When the Sacramento Kings drafted Davion Mitchell at No. 9 overall, one of the largest questions that loomed over the team remained: how will we see an improvement on defense?
Thus far, the answer has come in the form of Mitchell, a 6’0 bulldog who’s brought out the clamps from the first time he stepped on the Kings’ court in late July, and Monday night’s victory showed promise that Mitchell’s outstanding Summer League performances can and should immediately translate into NBA success.
Head coach Luke Walton said he’s seen Mitchell go to work on his own roster “every day” at training camp, but his preseason debut was another milestone in what Kings fans are hoping will be a special rookie campaign for Mitchell.
“I didn’t see any jitters from him,” Walton told reporters on Monday. “I thought he played a very good game. He did again tonight what he’s been doing ever since we’ve had him and that’s really just playing a sold, winning brand of basketball.”
Despite finishing with only 7 points on an inefficient 3-8 from the field, Mitchell recorded 3 assists, 2 steals and a block and finished the game with team-high a +20 plus/minus. His productivity was undoubtedly a key contribution to Sacramento’s win.
“I try to do that every game that I go into,” Mitchell said of his all-around performance. “You’re not going to have an on night offensively every game. You’ve got so many games, you’re not going to always hit shots.
“But on the defensive end, you always can put that effort in and play hard and that’s what I try to do out there.” Mitchell said.
It’s-just-one-game’s aside, the formation of a positive culture surrounding some winning basketball in Sacramento is shaping up and rounding into form. Mitchell is bringing the defensive identity that this squad has been craving and the hard work he lays out is seemingly infectious.