JD Davison wants to be a ‘dog’ and ‘leader’ for Celtics at Summer League

"He’s been great every step of the way."

JD Davison
JD Davison from Alabama during a Summer League team practice at the Auerbach Center. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

JD Davison saw an opportunity in the NBA during his lone college season at the University of Alabama.

Whether Davison ever actually considered a second season in college is unclear — his college coach, Nate Oats, told Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe on Tuesday that he thought Davison was always going to leave. But Davison believes he has a chance to eventually find a role with the Celtics, who selected him with the 53rd pick last month.

“My season at Alabama didn’t go as well as I wanted to, but I think I had spurts of what I showed and what I can do at the NBA level,” Davison said. “My decision was because the NBA floor is so spaced out for a dynamic guard like me, I think it was the best for me to go out and go to the draft.”


On a Celtics team that spent the offseason upgrading a contender through free agency, finding minutes for the 53rd pick — at a position of strength, no less — might not be a priority. Davison — who spoke to reporters for the first time since he was drafted — said he hasn’t discussed specific goals for the upcoming season yet with the Celtics.

Still, Davison hopes to show what he can bring to a roster in Las Vegas, and the Celtics want to help him succeed.

“Just being a dog, a leader on the offensive end, being a dog on the defensive end, just leading my guys to a win,” Davison said.

Celtics Summer League coach Ben Sullivan said the team is still getting to know their new rookie.

“He’s been great every step of the way,” Sullivan said. “But it’s really just in the very early stages. We’re just excited to meet him, excited he’s here, so we’re just getting started.”

Davison is a raw prospect — a hyper-athletic combo guard who needs to work on nearly every facet of his game. Fortunately, he has plenty of time to learn on a team like the Celtics and plenty of good influences who can show him how to be a successful NBA player — perhaps most notably in Marcus Smart, the Defensive Player of the Year last season.


Davison noted Smart’s defensive IQ, which is “like way above everybody else.”

“In Boston, you really got to play defense,” Davison said. “They are one of the best defenses in the league. So you have to come in here and be a dog.

“I can come in here and help them improve on that and be a dog on the defensive end.”

Davison and the Celtics open their slate of Summer League games on Saturday against the Heat.


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