The Celtics picked up an interesting player in Alabama point guard JD Davison in the second round of the NBA Draft Thursday.
Davison, chosen with Boston’s only pick (No. 53 overall), rose to prominence as a high school star in Alabama, where he averaged 32.4 points and 10.9 rebounds as a senior and once posted a 29-point, 14-rebound, 11-assist, 11-steal quadruple-double.
As a junior, he led Calhoun High in Letohatchee to the Class 2A title, hitting a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired. The next year, Calhoun reached the semifinals but lost to Midfield despite a 45-point performance by Davison.
Davison’s explosiveness and playmaking earned him high-level offers, and he rose through the recruiting ranks quickly. By the time he was a senior, he was ranked as a five-star prospect by Rivals, 24/7 Sports, and ESPN.
ESPN gave him a 94 prospect rating and ranked him 15th in the country. He came from a school of fewer than 200 students, but he was regarded as one of the best prospects in the country when he went to Alabama.
Other things to know about Davison:
He struggled in college
It’s normal for a talented player from a small high school going to Division 1 to struggle, but it makes evaluating someone such as Davison more complicated.
Davison turned over the ball often in the pick-and-roll. He finished with 8 turnovers in a win over Tennessee and 7 in a win over Drake, and his assist-to-turnover ratio for the season was 4.2 to 2.9. He made 25 3-pointers but shot just 30.1 percent from deep and only 72.8 percent from the free throw line.
For all of his athleticism and clever passing, his shot needs work.
“He’s 12 months removed from high school graduation, right?” Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said. “So he’s played one year of college basketball at a very high level on a good team, and with guys that were there who were good playmakers in their own right.
“He had some incredible games, and he had some games where he looked like a freshman.”
They like his competitiveness
“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,” Stevens said. “He’s very unselfish in that regard. But there are things he has to improve, as any 19-year-old would. But we’re looking forward to helping him do that. That’s our task.”
Ever the college coach, Stevens (perhaps reflexively) praised Alabama’s coaching staff.
“He’s a good competitor and obviously, I think, played in a really good program for really good coaches,” Stevens said.
By the numbers
Davison’s combine measurements were solid for a guard: 6 feet 2½ inches, with a 6-foot-6½-inch wingspan. Scouting reports noted his motor and upside while questioning his jumper and his high turnovers.
Celtics had a good look
Stevens said Davison was one of two or three players the Celtics felt “pretty good about” as their pick neared. Still, they didn’t have a chance to work him out, because of their own hectic schedule and Davison’s workout schedule.
But Stevens — who said he was “well-versed” in what Davison brings to the table — saw him several times live and attended an Alabama practice last season.
They’re in no rush
Stevens’s message to Davison seems clear: We believe in you and think we can develop you into an NBA player. Just don’t expect a lot of playing time right away.
The Celtics drafted Davison because they have time to develop him, not because they expect him to compete for minutes on a team that reached the NBA Finals.
“Now it’s about making it so that he gets accustomed to the NBA game,” Stevens said. “Barring anything crazy here, he’s not going to have a ton of pressure to come in and impact us right away or move the needle for us. He’ll be able to compete for minutes just like anybody else.
“At the same time, he can grow, develop, focus his attention on improving. I think that’s really an important place to be for a young player. We’ve got a really good team.”
Summer league up next
Davison is going to play on the Celtics’ summer league team, which means fans can get their first look at him July 7 in Las Vegas. He’ll meet up with the team for practice before then.
For the Celtics’ development staff, the goal will be to help a 19-year-old get ready for the grind of the NBA.
“This is a big life moment for him, and then in a couple of days you’re on a plane to Boston and in a whole new place,” Stevens said. “How do we help him really start off on the right foot?”