Donovan Mitchell was one of the most improved players in the ACC this season, going from being a role player as a freshman to earning First Team All-ACC honors as a sophomore. He more than doubled his scoring average, going from 7.4 to 15.6, and saw his numbers increase in just about every category. Despite standing just 6-3, Mitchell possesses a freakish 6-10 wingspan and an NBA-ready 210 lb. frame. He is an outstanding athlete and is one of the quickest players in the draft. He also might be the best defensive prospect among guards.
Mitchell’s athleticism, explosiveness and quickness are the first things that stick out about his offensive game. He changes gears with ease, making him a dynamic weapon in transition. Sometimes he can be too quick for his own good as he is prone to committing turnovers and forcing up wild shots with a head of steam. His outstanding length helps him finish some of those difficult shot attempts, but he doesn’t score with much efficiency around the rim. Mitchell shot just 46% from inside the three-point line. He isn’t as explosive off of one foot in traffic and struggles to get all the way to the rim in a crowd. Mitchell has the strength to absorb contact, but he simply doesn’t seek it out as he averaged just 3.2 FTA per game.
Where Mitchell most improved from his freshman to sophomore season was with his three-point shooting. Last season, Mitchell shot just 25% from deep on 2.3 attempts per game. This season, he boosted those numbers to 35% on 6.6 attempts per game. He has a good looking shooting form and can hit jumpers either off the catch or off the dribble. He’s skillful at using his handles to create space to get his shot off. He can easily stop on a dime to rise up and hit a step back mid-range jumper over defenders. He does become too reliant on getting these shots up, often taking low-percentage shots early in the shot clock. He should look to improve his driving and playmaking abilities so he doesn’t have to depend on so many tough pull-up jumpers.
Mitchell is slightly undersized for an NBA shooting guard, so teams will likely look to use him as a combo guard. However, Mitchell’s point guard polish isn’t very good yet and he’s still developing as a playmaker. He looks for his shot first and foremost, which could limit his role to a scorer off the bench. Mitchell is capable of running the pick-and-roll where he likes to either pull up for a jumper or use his shiftiness to split the defenders. He only averaged 2.7 assists last season, but also committed just 1.6 turnovers, showing he can take care of the ball.
Where teams may be most excited about Mitchell is with his defensive ability. He’s a versatile defender who can use his quickness, length and strength to defend both guard positions and maybe even some forwards. His 6-10 wingspan makes it burdensome for players to drive past or shoot over Mitchell. Also, unlike most players his age, Mitchell is consistently dialed in on the defensive end of the floor. He shows a high motor and a mentality to defend at a high level, often pressuring ball-handlers the full length of the court. He’s aware playing off-ball defense as well, routinely getting into passing lanes, as he snagged 2.1 steals per game last season.
Donovan Mitchell is one of the most versatile prospects on both sides of the floor. Offensively, Mitchell has the size and quickness to play both guard positions. He will need to improve his playmaking and shot selection, but if he polishes up his decision making, he can be an effective combo guard. Defensively, he is especially exciting with his ability to defend several different positions. Mitchell took a big step forward as a sophomore and after an impressive performance at the NBA Draft Combine, teams will be optimistic he will only continue to grow as a player. Versatility is crucial in today’s NBA, and Mitchell can be a major asset as a top 20 draft pick.