Trayce Jackson-Davis

Why Bilas is big fan of Warriors drafting Jackson-Davis

NBC Universal, Inc.

STATELINE, Nev. – For nearly six weeks, the Warriors have stifled their grins -- and maybe concealed their disbelief – after finding a highly-regarded college player with the penultimate selection of the 2023 NBA Draft.

They are confident that choosing Trayce Jackson-Davis, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward-center, 57th overall gives them an extreme value pick.

The Warriors have good company in that regard. Jay Bilas, who has spent the past 28 years as a college basketball analyst for ESPN, shares the team's opinion.

“Ten years ago, Trayce Jackson-Davis is a lottery pick,” Bilas told NBC Sports Bay Area at American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Resort last month.

“That was a guy where I had him ranked a lot higher than some of these mock drafts.”

Though a couple mock drafts had Jackson-Davis being early in the second round, most projected him going in the No. 24 to No. 30 range.

Why, then, was Jackson-Davis available in the final minutes of the draft? Bilas explained that the primary reason for the drop is that most teams in the current age of basketball are seeking shooters capable of spacing the floor, regardless of size.

“The one thing he doesn’t do -- the only thing, really, that he doesn’t do that the NBA calls for these days -- is as a 4-man, he’s not a stretch 4,” Bilas said. “He’s not going to be knocking down 3s.

“But he’s super explosive. Another lefty, he’s good on the block. You’re not going to park him down there, but he can go in there. He’s a big-time rebounder. He can protect the rim. With his athleticism and strength, he’s going to be a great asset for Golden State. To steal him at 57, that’s pretty impressive.”

Another likely factor in Jackson-Davis’ drop is that most teams consider four-year collegians -- Jackson-Davis played 126 games at Indiana University, averaging 20.9 points and 10.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks as a senior -- to be “old.”

The first 13 picks of the draft were all teenagers. Of the 58 players drafted, only 12 were seniors.

Still, getting Jackson-Davis at No. 57 is rather stunning.

“We think there is tremendous value there,” Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy said after the draft. “He’s another guy we had pretty high on our board. Little surprised he made it that far.”

The Warriors believe Jackson-Davis has first-round value. He gives them something they don’t have: A big man with the explosiveness to consistently finish in the paint. That’s something coach Steve Kerr has wanted for years.

Jackson-Davis missed most of Golden State’s summer league activity with a tender hamstring but was cleared to play the final two games in Las Vegas. He averaged 16.0 points, on 66.7-percent shooting from the field, and 8.5 rebounds.

Bilas waves off Jackson-Davis’ liability as a jump shooter and accentuates his assets.

“He runs the floor really well,” Bilas said. “He’s not going to be a trail 3-point shooter; maybe over time he develops that, but he hasn’t shown that.

“He’s very good in pick-and-roll situations. When he rolls to the basket, he rolls with tremendous athleticism. He’s a lob threat. I think he’s going to be a really good player for Golden State.”

Meanwhile, the Warriors will continue to suppress their excitement, hoping that Jackson-Davis can be that rare rookie who makes an impact.

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