Johnny Davis showing improvement, will fight for minutes

Wes Unseld Jr. and Tommy Sheppard

WASHINGTON -- Johnny Davis' stint in the Las Vegas Summer League featured a minor back injury and produced disappointing results. All in all, it was not the showing Davis, the 2022 10th overall pick, was hoping for.

There is value in those types of learning experiences, however, and Wizards president Tommy Sheppard has noticed Davis treating it as such. During a press conference Tuesday to kick off the 2022-23 season, Sheppard detailed the progress he's already seen from the incoming rookie.

"He got back into the lab and got healthy. He struggled a little bit at the Summer League with some back stuff. When the players got together in L.A., I think everybody saw what we saw all season from him as a player in college," Sheppard said.

Davis has had more than two months to work with since his four-game run in Las Vegas. The Wizards open training camp this weekend with the 20-year-old set to get his first real NBA experience. 

Where he falls in the Wizards' rotation is yet to be determined, but it may take some time based on how he fared in the Summer League and because of the makeup of their roster. Davis is a 2-guard and the Wizards' best player, Bradley Beal, has that position locked down. 

Davis will have to find his place on the bench, but could face stiff competition for a stable role in the second unit. The Wizards have several players who can back up Beal including 2021 first-round pick Corey Kispert and offseason acquisitions Delon Wright and Will Barton.


Neither Sheppard or head coach Wes Unseld Jr. offered specifics with Davis' expected role on Tuesday, but Unseld Jr. did have this to say:

"[He’s] a young guy that’s going to fight for minutes this year," he said.

Kispert was in that boat a year ago. Though he was better than Davis in Summer League, he didn't light it up, either, and entered camp on the outside of the rotation looking in. But by the end of the year, he was their full-time starter at shooting guard following Beal's season-ending wrist injury.

Injuries could and likely will open the door for Davis at some point. He could also make a case for himself on the defensive end.

One of Davis' biggest selling points coming into the draft was his perimeter defense and that is a particular need for the Wizards.

"He is a dog. He goes hard, he loves to compete and he’s got a nasty streak in him whenever that emerges, and he’s going to have to earn it," Sheppard said.

The "earn it" part of Sheppard's comments was another indication Davis may face an uphill battle early on as he aims to secure playing time. Everyone has to start somewhere and very soon Davis will begin his own NBA journey.