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NBA Draft 2017 Scouting Profile: Donovan Mitchell

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This years’ draft riser, Mitchell is a tough, gritty defensive guard with an improved shot and TNT-infused athleticism.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Michigan vs Louisville Thomas Joseph-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Mitchell

NBA Position: SG

General Information: 20-year-old sophomore, played for Louisville. From New York, NY.

Measurables: 6’3", 210 lbs, 6’10” wingspan, 8’1” standing reach.

2016-17 Season Statistics: 15.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.7 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 1.6 TOPG (34 games played, 32.2 minutes a contest) – 40.8% FG, 80.6% FT, 35.4% 3P

Summary:

This years’ draft riser, Mitchell is a tough, gritty defensive guard who plays the position bigger than his 6’3 height would suggest he can. He’s improved as a shooter, although just how much might be hidden after two-month hot streak. Athletic, explosive, and super lengthy, it’s easy to see why a lottery team might fall in love with him, even if his offense (especially his success at the rim) needs improvement.

Offensive Breakdown:

Mitchell’s shooting ability is a decent question mark that’s hiding his full NBA potential. On the optimistic side, his free throw numbers are a very solid 80%, and he shot 42% on no-dribble jumpers (85th percentile, according to Synergy). His shot selection wasn’t great, especially towards the end of the year and the NCAA tournament, but this Louisville team didn’t have a ton of offensive consistency to begin with.

Over his career, he’s become a better three-point shooter; after shooting just 25% from three his freshman year, Rick Pitino let Mitchell uncork that long-ball often. He attempted 226 his sophomore year, which was over half his shot attempts. Nothing about his form looks unwieldy or unnatural, and he apparently really shined as a shooter at the combine. However, there’s also reason to believe Mitchell’s 35.9% from three was slightly inflated; from the end of 2016 to the end of February (a 16 game stretch), he shot 51/116 from three (43%). This included a two-game swing against Pittsburg and NC State where he combined for 12 of 18 from three and had his two top scoring performances (28 and 29 points) of the season. The rest of the year, he was only 29/110 from three (26%). Dismissing that two-month stretch as JUST a hot streak isn’t fair to a young man with plenty of time to turn it into a weapon, but it does mean teams should brace for a shooting regression until shown otherwise.

Mitchell’s height (6’3 in shoes) isn’t great for a two-guard, but he makes up for it with excellent length (6’10 wingspan, the same as Josh Jackson), great athleticism (40-inch max vertical and plenty of fluidity to utilize it on the court), and an already solid frame (210 pounds) that looks like it’ll support more muscle. Mitchell is a willing slasher and his quick-twitch athleticism and explosiveness, but he had less success than you’d like for a moderately-utilized player; he finished with a below-average 55% field goal success at the rim, and he was in the bottom 3rd of the NCAA in terms of transition success (44% field goal, 28th percentile per Synergy). His handle needs significant improvement before he’ll be able to fake out NBA defenders, and that’s a must add for an undersized two guard.

As a secondary ball-handler, Mitchell shows promise but not a ton definitive. A 1.5/1 assist-to-turnover ratio is solid for his position, as is his 16% assist rate, but any real NBA-level playmaking skills were either lacking from his game this year or hidden by his role in the offense. Teams shouldn’t draft him thinking they’re getting a for-sure secondary playmaker, let alone a PG disguised as a SG.

Defensive Breakdown:

As with any high profile Louisville product over the last… (checks Rick Pitino’s Wikipedia page)… 16 years, Mitchell is a bulldog on defense. He snagged 2.6 steals per 40 minutes with a 3.6% steal rate, both of which are tops for the likely-lottery guards and wings. He was able to switch between nearly all the guards he faced in college, and should provide some positional versatility on defense at the next level as well. Again, his length isn’t great for guarding NBA twos, but he’ll compensate with his strength, length, and high-octane motor.

4.9 boards a game is solidly impressive for a 6’3 guard, even one playing the minutes Mitchell did. His strength and determination mean he won’t let most two guards easily beat him out for rebounds.

Intangibles:

The fact that Mitchell turned a 25% three-point freshman season into a 35% sophomore season with strong looking mechanics speaks highly of a young player (still only 20) who has the look of a dedicated student of the craft. He handled playing for one of the more intimidating collegiate coaches well, was the focal point of a semi-deep Louisville squads’ offense and defense, and has skyrocketed up most public draft boards over the last few months. If you’re looking for a late riser who might surprise people with a top-10 selection, Mitchell might be your bet – in a class with a ton of point guards but less surety at the off-guard spot, Mitchell’s combination of athleticism, defensive intensity, and improved shooting makes him an intriguing player who could become a steal of the class if he rounds out his scoring ability,

Fit with Sacramento:

Positionwise, Mitchell is redundant next to Buddy Hield, Malichi Richardson, and (presumably) Bogdan Bogdanović. His length alone doesn’t add much positional versatility, as neither he nor Hield will be able to guard forwards. He doesn’t provide instant spacing, and while that three point success bump is intriguing for any team, adding another non-playmaking guard seems like overkill on a roster already swole with talented two guards. Then again, he’s not a crazy BPA selection at number 10 or later, and who knows how Sacramento will handle their big board this year.