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Scout’s Take: How Trayce Jackson-Davis and his skillset will translate to the NBA


on spoke with anonymous NBA scouts after the NBA Combine to get a better feel for Trayce Jackson-Davis and his potential. (Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA Combine took place last week in Chicago and among the participants was Indiana basketball standout Trayce Jackson-Davis. The 6-foot-9 forward tested extremely well in all of his measurements.

This season, Jackson-Davis averaged 20.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.9 blocks per game. He was a consensus First-Team All-American and unanimous First-Team All-Big Ten selection. He was also the Karl Malone Award winner for the top power forward in the country.

As of now, Jackson-Davis is slotted to get drafted anywhere from late in the first round to middle of the second round.

After an extremely successful college career, there have been questions surrounding his NBA potential. spoke with an anonymous NBA scout following last week’s combine to get a better understanding of Trayce Jackson-Davis’ skillset and how it would translate to the next level.

MORE: Highlights of Trayce Jackson-Davis at his NBA Combine Pro Day

Below is a full Q&A.

Q: One of the biggest talking points on Trayce Jackson-Davis over the last two years, especially, has been the lack of a jump shot. How big of a knock is that in your eyes?

A: “Having bigs that can spread the floor is increasingly important in today’s NBA from a spacing perspective …it puts more pressure on the defense and allows your drivers lanes to attacking the basket. Having someone on the floor who is unable to space the floor puts your coaching staff in a pickle where they need to scheme around that player and that lack of spacing can sometimes be frustrating for teammates as well. That being said, throughout the year the league had heard rumblings from the team (Indiana) and his agent that he (Jackson-Davis) in fact has shown the ability to make jump shots during individual workouts and while many of us were skeptical based on what we saw during the season he has shown an aptitude for shooting during the combine, agent pro days, and individual workouts throughout the early pre-draft. The stroke looks smooth and confident so I think most front offices no longer write off his potential to make outside shots at least to the degree where he can keep a defense honest …with Woodson reportedly willing to let him shoot jumpers but TJD resisting, it seems to be more of a confidence/mental issue than anything else which is somewhat concerning. But I think most teams would have confidence in their staff’s being able to address that as long as he tests well in the psychological and interview components of the draft process. Without a jump shot his energy, playmaking and toughness will take on more importance.”

Q: Looking at his development this past season, how much did returning to school help his draft stock compared to last season at this time?

A: “I think teams were able to see his playmaking and defense take a step, with his PnR (pick and roll) defense previously being a big knock on him he’s probably still inconsistent but above average at this point and every team loves having the ability to play through big’s, especially since most PG’s in the NBA are more combo guards than true PG’s. Coaches increasingly appreciate and know how to use versatility at each position, so this gives you someone else on the floor that can make plays for others.”

Q: Which skillset of his do you see best translating to the next level and how effective can he be with that consistently? 

A: “His rebounding, rim running/rolling and ability to finish at the rim as well as his ability to be a multi-threat playmaker in short rolls and in DHO (dribble hand offs). He may be equally good in all of those areas and I see him being able to translate each of those skills to the next level.”

Q: Outside of shooting, what areas does Jackson-Davis need to improve on most in order to stay in the league for an extended period of time/receive a second or third contract?

A: “Teams will want to see him continue to improve his technique as a pick and roll defender. I think there may still be some questions out there about his drive to be the best player he can be and from a culture stand point as a somewhat fringe player it would probably behoove him to be more of a consistent culture driver from a preparation and individual work stand point. If all else fails, you can stick in the league by doing the little things that impact winning as a role player on the court (like defense, rebounding, screen setting, passing) and by being someone that sets the tone in the locker room and in practice. Also the better you are in those things the more likely you are to play for the better teams in better cities. You’ll notice there are role players that tend to shuffle around in the less desirable franchises and players that tend to shuffle around in the more desirable franchises.”

Q: What type of role do you see Jackson-Davis playing in the NBA throughout his career? Is there any good player comparison in your mind?

A: “Mason Plumlee, Domas Sabonis and Greg Monroe come to mind if the jumper doesn’t come around and all 3 of those are imperfect comps. There aren’t many other centers that are playmakers that can match his athleticism or role as a PnR diver.”

SEE ALSO: ‘I trusted the process’: Trayce Jackson-Davis reaping the benefits of final year at Indiana

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.