NBA

Johnny Davis more assertive in Game 2 of Summer League, a Wizards win

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LAS VEGAS – The Washington Wizards beat the Phoenix Suns 97-72 on Sunday in their second game of the Las Vegas Summer League. Here are five observations of what happened…

Unbalanced Victory

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The Wizards faced a loaded Pistons Summer League team on Saturday in their opener, a roster that included plenty of NBA rotation players. On Sunday, they saw a team with far less NBA-ready talent and, unsurprisingly, the results were different.

After a narrow loss to Detroit, the Wizards had no problem with the Suns in a blowout victory. They were up 19 points at halftime and never looked back.

Defense was the main reason. They held the Suns to 34.9 percent shooting from the field and forced 16 turnovers. It was good for the Wizards to get a win after starting with a loss, but also because they have some tough opponents waiting for them in the New Orleans Pelicans and Indiana Pacers. The Pelicans have the eighth overall pick Dyson Daniels, though he could be stopped with a sprained ankle, and the Pacers have the No. 6 overall pick Bennedict Mathurin.

Davis was more aggressive

Wizards 10th pick Johnny Davis said the coaching staff told him to be more selfish by looking for his own shot in Game 2 after going seven minutes without a shot attempt to start his debut on Saturday. Davis took the advice and looked a lot more assertive on the attacking side of it.

After scoring six points on 1-for-9 shooting against the Pistons, Davis was down 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting against the Suns. He also made his first three Summer League appearances.

Davis is starting to shine on catch-and-go plays and is clearly comfortable in the midrange. Perhaps his best play in this match was in the first half when he drove the baseline with his left hand and sank a float in traffic.

While Davis hopes to shoot better forward and protect the ball better (he had three turnovers), he was happy with his progress from game to game.

“It’s just about taking something from each game and translating it to the next… It was only my second game against an NBA competition, so I’m still trying to figure it out,” Davis said.

Next step: shoot more

While Davis has managed to get past his opponents, he hopes to make an adjustment in the Wizards’ next game. He felt he was letting in a few good looks from the outside.

“I should be ready to catch and shoot a lot more. That’s something I have to work on,” Davis said. “But also, as fast as I am, I feel as soon as I catch it that I have the ability to rip someone apart. It’s also just reading the fences.”

Davis wasn’t a great 3-point shooter in college. He knocked down just 30.6 percent from deep last year at Wisconsin, but he’ll be looking to improve in that area and the Summer League is a great opportunity to build confidence as a shooter. The wizard roster is set up to be their #1 scoring option, so the shots will be there if he wants them.

The more Davis develops as an outside shooter, the more defenders will have to respect his range and that will create more of a chance for him to head for the edge out of the socket.

Carey Jr. stood out

Sophomore big man Vernon Carey Jr. has been one of the Wizards’ biggest bright spots so far over the course of two games. He does a good job scoring the ball in the paint, using his strength to fight on contact and finish, often with a lefty baby hook.

Carey Jr. is an aggressive player and Sunday often helped him get to the free throw line. He had 15 points and 11 rebounds with about half of his points coming from the charity strip (he shot 7 for 7). Carey Jr. has struggled to shoot free throws since college, but looked good on Sunday.

If Carey Jr. continues to perform well in the Summer League, that should improve his chances for next season. The Wizards signed veteran Taj Gibson to be their third center, but Carey Jr. could be fourth in line and one injury away from being needed at the NBA level.

Schakel got cold

After scoring 24 points in Game 1, Jordan Schakel didn’t have the same impact on Sunday as Phoenix seemed keenly aware of his scoring abilities. He was a key part of their defense and still shot well from the outside (2 for 5), but didn’t have nearly the same driving success as Saturday. Schakel had six points on 2-for-8 shooting in about 16 minutes of action.

Isaiah Todd, the Wizards’ 2021 second-round pick, is still waiting to warm up. He was solid in their opener with 11 points, but only had three points on Sunday. He had more fouls (four) than points. Todd, however, still has the opportunity to make some noise in Vegas and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him have an escape game soon. He never hesitates to seek his own shot and can warm up very quickly.

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