Donavan Mitchell has Atlanta Hawks written all over him. Much like Mitchell’s college head coach, Rick Pitino, Mike Budenholzer is a defense first coach. The Hawks showed how much they valued defense when they elected to overpay Kent Bazemore this past offseason. With the team now in a sticky situation financially, they may try to get rid of his contract and find a replacement. Mitchell can offer what Bazemore can on the defensive side of the ball, but has a much higher ceiling offensively.
Mitchell comes from a family of athletes. His dad played minor league baseball and is now a scout for the New York Mets. Mitchell was actually going to play baseball in college rather than basketball, but after breaking his wrist during an infield collision, he reevaluated his options and decided to choose the basketball path. He has never looked back.
Louisville fans always knew Donovan had potential, but they could not have predicted his sophomore year breakout. Mitchell’s play on both sides of the ball had him elected to First-team All-ACC, and he was the anchor for Louisville all year long. He is a great athlete, and uses this to his advantage to be one of the best defenders in college basketball. As a freshman, Mitchell struggled to shoot the deep ball, but he made huge strides in his offensive game which made him the best scorer Louisville has seen since Russ Smith. He improved his 3-point percentage to 35% and showed a great ability to get to the hole. His offensive game can be streaky, but there is no denying his possesses a great offensive arsenal.
Another aspect of Mitchell’s game that is super underrated is his rebounding ability for his size. Though just 6’3″, Mitchell averaged just under five rebounds per game. This is largely due in part to his ridiculous 6’10” wingspan. Many consider him to be a tweener at the guard position, but this wingspan should allow Mitchell to hold his own at the next level. The Hawks like for their wing guys to not only play good defense, but also have good rebounding ability. This is a huge reason why they took Taurean Prince with their first pick last year. Like Prince, Mitchell is just now getting lottery attention with the Draft near and has been a late riser. This is largely in part due to his performance at the NBA Scouting Combine, where scouts have been salivating over the following measurables:
Body fat: 5.9 percent.
Hand length: 8 1/2 inches.
Hand width: 9 1/2 inches.
Height with shoes: 6-3.
Standing reach: 8-1.
Weight: 211.4 pounds.
The bad news for Hawks fans is he is looking less and less likely to be on the board at 19th overall. The good news is that the team has the first pick in the second round if they have to move up a couple spots to get him. If Mitchell’s game can translate to the NBA, the ideal scenario would be to pair him alongside Taurean Prince on the wing to create a deadly duo that could rebound, defend, and score at a high level. This would also allow Tim Hardaway Jr. to assume more of a sixth man role, which appears to be a better fit for his skillset. Louisville has not done a great job of producing NBA talent, but Mitchell has the talent to break that trend.
Roll the tape: