Kispert's injury may open door for Wizards rookie Johnny Davis originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON — There is no way around it: The news Corey Kispert will miss 4-to-6 weeks with a left ankle sprain is not ideal for the Wizards, who could use his 3-point shooting at the onset of the regular season. But all injuries create opportunity for others and this could pave the way for rookie Johnny Davis to earn some playing time.
Davis, the 10th overall pick in June’s NBA Draft, was on the outside of the rotation looking in at the beginning of camp. Now, he may be counted on to a decent degree by head coach Wes Unseld Jr. as a key bench player behind Bradley Beal at the two-guard position.
“He’s going to have opportunity and hopefully he takes full advantage of that opportunity, much like the way Corey did last year,” Unseld Jr. said.
Davis, 20, has experienced some humble beginnings so far in the first days of his NBA career. He has yet to make a field goal through two preseason games, shooting 0-for-12 overall. He has six points between the two games, all from the free throw line.
Unseld Jr. indicated Davis has quite a bit to do in order to get up to speed. The Wizards’ coach was asked after Wednesday’s practice if Davis was at a level yet where he could entrust him with important minutes in a close regular season game.
“It’s tough for me to say right now. I hope so,” he said.
In Davis’ defense, Unseld Jr. admittedly has been throwing some new stuff at him on the fly. He played Davis at point guard against the Warriors and, according to Unseld Jr., it was a completely unfamiliar spot for the rookie.
Unseld Jr. said he told Davis point blank before he inserted him into that role that he was going to put him in a “disadvantaged position” to see how he would respond.
“He struggled. Honestly, I’m not surprised because I put him in a point guard’s position that he’s never played. I did that intentionally to see how he would handle it,” Unseld Jr. said.
While the Wizards hope to count depth as a strength this season, their depth at wing has taken a substantial hit with the Kispert injury, given Deni Avdija is also out due to a groin issue. Avdija was just a partial participant on Wednesday and is doubtful to play in the team’s next preseason game, on Monday in Charlotte, per Unseld Jr.
If Avdija is out when they begin their season on Oct. 19 at Indiana, or limited, Davis could find himself in an even more important spot.
“We’re kind of handicapped right now at the three, but it’s preseason so there’s that,” Kyle Kuzma said.
Based on Kispert’s estimated timeline, he should be out until November with the potential to miss roughly 8-to-15 games. While an MRI and X-ray determined it was just a sprain, Unseld Jr. said it’s fairly significant.
The Wizards are going to have to make do without Kispert but — as Unseld Jr. noted — Kispert capitalized in a similar spot one year ago. Perhaps Davis will do the same.