At the halfway point of the preseason, one thing is for certain: the Sacramento Kings are playing a very different brand of basketball than last spring.
In their victories over the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers this week, they’ve made defense a point of emphasis and Davion Mitchell has been their anchor on that end. As it stands, Mitchell sits atop the league in preseason defensive rating at 78.2.
Following last night’s victory in Los Angeles, De’Aaron Fox praised Mitchell’s talents in terms of defending on-ball.
“When he’s locked in on the ball, it’s like … it’s crazy to watch,” Fox told reporters. “The way he’s able to stop and go, shit hurts me leg just watching, but he’s such a great on-ball defender. Like, in the league right now, he’s top-five, I’d say, on-ball defenders in the league right now and when you watch him, it’s just amazing.”
Fox went on to say that Mitchell’s defensive gamesmanship is comparable to a pool of players such as Marcus Smart (Boston), Patrick Beverley (Minnesota) and Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee).
“He does stuff on the ball you just can’t teach. That’s what’s making him great but on the other hand, I tell him, ‘Man, go out there and do what you do. You’re going to be out there to make plays for us, make it easier on guys to score the ball.’ He does everything and I think he’s going to do everything at a high level, especially, once he gets used to playing at the NBA level,” Fox said.
Kings fans are working with a very small sample size, but we know that Mitchell is entering the league up to his ears in college accolades and a nation-wide proclaimed defensive juggernaut.
Though the praise and comparisons from Fox feel extremely premature from the outside, he’s seen Mitchell in training camp and spent some time on the court with him. Plus, if there’s anyone that has major firsthand insight as to what has been Sacramento’s missing link in the “winning basketball” chain, it’s Fox.
The way Mitchell is playing, contests vs. the Bucks, Celtics and Timberwolves are going to be must-see Kings basketball.