Wizards

NBA Draft: Mitchell could be elite perimeter defender

Wizards

The Washington Wizards are picking squarely in the middle of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Whether Washington trades up, down or stays firm at No. 15, here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who the Wizards could consider selecting.

2021 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Davion Mitchell

School/team: Baylor

Position: Guard

Age: 22

Height: 6-1

Weight: 202

Wingspan: 6-4

2020/21 stats: 30 G, 11.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.4 bpg, 51.1 FG% (5.3/10.3), 44.7 3PT% (2.1/4.7), 64.1 FT%

Player comparison: Marcus Smart, Lu Dort

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 7th, Sports Illustrated 16th, Ringer 7th, NBADraft.net 10th, Bleacher Report 9th

5 things to know:

-Mitchell is known for his physical defense on the perimeter. He was a driving force for the national champion Baylor Bears, winning Big 12 defensive player of the year. He averaged 1.9 steals per game. Mitchell is very quick and was able to stay in front of some of the best guards in the nation as a college player. He will have to do that against even faster and much bigger guards in the NBA. But he's got a strong upper body and does a good job of initiating contact to make opponents uncomfortable.

-He can also shoot very well from three-point range. Mitchell made 44.7 percent of his threes and with volume, at 4.7 attempts per game. Those numbers made a big jump from the year before, as he was previously not much of a threat from beyond the arc. Mitchell clearly put in a lot of hard work to develop that skill before leaving college. He showed this past season he can not only make threes off catch-and-shoot plays, but also off the dribble, sometimes with defenders right on him.

 

-Mitchell wasn't a big-time scorer, but he did flash high-end potential in a few games. He had 31 points and made 7-of-9 threes against Kansas State, plus 27 points on 5-of-7 threes against Texas. He dropped 20 or more points five times this season, actually with three of those games coming against Kansas State. But his scoring in his college generally depended on whether he got hot from three. Some nights, he was on fire. He's also a solid passer, able to thread the needle in the halfcourt and zip accurate long range passes in transition.

-He came in a little smaller than listed at the NBA combine, measuring in at just over 6-foot-1 when he had been listed at 6-foot-2. He has a plus wingspan, but not by much at 6-foot-4. Whether any of that affects his draft stock, we'll see. Much of his appeal is in his intangibles, anyways.

-Mitchell began his college career at Auburn before transferring. He also played three seasons in college. He's 22 years old and will turn 23 in September, before training camp. Those types of players don't often get picked very high, but Mitchell's draft stock seems fairly strong.

Fit with Wizards:

Mitchell is not expected to be available when the Wizards are on the board with the 15th pick, at least at this point. He's in the range which can be fairly unpredictable, as recent years have shown. Maybe teams overthink his age or his combine measurements and opt for younger players with more athletic upside.

If he did fall, Mitchell would be a good option for the Wizards, who aim to continue to improve their defense. Mitchell would give them the potential for what would essentially be a better version of Raul Neto. Mitchell could provide some of the same things Neto did, but with a a higher ceiling on both ends of the floor.

At 15, the Wizards are unlikely to find a player who can help them immediately, but Mitchell would have as good a chance as anyone. He would slide right into a backup role behind Russell Westbroook and bring defensive toughness to the second unit. Mitchell on the perimeter with Daniel Gafford on the backend would be a nice combination.

Mitchell's heart and physical defense would bring an element the Wizards need more of. They also need shooting, which he can provide. In the long-term, Mitchell could develop into a starting point guard with Westbrook only having two years left on his contract. By the time his deal is up, Mitchell would be 25.

It would require Mitchell to go lower than expected on draft night, but he would find a good fit in Washington.