Donovan Mitchell has had one of the steepest climbs up the proverbial ladder, going from being a bench player at Louisville to a potential top-20 pick in the 2017 NBA draft. As a freshman under Rick Pitino, he was regarded as inconsistent but as a sophomore he averaged 15.6 points, 2.5 steals and shot 35% from the three-point line. These stats propelled him to a First Team All-ACC and All-Defense selection. Because of his unexpected decision to declare for the draft and his incredible outing at the combine, Mitchell has gone from nobody to one of the best scorer/defender in the draft.
It would be considered a surprise or even a blunder when I say Mitchell’s body and athleticism is a major strength as he is only 6’1” which is far from being ideal height for an NBA shooting guard. He makes up for it for his freakish 6’10” wingspan and incredible athleticism. His great jumping ability, speed and body control alone makes him deadly in the open court. At only 20 years old he still has to physically develop. His intangibles such as confidence, willpower to put in the work to improve and character got a lot of NBA scouts buzzing after combine interviews. Now for his biggest asset: shooting. Mitchell significantly improved his perimeter shooting last year, going from 25% to 35% and with great footwork, rising ability, and balance, his form and mechanics are solid. Because of this and youth his numbers can easily go up, especially when he isn’t expected to be the team’s top-scorer or even a starter. He can create and make shots impressively and that makes long careers in the NBA. Just as attractive to scouts for his shooting is his defense. With his length, frame, athleticism and competitive mentality, Mitchell can defend many NBA players today. Those are what got him averaging 2.5 steals a game last year.
Mitchell has tremendous athletic skill and potential but he has a way to go in developing his skill. As a scorer, he is only a jump shooter and rarely takes the ball to the rim. Because of his willingness to work and improve as evident in his better perimeter shooting last year. Because of Mitchell’s mentality as a shot-maker and Louisville’s need for him to be their top-scorer, Mitchell tended to shoot difficult, contested shots and that made him a streaky shooter.
First Year Expectations and Fit:
The Bucks need perimeter shooting, defense and shot-creating. With that and his added athleticism, the Bucks could use him off the bench where he could add needed energy and scoring. At 20 years, old, he has a lot to improve and develop but with his work ethic along with the coaching of Jason Kidd and teammates who have also come a long way like Giannis, he could be a good addition to the team. It depends on how much the Bucks will allow him to shoot his shots and if he can learn through his rookie mistakes. He has confidence and a competitive spirit which can go a long way for a rookie in the NBA.
Comparisons Mitchell has been given is Avery Bradley which is evident through his perimeter defense but his offense could make him a completely different player. It will take the right development but he has the mentality and heart to become special. Seeing what the Bucks have done with Giannis and others with similar heart and mentality, it can be a realistic happening where Mitchell can become a great sixth man for a team that is trying to reach the next level of success.