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Celtics rookie dazzles in NBA Summer League

Updated July 14, 2022 - 8:56 pm

The Boston Celtics not only didn’t have a first-round draft choice this year, their lone selection didn’t occur until the 53rd pick.

They used the pick on Alabama point guard JD Davison, who is unquestionably athletic but has been questioned about his decision-making on the court and efficiency from long range.

Davison, who played just one college season, joined the veteran Celtics team coming off an NBA Finals appearance with the hope of earning one of the three open roster spots or a two-way contract.

He gave the Celtics something to think about in Thursday’s NBA Summer League game.

Davison played like a lottery pick against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Thomas & Mack Center, producing 28 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals. He also made 9 of 14 shots, including 4 of 6 from the 3-point arc.

The game “has slowed down for me being a point guard having to run the show leading the team offensively and defensively,” Davison said.

The Celtics are in win-now mode, and theirs will be a difficult lineup to crack, especially after Boston acquired veterans Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari this week.

Davison showed a skill few knew he had in knocking down those 3-pointers. Davison made just 30.1 percent of his 3s with the Crimson Tide, but has been working with his agent, Mike Miller, a notable former NBA 3-point shooter.

“There’s something with my mechanics that was messed up,” Davison said. “I’ve been very comfortable shooting, a lot of reps.”

Davison and the Celtics dominated the Grizzlies from the start in winning 108-91. Now the Celtics are 3-1, but did not qualify for Sunday’s summer league championship. They were in last year’s title game, but were blown out 100-67 by the Sacramento Kings.

In summer league, though, winning is dwarfed in importance by player development and roster construction.

But winning does mean something.

“I don’t think you have to sacrifice one for the other,” Celtics summer league coach Ben Sullivan said. “Part of player development is building good habits and winning habits and competitive habits and doing the right things that contribute to winning a basketball game.”

All about the rings

The summer league will hand out rings to the champions for the first time, working out a deal with jeweler Jason Arasheben, who owns Jason of Beverly Hills. He is a longtime summer league season ticket-holder who also has designed championship rings for the Lakers, Warriors and Bucks.

“We’ve been waiting for three to four years to find the right time,” summer league co-founder Albert Hall said. “Obviously, ‘20, ‘21 wasn’t the right time. Anything we can do to enhance the experience for the players and fans. Jewelry is in, and it attributes sizzle and that you’ve arrived.”

There is one downside to awarding rings this year.

“The guys from Sacramento said, ‘What about us last year?’” Hall said.

Temporary format?

Hall said the summer league “will revisit” returning to a tournament format next year. The NBA, he said, wanted to try this system this year in which each team plays a fixed number of games.

The final two days of scheduling will be based on the summer league standings, with the top two meeting for the title.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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