Johnny Davis is a hot topic among fans who have expected more from the Wizards first round draft pick. Washington didn’t necessarily need Davis to be an instant success his rookie year but the progress has been much slower than most could have anticipated.
Davis struggled in Summer League and preseason which isn’t alarming. The problem is that he hasn’t taken huge strides to make up for it. He has only cracked the rotation a few times this season, playing 35 minutes overall for a total of six points thus far.
When Davis made his NBA regular season debut against Detroit on October 25th, Bradley Beal had some advice for the young point guard in postgame interviews: “If you get in the game, be aggressive and shoot the ball. Understand his time will come and when it comes, he’s gotta be ready to go and be hungry because a lot of guys are hungry, a lot of guys want to play.”
In evaluating Davis’ fellow first round draft picks on the roster such as Rui Hachimura, Corey Kispert, and Deni Avdija, each struggled in some way throughout their rookie seasons. The key difference is they took advantage of the opportunities that came their way. Now they are huge contributors in the Wizards lineup. To be fair, they were also given more minutes to prove themselves.
Nonetheless, Davis hasn’t shown the same progressive growth. The Wizards are trying to develop the rookie by splitting his time with the team’s G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. During his stint with the Go-Go, Davis has been a significantly different player. He has climbed to as many as 19 points and even came close to a double-double.
After his return from the G League, Coach Wes Unseld Jr. gave Davis time on the court when the Wizards met the Hornets on Sunday. However, Davis was very hesitant to take shots when the ball was put in his hands. After shooting 3-3 from beyond the arc in his Go-Go debut, he visibly passed up similar shots. He was taken out of the game at five minutes and never returned.
When Coach Wes Unseld Jr was asked about Davis’ hesitation, particularly from three-point range, he responded very matter of factly: “He knows. He knows as soon as he passes them up.”
The difference in Davis’ play between the Go-Go and Wizards makes you wonder if the NBA environment and the talent it breeds is too intimidating for Davis.
The Wizards are hoping for the best moving forward. Only time will tell if this is the most we’re going to get from Davis or if he will tap into his college success and show everyone why the Wizards selected him tenth overall.