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NBA draft grades: Kings stun by adding Mitchell to backcourt

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A day of chaos, turmoil and stress is over...or maybe it’s just begun. With the No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Kings selected Baylor point guard Davion Mitchell. 

While Mitchell is the defensive stalwart the Kings need, where he fits into the rotation is a huge question mark. An older prospect coming into the league, Mitchell is NBA ready, but he is now one of six guards in the Kings’ rotation that includes De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Delon Wright, Buddy Hield and restricted free agent Terence Davis. 

Something has to give and it won’t be Mitchell. This is a catalyst player that early in his career likely will come off the bench, but he’ll also see plenty of time as part of three-guard sets, which he played a ton of at the NCAA level.

Here is a deeper dive into what he brings to the court. 

The Numbers

Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 202 Age: 22

Stats: 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 51.1 field-goal percentage  44.7 3-point percentage

More of a defensive specialist, Mitchell’s impact on a game goes well beyond the numbers. He’s listed as 6-foot-1, but he plays much larger than that on the court. He can defend either guard position and there are even some small forwards he can shut down. 

He’s not a huge scoring threat, breaking the 20 point barrier just five times in 30 games at Baylor last season, but he’s efficient. He also posted double-figure assist totals three times and he registered at least one steal in 28 games.

 

Fit in Sacramento

This is the million-dollar question. The Kings were one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA last season and Mitchell hangs his hat on that end of the court. He fights through screens, gets in people’s faces and plays a lot like the Clippers' Patrick Beverley.

This is the best on-ball defender in the draft. He’s an irritant and an instigator that doesn’t mind taking the toughest cover or picking up an offensive player in the backcourt. He also averaged 1.9 steals per game, which jumps off the stat sheet.

The physicality he plays with will get him on the court early in his career, as will his ability to shoot the 3-ball. This is the trait that set off his meteoric rise during the draft process. An elite 3-and-D point guard is a rarity coming into the league. 

As a ball-handler, Mitchell managed a 5.5-to-2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has solid handles, a lightning-quick first step and good court vision. 

RELATED: Kings take Baylor guard Mitchell with No. 9 pick in draft

Mitchell excels off the catch-and-shoot in the half-court and he has an ability to get to the rim. He doesn’t have much game between the arc and the rim, and he needs to work on his floater. He also got to the free-throw line just 2.1 times per game and shot 64.1 percent from the stripe.

The key to Mitchell, outside of his defense, is the intangibles. This is the type of aggressive, forceful, no-nonsense player the Kings need. He’s a tough guy that will make an impact on his teammates and is a natural leader. Basically, you drafted a personality that can help change the culture of your franchise.

Grade: B-minus

This is a move before a move or it isn’t a move at all. The Kings already have a stack of guards, including their two focal points in Fox and Haliburton. Mitchell is different and can be a defensive catalyst, but where does he fit in?

This grade can improve, especially if Mitchell’s role becomes clearer and the Kings manage to open up rotational minutes by trading Wright and Hield in the coming days. But for now, it’s a head-scratcher, especially with players like Moses Moody still on the board.

Gambling on a culture changer makes sense, but drafting a guard in the top-10 to play behind your franchise player is going to take some explaining.