JD Davison shows what Celtics saw in draft: 7 takeaways from Celtics vs. Grizzlies

Davison dropped 28 points against the Grizzlies

JD Davison
Boston Celtics' JD Davison attempts the keep the ball in bounds at Summer League. AP Photo/John Locher

All JD Davison needed to do was make a few of the layups he missed to make the Celtics look potentially prescient for grabbing him in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft.

On Thursday in the Celtics’ 108-91 Summer League victory over the Grizzlies, Davison finally started finishing some of the opportunities he created for himself in the Celtics’ first three Summer League games with his explosive athleticism.

Davison started by burying a 3-pointer — something he later told reporters he has been working on with his agent Mike Miller, the former NBA sharpshooter. That jumpstarted a flurry of highlight plays, including the tough lefty layup above. He criss-crossed his dribble and veered into a tough bank shot over a defender. He threw a number of impressive lobs en route to 10 alley-oops, and the NBA TV cameras caught a huge grin on his face after the penultimate one, a nifty dish to Trevion Williams in the paint. Davison was having a good time.

Summer League stats don’t matter much, but for posterity, Davison scored 28 efficient points, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. We also should probably note that he is second in Las Vegas in assists per game at 7.8, just 0.2 assists/game behind Thunder guard Josh Giddey (who has a year of NBA experience and a much more highly touted target in Chet Holmgren!).


Much more impactful, however, is Davison’s ability to explode either over or through defenders, and his surprising feel as a passer in the pick-and-roll. His shot doesn’t look broken, and his defense — while raw — is pretty promising too.

“My decision [to enter the draft] was because the NBA floor is so spaced out for a dynamic guard like me,” Davison told reporters earlier this month. “I think it was the best for me to go out.”

At the time, Davison’s quote sounded like the bravado of a former 5-star prospect coming off a tough college season. After watching the way he was able to get to his favorite spots in Las Vegas, however, it’s tough not to wonder whether the 19-year-old was on to something. On Thursday, he gave everyone watching a glimpse of what the Celtics saw when they took a flier on a raw-but-promising combo guard.

Other takeaways

2. Mfiondu Kabengele wrapped up a solid week of regular-season action with a quiet night as a scorer, but he pulled down seven rebounds and blocked three shots. He clearly separated himself among the bigs the Celtics had at Summer League, although Trevion Williams dished out three impressive assists while pulling down 11 rebounds in bigger minutes on Thursday.


Kabengele still faces an uphill battle onto the Celtics’ roster, but he flexed his strengths in Las Vegas, and he certainly has some chemistry with Davison in the pick-and-roll.

3. As Juhann Begarin got a little more comfortable at Summer League, he showed some excellent flashes on both ends. Begarin moves off the ball well, finding empty spaces behind the 3-point arc that could benefit him quite a bit as his shot improves, and he was the target of a nice lob from Davison. Defensively, his distinctive combination of size and athleticism make him a nightmare matchup when he’s at his best.

Begarin is still 19 and makes a lot of mistakes, but it’s not hard to see what the Celtics liked when they burned an early second-round pick on him last offseason. He finished with 19 points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals.

4. Roxbury native A.J. Reeves made his first appearance at Summer League and promptly cashed in a 3-pointer.

5. The Celtics have seemed intentional about playing their main guys for big minutes in exhibition contests. If playing time is indicative of a shot at making the final roster, keep an eye on Brodric Thomas, Begarin and Kabengele in addition to Hauser, Davison and Matt Ryan. In any case, it certainly seems plausible that at least one roster spot — in addition to the final 2-way slot — could be in play for the Vegas contingent.


6. Both Ryan and Sam Hauser sat out on Thursday for the second game in a row. Ryan injured his ankle burying a wild game-winning 3-pointer on Monday. Hauser re-aggravated a right shoulder injury on Monday as well, which might help explain the shooting struggles from a phenomenal shooter.

7. The Celtics have one more game in Las Vegas on either Saturday or Sunday. They still have an outside shot at the Summer League championship game — which is decided by best record, followed by point differential.

The Celtics will likely tie a number of teams at 3-1, but their point differential of +5.0 is somewhat uninspiring. The Knicks, Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Pacers and Raptors are all 2-1 with better point differentials than the Celtics. Smart money would probably bet against the Celtics playing on Sunday in the finale. If they don’t, they will wrap up their slate Saturday.


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