After the NBA Draft, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens said that the Celtics had room on the roster reserved for some developmental pieces, players that wouldn’t necessarily be called upon to contribute right away, but that the team “could invest in, put a lot of time in to, that we could help grow in their young career.”
After drafting 19-year-old JD Davison out of Alabama at #53 after just one year of college ball, Stevens offered this short scouting report: “very young, very explosive. That’s pretty obvious. Has the ability to get inside the paint and make plays. Has some things that he’ll have to improve on, but has a lot of physical tools. A good competitor.”
The Celtics have started practice under the watch of assistant coach Ben Sullivan back in Boston and they’ll head out to Vegas this weekend for Summer League play. It’s an earnest start to Davison’s career, but like his college coach, the Celtics see something in his raw talent and freakish athleticism.
“It was disappointing to see him drop (to #53),” Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats told The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “He didn’t have the best year, to be honest. It’s the first time in his life he’s actually had to compete for minutes and bring it every day. But he’s got a bunch of upside. He’s super athletic.”
On Tuesday, Davison acknowledge his poor play in his only season at Alabama, but now given the opportunity to prove his potential in the pros, he’s confident that he belongs in the league. “I think I had spurts of what I can do at the NBA level. The NBA floor is so spaced out for a dynamic guard like me.”
It’s obviously early, but Davison is already saying all the right things. “In Boston, you really got to play defense. They’re the best defense in the league,” Davison said. “You gotta come in here and be a dog.” So far, the 6’3” point guard is concentrating on defending pick and rolls and staying with ball handlers and he’s already preparing to pick the brain of the Defensive Player of Year. “His defensive IQ is way above everybody else’s,” Davison said of Marcus Smart. “Learning (from him) every player’s details and what they do and how they play.”
A strong Summer League showing could earn Davison a two-way contract with the big club and the Maine G-League affiliate or better yet, a roster spot at the end of the bench. That exposure next to players like Smart and Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams, young players that have made the leap from late draft picks to Finals contributors, could flatten Davison’s learning curve even further.