LAS VEGAS — The Celtics wanted JD Davison to emerge during this Las Vegas Summer League as one of the best players on the floor during their five-game schedule. That mission was accomplished Thursday at Thomas & Mack Center.
The second-round pick broke through his offensive malaise in Boston’s fourth game, scoring 28 points on 9-for-14 shooting as the Celtics coasted to a 108-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Celtics’ final game is Saturday against Brooklyn at 5 p.m. on ESPN.
Davison, who entered Thursday shooting 25 percent from the field with two 3-pointers, drained four of his six 3-point attempts and also attacked the rim for several layups and short jumpers. The Alabama product also added 10 assists along with five rebounds, displaying the potential that encouraged the Celtics to sign him to a two-way contract.
“I think he’s understanding more of what he has to do,” Celtics summer league coach Ben Sullivan said. “Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time. Understanding your plays, understanding your teammates. Everything is new. As you go further, you get more reps, you get to do it. The comfort level comes with that.”
Sullivan has encouraged Davison to shoot the NBA 3-pointer. He was a 30.1 percent shooter (25 for 83) during his lone season at Alabama. On Thursday, he capitalized on defenders going under screens and knocked down the open shot.
“That’s probably the first thing I noticed about him was his pace and his feel for not only the pick-and-roll but for plays,” Sullivan said. “It’s much more advanced for a young player than I thought it would be. He’s really impressed me with his playmaking, his vision, ability to control the floor.”
Davison said watching game film and preparing for different defenses have been crucial to his improvement.
“I know (Tuesday) there were 3-pointers open that I didn’t take,” he said. “I knew I was going to be open because they were going under screens. So I was going to take my shot and shoot it comfortable.”
Davison said he’s been working with agent (and former NBA sharpshooter) Mike Miller on his 3-point shot. Miller is 33rd all-time in NBA 3-pointers with 1,590.
“I have so much respect for him and him the same way with me,” Davison said of Miller. “He respects me and he respects my game. He knows I’m in the gym a lot, every day, no days off.”
Former second-round pick Juhann Begarin added 19 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals as the 19-year-old has shown marked improvement from his first summer league in 2021.
“He’s big and athletic,” Sullivan said. “He guards, makes plays around the rim. He has good vision. He’s shown me that he has a lot of tools. He’s really impressed me with his versatility.”
Begarin’s goal is to earn an invitation to training camp. He’s averaging 16.5 points on 39.7 percent shooting, but at 6-foot-5 inches with impressive athleticism, he can make an impact on defense.
“This year I am ready,” he said. “(I just) practice every day, extra practice after team practice. My goal is to get my contract and try to show them I’m ready to play for them and ready to play in the league.”
The Celtics have a few roster spots open and also a two-way contract available. Sharpshooters Sam Hauser and Matt Ryan did not play against the Grizzlies. Ryan being held out is a development because he is not on the roster and trying to make an impression on NBA teams.
Boston management has the option of signing Ryan to a two-way deal or standard NBA contract.