Yes, the Celtics are all placed in the point guard position – Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon all contribute there. Each will try to facilitate the offense and carry out actions for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
But, the Celtics also added another point guard in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft – JD Davison. Davison showed NBA-level potential in the Las Vegas Summer League this year. It was Davison who provided consistent playability. It was Davison who ran the pick-and-roll. It was Davison who handed the ball to Juhann Begarin and Mfiondu Kabengele with momentum and space.
He has averaged 8.2 assists in the Summer League, which ranks third all-time behind Lonzo Ball and Payton Pritchard, according to Taylor Snow of Celtics.com. Thanks to Davison’s contributions to the game, the Celtics were more than capable of running a spread offense, and thanks to Davison’s passing ability, the Celtics shot 37.0% from three points, making it the third best three-point shooting team in Vegas. It’s something.
JD Davison set a Celtics Summer League record with 41 assists. His 8.2 assists per game rank 3rd all-time in the league behind Lonzo Ball (9.3) and Payton Pritchard (8.5). pic.twitter.com/R2AZWTCGj8
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) July 17, 2022
Davison has the brilliance and the grip to drive in the right spot and blow through defenders, forcing the assist defense to turn on him. This is where Davison makes his money.
As seen in the video below, Davison has a great touch on the dump pass to Trevion Williams and Begarin after sprinting through a fence. The Celtics Summer League side were unbeatable in early possession actions, and that was because of Davison’s speed.
Scoring-wise, Davison averaged 13.0 points per game and shot an incredibly effective 47.0 percent from three-point range. Davison’s touch has had its ups and downs over the past two years, as he was a 40.0 percent shooter in his sophomore year at Calhoun School and then he was nearly 30.0 percent at over the next three years. The fluctuating usage rates have something to do with it, as he only recorded an 18.78 usage percentage and averaged just 25.8 minutes per game in his only year at Alabama. .
What makes Davison special, despite his low productivity in college, is his speed and athleticism. He understands how the defenders will protect him and he uses his grip to get them out of position. Once the defender pursues, Davison will go down in his bag – crossovers, hesitations, counterfeits. He will stop so quickly that the defender’s momentum will drive them forward.
Here’s a perfect example of Davison executing an isolation and double-crossing move the Celtics have gone to on occasion. Davison puts Zaire Williams off guard after a switch and crosses twice to freeze Williams, then he uses his explosiveness to fly in a float out of the glass.
Davison’s combination of speed and ball handling is something that was on full display in Las Vegas. But, another aspect of his game that was showcased in Summer League was his lob threat pass.
When Davison recognizes the defense and locates the rim runner, he can continue to rise to the basket and throw an oop. Or, since Davison is great at improvising in the air, he can finish with a layup or a floater after the defender rolls to the lob threat.
In Vegas, the Celtics ran an effective offense with Davison as the lead builder, and that could certainly be his role in Maine during his two-way deal. From the jump, he was the Celtics’ best pick-and-roll playmaker in the Summer League.
Davison needs to improve as a consistent NBA-level 3-point shooter for defenses to actually plan the game against him. But, even if he doesn’t become a knockdown long-range shooter, Davison can still be a primary enabler on any offense. He’ll spend time in the G-League to develop, but Davison is an explosive first-pass keeper that the Celtics could use later.