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Haliburton excited to play with 'defensive-minded' Mitchell

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“With the ninth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select Davion Mitchell, from Baylor University.” --Adam Silver

These words spoken by Commissioner Silver were unexpected. They hung in the air. Even Kendrick Perkins responded with “I’m speechless,” which may have been the first time he’s ever said that phrase.

General manager Monte McNair landed his guy for a second straight draft, even if the pick came completely out of left field. No one saw the Kings drafting another guard on draft night, not even Sacramento’s 2020 first-round pick Tyrese Haliburton. 

“I’m really interested and really excited about it,” Haliburton told JJ Redick and Tommy Alter on the latest episode of The Old Man and the Three podcast. “I think at first, the instant reaction by a lot of people was why would the Kings take another guard. They already have two guards, with Buddy [Hield] and Terrence Davis and the guards we have in our backcourt. But I see a fit because they’re bringing in another guy who’s very defensive-minded.”

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Mitchell is very different from Haliburton or starting point guard De’Aaron Fox. He’s a road grader on the defensive end and he brings a physicality that the Kings desperately need. 

Where he fits into the overall scheme is for head coach Luke Walton to figure out. Balancing this group of guards won’t be simple, but at the end of the day, talent is talent, regardless of size, position or play style.

 

“If you just keep bringing in more guys who are about the right things -- want to win, proven winners and talented guys -- it’s going to help,” Haliburton said. “So I’m really excited about it.”

The plan is for the Kings to run plenty of three-guard sets this season, although that won’t work against every team. Balancing 96 backcourt minutes is a task, even if Walton is able to steal a few minutes from the wing. 

These issues have a way of working themselves out, especially if you have players willing to focus on their strengths and sacrifice a little for the betterment of the team. It sounds like Haliburton is willing to do this and if the rest of the squad is willing to as well, the Kings may be onto something.