The 2021 NBA Draft class is shaping up to be one of the best ever, and as a result of that talent, there’s hardly a consensus pick for Rookie of the Year.
Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley spent most of the year as the frontrunner and was the winner in our SB Nation Reacts poll this week, but Detroit Pistons point guard Cade Cunningham and Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes both made strong cases in the second half of the season.
It’s hard to imagine there was anything Davion Mitchell could have done anything in the second half of the season for his name to be considered, but the Sacramento Kings rookie still had a productive season. In 74 appearances for the Kings, he averaged 11.4 points and 4.4 assists per game, both of which ranked in the top-10 among rookies.
However, Mitchell’s real impact was on the defensive end. Despite being on a team with one of the worst defensive ratings in the league, Mitchell finished fourth among rookies in defensive rating (110.8) and ninth in Defensive Raptors (+0.3). Per 100 possessions, the Kings were 4.7 points better on the defensive end with Mitchell on the floor.
Mitchell’s future in Sacramento is far from guaranteed, as evidenced by the Kings’ decision to trade franchise pillar Tyrese Haliburton at the trade deadline, but as things stand, he projects to be a big part of what the team is building around De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.