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Johnny Davis struggling early in NBA Summer League, Washington Wizards unconcerned

Matt Johnson

The Washington Wizards snagged guard Johnny Davis with the 10th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, buying in on the 20-year-old’s talent and hoping he could blossom alongside Bradley Beal.

Still weeks away from having the opportunity to play with one of the greatest players in franchise history, Davis is learning the ropes in the NBA Summer League. As several of his rookie peers thrive in their first taste of professional basketball, Davis has struggled.

In his first game on Saturday against the Detroit Pistons, Davis scored just six points on nine field-goal attempts in 29 minutes. It was nothing short of a disaster, with Davis’ shooting ability seemingly coming into question among some fans.

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While some casual observers might have walked away from their first experience watching Davis with a sour taste, head coach Zach Guthrie saw things from a different perspective. While he acknowledged the rookie struggled, he reminded everyone that Tim Duncan, one of the best NBA players ever, looked like he didn’t belong in pro basketball after his first summer league game.

“You know, Tim Duncan got famously outplayed by Greg Ostertag in the Rocky Mountain Revue, and he turned out OK. So I don’t think there’s anything to take from this one other than the film and growth for the next day.”

Washington Wizards summer league coach Zach Guthrie on Johnny Davis (H/T The Athletic)

In fact, the coach overseeing the Wizards’ summer league team even saw some positives. He highlighted how Davis displayed quick decision-making on the court, finding his teammates when the right play was there. He might not have been perfect, but Washington did see positives in the young guard’s performance.

  • Johnny Davis college stats: 19.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.1 APG, 30.6% 3PT

In terms of where Davis can improve, Guthrie told Josh Robbins of The Athletic that he hoped Davis would become more aggressive in his second game against pro competition. While it’s important to strike the right balance, the Wizards saw room for Davis to learn from his debut and implement what he saw into the second game.

“I’m in agreement that he did not shoot the ball enough. We’re throwing a lot of things at Johnny at this point. And credit to him: He’s a great student of the game, a willing worker and a willing learner. And I think he’s just got to keep reading the line of when to be aggressive. He’s trying to do things the right way. He’s trying to do what we asked. So now it’s getting him back to being an instinctual basketball player and reading what the defense gives him.”

Wizards’ Summer League coach Zach Guthrie on areas for Johnny Davis to improve

Facing the Phoenix Suns, Davis seemed to take a step forward. He shot 4-of-11 from the field, finishing with 11 points and a +15 rating in 24 minutes. However, he did record more turnovers (three) than assists (one) and he is now shooting 20% from beyond the arc through his first two games.

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Johnny Davis and the Wizards return to the court on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, a matchup broadcasted on NBA TV. He’ll also get an opportunity to make a strong impression to close out the NBA Summer League, battling the Indiana Pacers in an ESPN2 broadcast on Friday.

It’s evident the young guard knows he has a lot to work on and he seems to be responding well to the instruction from coaches. If he wants to make a meaningful contribution in the 2022-’23 NBA season, though, Washington needs to see his ability to learn on the fly and grow from his mistakes without repeating them constantly.