SG Louisville Donovan Mitchell 6’3” 215 6’11” wingspan
Player Comparison: Marcus Smart/ Normal Powell
Why here: Originally I had Mitchell falling out of the lottery, a decision that I tweaked because of his clear rise through draft workouts and GM interviews. Mitchell is an athletic freak whose defensive prowess will mesh perfectly on a team attempting to mold itself with a strong defensive gene. He should have the ability to assist Kemba’s remaining defensive deficiencies while allowing the Hornets to play small and slot Batum and MKG up a position. With the new addition of Dwight Howard and the presence of Clifford as a D-first coach, this team has the potential to be atop the defensive leaders next season. Also, Mitchell’s nickname is apparently The Spider.
Strengths: Is short but has elite frame and strength. An intense, uber-athletic competitor with explosiveness on both ends. Measures out well with impressive speed and quickness (fastest ¾ court sprint in combine)… has power off two feet… great body control and hesitation moves in transition and on drive… no issues with contact in air or during dribbling. Has heart and toughness. 36.5 inch vert.
Zippy and sturdy defender… impressive full body strength with quick arms, hands, and feet… ball ripper as help defender… does well guarding up positions, can even handle some fours for small stretches. Knack for blocking and tipping jump shots. Anticipates offensive sets and makes impressive adjustments.
Isn’t an elite finisher with creativity at the rim, but shows potential and high points with impressive angles and hangtime off the drive. Boom-shaka-laka dunk threat, especially on back door alleys… dunks on dribble drive less frequently but still a good amount for a guard (is more explosive jumper off two feet than one). Plays confidently in the p&r… is capable but not extreme play maker… more frequently than not takes it himself. Very decisive and quick power dribbler… not many dribble moves other than an ankle cracking cross. Some spins on the drive.
Good jumpshooting foundation… consistent off the catch and in one or two dribble pull-ups with space… range from beyond the three… with quick release, good lift, and long reach, he doesn’t need much space to get the shot off… has good footwork for step backs and convincing up fakes.
Weaknesses: Makes poor decisions as a jump shooter (a bit of irrational confidence). Overconfidence results in slumps and streaks… isn’t great shooter in traffic… settles for difficult looks… puts up lots of contested threes and long twos. Can improve his touch around the rim in terms of finesse… pretty small range of approach shots; he lacks a convincing floater or runner. Although he doesn’t struggle with contact, he fails to transfer bumps into many FT attempts.
Needs to improve his passing skills. Is going to be off guard one/two flex, but will need basic foundation of distributing to be effective in team role. Attempts tricky passes outside of his repertoire (again could be attributed to his irrational confidence). Is effective as short stint play maker in p&r but makes poor choices after a couple dribbles—best when making early over the top/bounce entry pass rather than wrapping one around defenders or tossing lobs on the drive.
Outlook: I have Smart as a comp, a player type that Charlotte does not yet have their hands on. He will also bode well as a small ball two or three in certain lineups. I trust his skills will translate well and won’t be surprised if he is highly regarded as a steal, even at this early in the first round.
Random Prediction: 2023 All NBA First Defense. 2x All NBA Second Defense (2024-2025). 2023 All Star Game injury fill in.