“Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell will not meet with the Knicks on Monday, as has been reported. He is working out for the Dallas Mavericks on Monday in front of Donnie Nelson and his staff and is scheduled to work out for the Knicks on Tuesday and meet with Phil Jackson and his staff, according to sources familiar with the Knicks’ workout schedule.”
Mitchell has already attended workouts for the Charlotte Hornets (11th pick), Detroit Pistons (12th pick) Indiana Pacers (18th pick) and Utah Jazz (24th pick), while he has another scheduled with the New York Knicks (8th pick) on Tuesday.
So why is Mitchell such an intriguing prospect?
Well, two things mainly: 1) He’s defensively as good as any guard prospect in this year’s draft with arguably the highest upside of the group and 2) He’s an explosive athlete with a developing shot.
At 6’3″ Mitchell is considered undersized to play as a shooting guard in the NBA. However, his supreme athleticism and 6’10” wingspan help him on both ends of the court.
As a sophomore for Louisville, Mitchell posted 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and a remarkable 2.1 steals per game. These are impressive numbers by themselves, but when you combine them with Mitchell’s impressive combine workout and measurements, you can understand why so many teams are taking notice of Mitchell and having him in to workout.
How does Donovan fit with the Mavericks?
Mitchell’s immediate fit with the Mavericks is likely as a defensive presence. His game draws comparisons to the Toronto Raptors’ Norman Powell and the Boston Celtics’ Avery Bradley. When you add Mitchell’s defensive capability with that of Wesley Matthews, it would give Rick Carlisle a potentially devastating backcourt tandem.
Down the line, Mitchell is likely a starting-caliber player at either guard spot. Defensively he’s already there, he just needs his offensive game to catch up.
Mitchell is not a bad offensive player, but he does have some traits that Rick Carlisle is not going to like. He can be erratic with his shot, often shooting early in the shot clock, which leads to wasted possessions. He doesn’t always handle the ball properly when driving to the rim, which leads to easy blocks for defenders.
With NBA coaching, particularly by Carlisle, I would imagine these are issues that would be scrubbed out of Mitchell’s game quickly. If they are, the Mavericks could find themselves with a potential All-Defensive First Team caliber guard with high scoring upside down the line.