SACRAMENTO -- The Davion Mitchell era of Kings basketball has begun.
While the California Classic is just an exhibition tournament leading up to another exhibition tournament in the Las Vegas Summer League, Mitchell started at the point guard position for Sacramento. He gave the fans a little taste of what they should expect once the regular season begins in October.
The 6-foot-1 point guard showed off his defensive tenacity, blowing through screens and anticipating passes. He finished with three very impressive steals, two of which led to transition points on the other end.
Mitchell showed so much grit and competitive spirit that the fans at Golden 1 Center behind “MVP” chants late in the Kings’ 89-82 loss.
“They are going to love him because he competes,” Kings summer league coach Bobby Jackson said. “He’s going to lay it on the line every single night and that’s the one thing about Sacramento -- once they find a guy that they know is going to compete at a high level every single night, they’re going to fall in love with you.”
On the offensive end, he turned on the jets, used a killer crossover and scored 12 of his 23 points in an impressive first half. He knocked down 9-for-18 from the field overall, showing an ability to score at the rim and created space on his jumper.
Mitchell looked a little stiff early in the game, but as he settled in, you could see his confidence grow. He got comfortable, picked up his head on the dribble and his court vision improved. He managed just one assist on the night, but his teammates didn’t exactly help in this area.
“That first game jitters, we kinda all had it, especially with me, I turned the ball over the very first possession,” Mitchell said. “But I got comfortable. My teammates gave me a lot of encouragement, telling me it’s okay and to go onto the next play. They did a very good job of that.”
This was only the start for the 22-year-old out of Baylor. He’ll have plenty of games over the next two weeks to settle in and create a punch list of items to improve on before the training begins in late September.
Mitchell cramped up late in the game and sat out the final seconds, but he said he felt okay when he spoke to the media. He wasn’t sure if he’ll be ready to play Wednesday night against the Lakers, but he didn’t consider his issue serious.
“He hasn’t played 5-on-5 for a while, so he was kinda drained and tired,” Jackson said of Mitchell. “As you can tell, he started cramping up, but once he gets into great shape, I think we’re going to play a little faster.”
Louis King already has one of the Kings’ two-way contracts locked up and he looked solid at times against the Warriors, but he turned the ball over too much. Sacramento is basically having an open audition for their two-way slot during summer league.
Whether it’s one of their own players or someone on an opposing team, every game is an opportunity to make an impression. In the California Classic opener, a pair of players stood out.
Undrafted rookie Matt Coleman out of Texas looked fluid, explosive and confident on the court. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-11 from the field and 2-of-4 from long range. He also chipped in four assists, two rebounds and a steal in 26 minutes.
“Matt’s great, I think he’s going to be one of the guys we have in the G League with us,” Jackson said. “Very tough, defensive-minded, went to school for four years, a little older. But he competes.”
In addition to Coleman, Emanuel Terry was impactful, especially on the glass where he managed to grab 14 rebounds and score nine points in 26 minutes of action. The 24-year-old big man looks like a solid lob threat and he’s extremely active, but he needs to continue to improve if he’s going to stick in the league.