Johnny Davis’s rookie season with the Washington Wizards also will be his rookie season as a father. Entering training camp, the first-round pick out of Wisconsin will handle the unfamiliar challenges of fatherhood along with a grueling NBA season.
While neither new challenge will be easy for Davis, being surrounded by experienced veterans and fathers will make the transition a bit smoother for the 20-year-old. Bradley Beal, who recently had his third child with his wife, Kamiah Adams, understands the dual responsibility well.
“His life will be a whirlwind, for sure. That’s a part of talks we have because I’m a dad, so I understand what that’s like,” Beal said. “He’s a younger dad than I was, so it’ll be a lot for him to balance — being a rookie, handling that responsibility as a father and making sure that he’s always available and getting that time, too.”
On the court, Davis continues to grow more comfortable with the NBA game as the Wizards head to Japan for preseason matchups against the Golden State Warriors on Friday and Sunday. Exiting summer league in July, the No. 10 pick was admittedly unsatisfied with his performance after he averaged 8.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in Las Vegas, shooting only 27.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range before being shut down after three games with back tightness.
“It’s summer league. I look at it as it is just the time for me to gain a little bit of experience,” Davis said. “I try not to dwell on it too much.”
Despite his displeasure, Davis viewed the games as an opportunity to learn and adapt before the real ones begin. He specifically expressed the importance of reading and seeing the game at a high level because of the leap in athleticism from college to the pros.
“Just being able to know what’s there and see what’s there before the play actually happened so that way I’m not kind of stuck in that middle part where I get the ball and I don’t know what to do with it,” Davis said.
Learning from his experience in Las Vegas, Davis headed to Los Angeles for open runs with his Wizards teammates. There, his confidence and comfort grew as he applied what he learned.
“I wasn’t very satisfied with the way I played in summer league, so going into L.A., I didn’t put any pressure on myself,” Davis said.
As he grew more comfortable, his teammates quickly took note of the rookie’s quick strides and potential.
“I was just happy to see Johnny kind of loosen up a little bit in L.A.,” second-year forward Corey Kispert said. “He looked like he was playing like the kid we saw in Wisconsin. He’s coming into his own.”
With the back issues behind him and new experiences under his belt, Davis is still adjusting as the preseason rolls on. On an experienced roster, Davis will have no shortage of wisdom and guidance in his corner.
“Everybody kind of gives me their input, but so far, during pickup games, there has been really a lot of Monte [Morris] and Will [Barton]. [They] just tell me not to think about it too much and just go out and hoop,” Davis said.
The preseason will be an opportunity for the rookie to continue to grow.
“He can easily, gradually learn what we need him to do,” Beal said. “But when we throw him in the fire, he’s always willing to accept that challenge, and that’s how it’s been the last month and a half. He’s a willing learner and very coachable.”
Not only are his teammates aware of his capabilities on the court, but they constantly remind him and build him up.
“My biggest thing is for him to be aggressive. Don’t shy away from anything. I tell him every single time, ‘You belong here for a reason,’ ” Beal said. “ ‘Embrace that. Live in it. Know that you belong here — but also know that your work is just getting started.’ ”