday night's NBA draft. But a breakthrough performance at the Portsmouth Invitational and subsequent solid showings in various workouts have changed his draft prospects substantially.
Davies finished out his BYU career averaging 17.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game as a senior, but despite the strong finish most NBA scouts didn’t regard him as a potential draftee. Most of the doubts revolved around his relatively slight frame — BYU listed him at 6 foot 9 and 235 pounds — and his subsequent ability to bang down low, particularly on the defensive end.
Then came the Portsmouth Invitational.
Davies rose above the other 63 NBA draft hopefuls during the workouts and scrimmages that took place from April 10-13 in Portsmouth, Va. He averaged 20.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and shot 68 percent from the field while leading his team to the tournament championship.
His play earned him MVP honors for the invitational and, more importantly, ushered him on to the scene as a potential NBA draft pick.
"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," wrote Rob Reheuser of NBA.com. "Davies brought the full arsenal to Portsmouth, and left town having greatly enhanced his draft status."
Davies’ Portsmouth performance led to an invite to the 60-player NBA draft combine May 16-17 in Chicago, which in turn led to several team workouts.
On June 15 he was invited to work out for the Utah Jazz, which was his eighth workout at the time, but certainly not his last. Davies was scheduled to work out with at least five more teams leading up to Thursday's draft.
“Every workout’s been great and it's been a blessing just to be invited to them,’’ the Deseret News reported Davies as saying after his Utah Jazz workout. “It’s been a lot of fun — the hard work paying off. Everyone’s been real positive and real open and honest.’’
Davies showed noticeable improvements during his four-year career at BYU and was quick to credit the coaching staff for a lot of his development.
BYU assistant coach Mark "Pope was really good at preparing me,” Davies told BYU's student newspaper, The Digital Universe. “The stuff that we did, and the workouts helped me to kind of change my game and change my approach to things, to start playing more as if I was ready to play at that level. That definitely helped me, having him come in and help me out and just kind of change, you know, my work ethic and things like that.”
The most optimistic projections have Davies going late in the second round. Both of CBS Sports' draft experts, Matt Moore and Gary Parrish, have him going late, to the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 55 and to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 59, respectively.
Concerns still persist about his NBA readiness.
"Davies can do a lot of things at the next level. The question is whether he can do any one of those things well enough to be a rotation player," wrote Jonathan Tjarks of SBNation.com. "He isn't a great shooter, rebounder or defensive player and no team is going to allow him to create much offense for himself, at least early in his career."
Regardless of whether hed gets drafted Thursday, Davies' performance during draft workouts should earn him a camp invite. He'll then have a prime opportunity to prove he belongs.
"I'm really happy for Brandon," BYU coach Dave Rose told the Deseret News. "His time here was one of the most successful times as far as winning games and postseason runs of probably any player that's been here."
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
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