Davon Reed is going to be the biggest steal of the loaded 2017 NBA Draft — that’s if he’s even drafted at all.
Many sites offering extensive draft coverage consider the four-year Miami Hurricane wing to be a borderline draftable prospect: ESPN ranks him 60th overall while Draft Express has him at 76th. Just 60 players will hear their name announced on the evening of June 22.
They both have it wrong.
While I’ll admit there certainly could be some familiarity bias (overrating your own) going on here, as the Hurricanes are the only team I watched with regularity and openly rooted for last season, Reed looks like he has the goods to become a prototypical 3-and-D wing role player, which, outside of a team’s core stars, is the most coveted breed of NBA player in today’s game.
The typical draftee has to make major adjustments in regards to his role, but Reed has been a glorified 3-and-D wing his entire career at Miami. Yes, he did plenty of handling and creating as a Cane (his 22% usage rate last year was second on the team) but his best work came in two key areas: shooting and defending.
His pro role will be–you guessed it–shooting and defending.
Reed certainly passes the eye test defensively, displaying the foot speed necessary to halt penetration off the dribble and the mental awareness of where to be as the ball moves all over the court. Opposing coaches took notice, as Reed cracked the All-ACC Defensive Team last year while receiving the fourth most votes from a panel that included head coaches and a few select media.
Reed may be a modest 6-foot-5 but his 7-foot wingspan will be advantageous against the bigger and faster talents flying around NBA courts, where length is far more important than height. It’s one of the reasons why 6-foot-4 Dwyane Wade, who also has a 7-foot wingspan, was able to become a special defensive talent in his prime.
Offensively, I don’t see Davon doing much creating but he was a 40-percent 3-point shooter for his career at Miami (many off the catch-and-shoot variety) and there’s no reason to think his fundamentally-sound jumper won’t convert. He shows good balance and a quick, compact release from behind the arc.
Josh Richardson and Danny Green present feasible NBA comps — long wings with 3-and-D identities. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor sees the good in Reed and, unlike most of his national peers, thinks he’s “appealing as an early second-rounder.”
Some draftees will enter the NBA looking to prove themselves as more than just role players. Others will come in with a mind-set of accepting their roles, and then building on top of them — this subtlety can determine successes and failures. That’s why a prospect like Miami wing Davon Reed is so appealing as an early second-rounder. There’s no doubt Reed, who sports a fast and high release in his mechanics, can shoot. But he also plays with a badass mind-set on defense. Reed battles through screens, chases 50–50 balls, and has a super-long wingspan that’ll allow him to defend guards, wings, and some forwards.
“Being a ball hawk defensively and making the other team’s offensive player’s job hell, that’s what I’m looking to do,” Reed told me at the NBA combine in Chicago. “I’m a grinder, but it’s more about effort than anything else. It’s a will to want to stop somebody. That’s what drives me.” Reed also said that he’s learned throughout his college career that he’s capable of doing more, but he’s “willing to embrace” the 3-and-D role.
This doesn’t mean I think Reed will be an NBA star.
His game and athleticism likely will limit him to role player status but if he gets an opportunity and accepts his role as a 3-and-D specialist, there’s no reason to think he doesn’t have the upside of a key role player on a contender.
Don’t sleep on Davon Reed. He’s going to make one NBA franchise look clever in hindsight.