Programming Note: Watch the premiere of Trayce Jackson-Davis' full “Dubs Talk” interview with Monte Poole and Kerith Burke at 5:30 p.m. PT tonight on NBC Sports Bay Area before "Warriors Pregame Live"
SAN FRANCISCO – The decorated college basketball star enters his draft night party with a singular goal. To hear his name, preferably coming off the tongue of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who announces the first round. Hearing it from deputy commissioner Mark Tatum in the second round would be, well, better than not hearing it at all.
So, Trayce Jackson-Davis, a four-year starter at Indiana University, carrying the bloodlines of former NBA power forward Dale Davis, slid into a seat at an Indianapolis restaurant and prepared himself for a life-changing moment. Surrounded by family and friends and his Hoosiers teammates, this would be a Thursday night to remember.
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“I knew that Golden State liked me at 19,” Jackson-Davis recalls on the latest episode of "Dubs Talk," which debuted Tuesday. “I knew that there were a few other teams within the top . . . my projection was 20 to 40. So, that's really the teams; I worked out for every team basically within there. I think I did 15 workouts, and all the teams that talked to me said they really liked me and that I was really high on their board. I was just eager.”
When the Warriors, selecting 19th overall, chose Santa Clara guard Brandin Podziemski, Jackson-Davis knew he’d probably land elsewhere. The 20th pick was next, signaling a racing of pulses throughout the room.
No. 20 passed, as did 21 and 22 and all the 20s. Maybe in the 30s, when Tatum took the mic, Jackson-Davis would hear his name. Nope. Not in the 40s, either.
So much for a Thursday night celebration.
Golden State Warriors
“I'm just sitting there and I'm just waiting,” Jackson-Davis recalls. “And then, obviously, I make the tweet.”
Ahh, yes. The tweet. Or The Tweet. With the clock sweeping past midnight and into Friday, Jackson-Davis turned to his cellphone keyboard: “Y’all will regret it . . . I promise you,” he tweeted.
It was 12:14 a.m. ET Friday morning in Indianapolis. And he was feeling a range of unwelcome emotions. Anxiety? Anger? Nerves?
“All the above, honestly,” he recalls. “I was anxious. I was like, ‘Am I going to get called?’ And then I was nervous. I was like, ‘So what's going on?’ And then relieved when I finally got my name called.”
Jackson-Davis’ name was called during a commercial, so the national TV audience – and those watching in that Indianapolis restaurant – never heard it. About 20 minutes after the tweet that will be remembered and perhaps celebrated forever, he was informed that he was, in fact, coming to the Warriors.
They had bought a second-round pick from the Washington Wizards. No. 57 overall.
Which might explain the look on Jackson-Davis’ face as he slipped a Warriors cap onto his head while everyone in the restaurant cheered and chanted “TJD, TJD, TJD, TJD.” He looked slightly uncomfortable and a bit bewildered, a tepid smile masking his disappointment.
How did Jackson-Davis go from pre-draft projections as high as the middle of the first round to early in the second? Well, Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy utilized a legal trick that became legal in the latest collective bargaining agreement: The second-round pick exception.
While most second-round picks are given two-way contracts and assigned to the G League, this provision allows a team to offer a second-round pick a guaranteed contract of up to four years. Two weeks after the draft, TJD signed a four-year contract worth $7.6 million.
Much of Jackson-Davis’ draft night suspense was created by shrewd backroom maneuvers between his agent and Dunleavy.
“I didn't talk to my agent most of the night,” TJD recalls. “Mike’s stepbrother, James, is my agent. They told me that they were trying to make a deal with Golden State, but I was like OK. That was probably at like pick 27 or 28. And I'm like, ‘OK they're trying to make a deal.’
“And then after that, nothing. And so, I'm sitting here just watching these names get called.”
The Dunleavys had TJD’s back all along. The Warriors tried to buy into the draft before No. 57, but nothing materialized. They were the only team guaranteeing a multiyear contract.
“The tweet was already done,” TJD says. “So, I was like ‘OK, whatever. I don't care.’ ”
He laughs about it now. The Tweet has almost 6,000 reposts, more than 33,000 likes and five million views. With the impact Jackson-Davis is making, the numbers continue to climb.
After rarely leaving the bench during the first eight weeks of the NBA season – aside from four starts with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors – Jackson-Davis seized an opportunity in mid-December and earned a place in Golden State’s rotation. Beginning Dec. 17 at Portland, where he produced 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes, played in 16 consecutive games before a DNP against the Kings on Jan. 25..
Jackson-Davis hears his name rather frequently these days. His introduction to the NBA was delayed more than he would have liked, but those bittersweet hours have receded, replaced by the satisfaction of knowing he can play in this league.