CelticsBlog Movie Room: JD Davison showcased NBA-level point guard talent in the Summer League

Yes, that Celts are all at the point guard position – Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon all contribute. Everyone will try to facilitate the offense and take actions for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

But the Celtics also added another point guard in the second round of 2022 NBA draft – JD Davison. Davison showed potential at the NBA level that year Las Vegas Summer League. It was Davison who offered consistent playmaking ability. It was Davison who ran the pick and roll. It was Davison who delivered the ball to Juhann Begarin and Mfiondu Kabengele with momentum and space.

According to Celtics.com’s Taylor Snow, he averaged 8.2 assists in the Summer League, which ranks third all-time behind Lonzo Ball and Payton Pritchard. Davison’s contributions made the Celtics more than capable of running a spread offense, and thanks to Davison’s passing ability, the Celtics shot 37.0 percent from three-point range, making them the third-best three-point shooting team in Vegas. That is something.

Davison has the power and grip to drive to the right spot and blow past defenders, forcing the auxiliary defense to turn to him. That’s how Davison makes his money.

As seen in the video below, Davison did an excellent job of tackling the dump-off pass to Trevion Williams and Begarin after riding past a closeout. The Celtics Summer League team were unbeatable in early possession and that was down to Davison’s speed.

In terms of scoring, Davison averaged 13.0 points per game and shot an incredibly efficient 47.0 percent from three-point range. Davison’s touch has been up and down in recent years, as he was a 40.0 percent shooter during his sophomore year at Calhoun School, then he was nearly a 30.0 percent shooter over the next three years. Fluctuating usage rates have something to do with it, as in his only year at Alabama he only recorded an 18.78 usage percentage and averaged just 25.8 minutes per game.

Despite his low productivity in college, what makes Davison special is his speed and athleticism. He understands how defenders protect him and he uses his grip to throw them off position. Once the defender is on the hunt, Davison will reach into his pocket — crossovers, hesitations, pump fakes. He will stop so quickly that the defender’s momentum carries them forward.

Here’s a perfect example of Davison executing an isolated double crossover move that the Celtics occasionally performed. Davison puts Zaire Williams on the wrong foot after a switch and crosses twice to freeze Williams, then uses his explosiveness to fly in for an off-the-glass floater.

Davison’s combination of speed and ball handling was something that really came into its own in Las Vegas. Another aspect of his game that was showcased in Summer League was his lob threat passing.

If Davison sees the defense and locates the rim runner, he can rise further to the basket and throw an whoops. Or, since Davison is great at improvising mid-air, he can finish with a layup or floater after the defender rolls to the Lob threat.

In Vegas, the Celtics ran an effective offense with Davison as the main creator, and that could certainly be his role in Maine during his two-way deal. From the jump, he was the Celtics’ top pick-and-roll playmaker in the Summer League.

Davison needs to improve as a consistent NBA-level 3-point shooter for the defense to actually play against him. But even if he doesn’t become a stunning deep-range shooter, Davison can still be a key facilitator on any offense. He’ll be spending time in the G-League to develop, but Davison is a pass-first, explosive guard the Celtics could use later.

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