After the NBA draft, Brad Stevens, president of basketball operations, said the Celtics reserved spot on the list for some development pieces, players who wouldn’t necessarily be immediately called upon to contribute but in which the team “could invest, put a lot of time into themselves that we could help them grow in their young careers.”
After drafting 19-year-old Alabama native JD Davison to 53rd place after just one year of college ball, Stevens offered this brief scouting report: “Very young, very explosive. That’s pretty obvious. Has the ability to penetrate the color and make matches. Has some things he needs to improve but has a lot of physical tools. A good competitor.”
The Celtics have started training under the supervision of assistant coach Ben Sullivan back in boston and they’re going to vegas this weekend to play in the summer league. It’s a serious start to Davison’s career, but like his varsity coach, the Celtics see something in his raw talent and insane athleticism.
“It was disappointing to see him drop to No. 53,” said Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “He didn’t have the best year to be honest. It’s the first time in his life that he has to actually compete for minutes and bring it every day. But he has a few advantages. He’s super athletic.”
On Tuesday, Davison conceded his poor play in his only season in Alabama, but now that he has a chance to show his potential with the pros, he’s confident he belongs in the league. “I think I’ve had pushes from what I can do at the NBA level. NBA soil is so vast for a dynamic guard like me.”
It’s obviously early days, but Davison is already saying the right things. “You really have to play defense in Boston. They’re the best defense in the league,” Davison said. “You’ve got to come in here and be a dog.” So far, the 6-foot-tall point guard is focused on defending pick and rolls and sticking with ball handlers, and he’s already gearing up to become the defensive player’s brain of Year to choose. “His defensive IQ is well above anyone else’s,” Davison said of Marcus Smart. “Learn (from him) the details of each player and what they do and how they play.”
A strong performance in the Summer League could earn Davison a two-way contract with the big club and Maine G-League affiliate, or better yet, a roster spot at the back of the bench. That presence alongside players like Smart and Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams, young players who have made the leap from late draft picks to finalists, could flatten Davison’s learning curve even further.