Davison Discusses Draft Night, Summer Objectives

BOSTON – On the night of June 23, JD Davison was sitting inside his Alabama home, surrounded by a small group of family and friends, waiting to receive a life-changing phone call. More than 50 names had already been announced in the 2022 NBA Draft and his had not been one of them, but the 19-year-old combo guard was confident that he would be among the final 10 selections.

“I was telling my family, ‘It’s going to happen. It’s coming.’” Davison recalled Tuesday afternoon. “And my agent finally called me. And it happened.”

Davison picked up the phone and his agent delivered the news: the Boston Celtics would be selecting him with their lone pick of the draft at No. 53. He’d be joining the reigning Eastern Conference champions.

“When I got that call from the Celtics,” Davison said, “when my agent called and said, ‘the Celtics got you,’ – it’s an organization where they win, and I knew I could come in here and get better every day – I was very happy.”

Ironically, Davison never worked out for the Celtics during the pre-draft process. However, team scouts had made a handful of trips to go watch the University of Alabama freshman this past season and were sold on his upside as an athletic scorer and tenacious defender.

“He's a guy that we've seen all year long,” Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens said after selecting Davison. “Very young, very explosive, that's pretty obvious. He has the ability to get inside the paint and make plays and has some things that he'll have to improve on, but has a lot of physical tools.”

Stevens noted how Davison had some “incredible games,” during his lone season at Alabama, such as when he put up 20 points in a 91-82 win over the No. 3-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs on Dec. 4, 2021. Though he also “had some games where he looked like a freshman,” as is the case with many 19-year-olds.

Davison averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.0 steals in 32 games with Alabama. He’ll be the first to admit that his season didn’t go as planned after being the No. 15 recruit in the nation in his high school class of 2021. Regardless, he felt ready to make the leap into the pros and believes that his skill set will eventually fit the NBA game.

“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,” he 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.”

At pick No. 53, the Celtics felt that they couldn’t pass on the opportunity to select such a dynamic guard. Stevens loves Davison’s competitive spirit and believes that over time, he could develop into an explosive offensive talent at the NBA level.

“He has consistently competed, consistently carried himself well on the court, and the ability to get into the paint is a hard thing to be able to do in this league,” said Stevens. “So whether in transition, off a ball screen, off an action to be able to get into the paint, you learn as time goes on what the right reads are around you to make the right plays. Some of that comes with experience, but we do think he has a good feel as far as getting the ball out of his hands quickly and finding the right people, especially on spot-ups. He’s very unselfish in that regard. But there are things he has to improve on, as any 19-year-old would. But we’re looking forward to helping him do that.”

The Celtics’ Summer coaching staff, led by assistant Ben Sullivan, will be tasked with helping Davison transition into the pro game. The Summer C’s have two practices under their belts and will head to Las Vegas at the end of the week to compete in the league’s annual offseason showcase of up-and-coming talent.

Over these next few weeks, Davison hopes to show that he is one of those talented individuals who belong at the next level. “Just go out and be me: a leader on the offensive end, a dog on the defensive end, just leading my guys to a win.”