The Dallas Mavericks will have a top ten pick in the draft and Donovan Mitchell is turning heads at the combine. Could he rise all the way into the top ten on draft night?
The Dallas Mavericks will most likely end up with the 9th pick in the NBA Draft in June as everything gets locked into place on Tuesday night at the NBA Draft Lottery.
Although the Mavericks could go anywhere on draft night, most assume Dallas will go the guard route as the need for a future point guard is at the forefront. With five point guards in the top ten prospects of the draft, landing one of those five at nine are pretty high.
But is there a dark horse point guard that could be in the equation at number nine?
Enter Donovan Mitchell out of the University of Louisville.
Mitchell is coming off his sophomore year at Louisville where he mainly played off the ball alongside of Quentin Snider. Standing at 6’3″ and 210 pounds, Mitchell led the Cardinals in scoring with 15.3 points per game and a number two seed in the NCAA Tournament.
He would go on to declare for the draft and after receiving some positive feedback in the process, decided to hire an agent and show his worth as a first round pick.
It was at the NBA Combine that he really started turning heads around the league.
The guys over at DraftExpress have been raving about Mitchell over the past couple of days after his impressive measurements.
"“Louisville Sophomore Guard Donovan Mitchell impressed on day one of the Combine with his huge 6’10 wingspan measurement, and he continued to leave his mark on day two, posting the highest standing vertical leap at 36.5. That number matches the marks of Iman Shumpert and former NBA Dunk Contest Champion Glen Robinson III.” – Source: http://www.draftexpress.com/article/2017-nba-combine-athletic-testing-analysis-5930/ ©DraftExpress"
When Mitchell was at Louisville, whispers were circulating that his game resembled the likes of Russell Westbrook with his above average athleticism and ability to pull up from anywhere on the court.
When you look back at some of his highlights from his sophomore season, you see that athleticism on a consistent basis.
When I watch Mitchell at his best, his game resembles a hint of Damian Lillard (rather than Westbrook) to me. He can pull up from anywhere, but can also take anyone off the dribble and finish well within the paint. As far as the athleticism goes, his vertical registered over 40 inches at the Combine.
"“His 40 ½ inch max vertical was the fourth best at the Combine, and he also shot the ball well in the drills we watched. Mitchell, who just recently signed with an agent, has certainly boosted his stock with some elite physical and athletic testing.” – Source: http://www.draftexpress.com/article/2017-nba-combine-athletic-testing-analysis-5930/ ©DraftExpress"
That boosted draft stock has been one of the biggest topics of discussion over the past couple of days.
In DraftExpress’ latest mock draft, they have Mitchell moving all the way up to the 12th spot and going to the Detroit Pistons.
In my opinion, he could move up even farther if he can prove to a team he could run the point.
If he can prove that, similar to Malik Monk, then the sky is the limit for what Mitchell could become.
As shown in the highlight video above, he can score from anywhere on the court. Over this last season, he even showed improvement to his passing and playmaking ability. On his ESPN profile, it has strengths such as “super athletic wing” and “good passer with ability to play some PG”.
His profile also mentions that Mitchell “has the ability to be a lockdown defender.”
Back in the Fall, DraftExpress mentioned that defensive potential with his length and insane lateral quickness.
"“Among the most explosive players in the country, Mitchell is a powerful two-footed leaper who provided plenty of highlight reel material last season. The New York native also possesses terrific lateral quickness, giving him intriguing potential on the defensive end.” – Source: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Donovan-Mitchell-84680/ ©DraftExpress"
At the Combine, Mitchell also posted the fastest three-quarter sprint time since 2008 (per DraftExpress).
Combine all of that with his 6’10” wingspan and Mitchell has the potential to be something special on not just the offensive side, but the defensive side of the ball too.
So what sets Mitchell back from the top five point guard prospects then?
He does have inconsistencies when it comes to his shot decisions and shooting efficiencies. But there are also questions surrounding the position he will play at the next level. Where Fultz, Ball, Fox, Smith, and Ntilikina are all locked in as point guards, Mitchell is somewhat of a combo guard.
The key to everything is if a franchise believes he can play the point with the ball in his hands. If that is the case, then don’t be surprised if he challenges Ntilikina or Smith for that fifth point guard off the board.
For Dallas, many things will depend on who is drafted ahead of them on draft night.
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Hypothetically, let’s say that Fultz, Ball, Fox and Smith are off the board by the 9th pick. Then Dallas is selecting between the likes of Ntilikina, Markkanen, and others at nine. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they entertained the idea of selecting Mitchell.
Ntilikina is getting all the buzz in Dallas, but if Dallas’ brass believes he can run the point, watch out.
Mitchell would come in right away and give something similar to what Dennis Smith Jr. would bring to the Mavericks. A uber athletic point guard who can score from anywhere on the court. Mitchell would actually be the better defensive prospect though.
For myself, I could even see a case for Mitchell going over the likes of Ntilikina or Smith on draft night. If teams are uneasy about the unknown of Ntilikina or the past torn ACL of Smith, then don’t be completely caught off guard if he creeps into the top ten.
Donovan Mitchell could be the sleeper of this draft.