Mitchell's defense could bode well for Warriors in NBA draft

Davion Mitchell
  • This is the first installment in our Warriors NBA draft series breaking down potential targets for Golden State. Warriors insider Monte Poole and reporter Kendra Andrews each drafted seven players who could be an option for Golden State at either No. 7 or No. 14.

With the 2021 NBA Draft still three weeks away, the Warriors are evaluating all of their options with the No. 7 and No. 14 picks. One name that is part of their evaluation process is Davion Mitchell, the guard out of Baylor.

Mitchell arguably is one of this year's draft's most NBA-ready prospects with his defensive ability, shooting and skill as a ballhandler.

But without a doubt, Mitchell's best asset is his defense.

On his way to leading the Bears to the national championship, Mitchell was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (the first player in Baylor history to do so).

He has quick feet, allowing him to beat most offensive players to their spots and draw offensive fouls, while also being able to fight through screens. Mitchell's quick feet also lend well to transition defense. He gains speed quickly running the floor and stops a lot of easy transition buckets, or at least, makes sure there is a body present when the opponent takes the shot. 

Mitchell is one of, if not the best perimeter defender in the draft. Picking players up full court, he's a pest when defending on-ball and can use his strength to go up against larger wings on switches. Off-ball, he's got strong instincts, making the correct reads, rotating at the right time and showing good anticipation in the passing lanes.

On offense, Mitchell wasn't tasked with as much responsibility, but he did his part. He averaged 14.1 points -- on 51.5 percent field goal shooting and 44.7 percent from three on 4.7 attempts per game -- 5.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 30 games. Mitchell had a 61.3 percent effective field goal percentage and drew comparisons to Utah's Donovan Mitchell with his ability to create separation off the dribble.


Mitchell measured in shorter than expected at the NBA combine, perhaps deterring some teams that were once interested, but not all hope should be lost. He has a strong frame and proved in college that he has the strength to guard bigger players.

As far as perceived weaknesses go, it will be pivotal for Mitchell to improve his catch-and-shoot shooting from distance. He thrives in ISO situations, but those situations are harder to succeed in NBA action, especially as a rookie, and there's a chance that he won't be the dominant ball-handler on the floor. Mitchell saw a big shooting bump from his sophomore to junior year, so he must prove that his improved shot is legitimate. He also has to get better at getting to the free throw line (he only took 64 last season), and knocking them down once he gets there. 

With the Warriors, Mitchell would slot in alongside Jordan Poole, giving Golden State a dynamic backcourt bench behind Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Poole would provide the second unit with a scoring boost, while Mitchell has the potential to lead the defensive effort.

Because Mitchell is considered more NBA-ready, adding him to the roster would fit the Warriors' desire to win now, while also balancing out the development needed for James Wiseman and other members of the team. 

RELATED: Could Warriors trade up to No. 1 if Piston want to move down?

Davion Mitchell profile

Position: Guard

Class: Junior

Birthdate: September 5, 1998

Hometown: Hinesville, Georgia

2020-21 season averages: 14.0 points (51.1 percent FG, 44.7 percent 3-point, 64.1 percent FT), 2.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 0.4 blocks

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 202

Wingspan: 8-0

What they're saying: "His unique trajectory, work ethic and willingness to defend his position are all appealing. Mitchell is undersized but an excellent athlete, and took his offensive game to another level this season. There are still some questions about his jumper, and he plays a somewhat predictable style of offense, predicated mostly off strong-hand drives, but his quickness and improved playmaking skills feel translatable." -- Jeremy Woo, Sports Illustrated

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