Gaining steam through the workout and interview process, Donovan Mitchell has a chance to land in the lottery as a 3 and D style off guard who can serve as a secondary ball handler in a pinch, given his improved pick and roll scoring and off the dribble shooting. With a 211-pound frame and a 6'10 wingspan, Mitchell can defend either guard spot, and even check some threes versus smaller lineups. A high-character athlete with culture-changing personality and work ethic, Mitchell should be able to survive anywhere from a mentality standpoint, but the basketball fit will be important in order to maximize his potential.
He's a ways away from being able to run an NBA team, as his feel for the game could still use some work, so putting him in a position to focus on defending, making open shots, getting downhill in space, moving off the ball, and being an athlete in transition will be key, similar to Norman Powell's development situation in Toronto.
Surrounding Mitchell with several players who think the game at a high level, namely a high IQ point guard to learn from, should help him improve his decision making, while still being able to focus on the things that can make him impactful early on in his career. Miscasting Mitchell as a lead guard and playing him as such early in his career could stunt his growth a little bit. Mitchell is getting looks as high as #8 from New York, and has a great chance to be picked 11th by Charlotte as a complement to Kemba Walker, or 12th by Detroit to operate in between Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. If not, don't expect him to fall very far past Miami (#14), Portland (#15) or Chicago (#16) at the absolute worst.
Scouting Report by Jonathan Givony. Video Analysis by Mike Schmitz
A late bloomer in high school, who saw his college recruitment take off towards the end of his junior year, Donovan Mitchell had an inconsistent freshman season at Louisville, coming off the bench and operating mostly off the ball. He made a big leap as a sophomore, blossoming into a First Team All-ACC and All-Defensive Team member, stepping into a go-to role for Rick Pitino, especially once his starting point guard Quentin Snider was forced to sit out six ACC games with an injury.
Mitchell's ascension continued at the NBA Draft Combine, where his stellar measurements, athletic testing numbers, 3-point shooting (in drills), and interviews propelled him into top-20 draft pick and potentially even lottery status.
Standing just 6'1 ¼ without shoes, Mitchell has less than ideal height for a NBA shooting guard, but compensates for that with a gigantic 6'10 wingspan, a chiseled 211 pound frame, and tremendous athleticism that allows him to play much bigger than his size. He's got great speed and body control in the open floor, and is a big time leaper off two feet, posting a 36 ½ inch no-step vertical at the Combine.
Mitchell's physical tools give him significant potential as a scorer in both the half-court and in transition. He is both shifty and powerful changing gears with long strides and the type of frame that can absorb contact en route to the basket, even if he's yet to fully harness this into a consistently efficient weapon. He covers ground impressively, and has the length to finish creatively around the basket, often mixing in spin moves.
Mitchell is almost exclusively a two-foot jumper, needing time to gather inside the paint and in turn losing a lot of his explosiveness on his drives, especially when forced to his weaker left hand. He doesn't get all the way to the rim as frequently as you might hope, as evidenced by his low 2P% (46%) and pedestrian free throw rate (4 attempts per-40), especially when operating against better defenses.
Continued skill-development will go a long way in unlocking Mitchell's potential as a creator in the half-court, as he's still working on making the full-time transition from the wing to the combo guard spot. He made strides with his ability to find the open man off simple drive and dish and pick and roll plays as a sophomore, but still plays too sped up at times, not always reading the floor and making the simple play, and lacking the height or exemplary court vision to see over the top of the defense with bigger opponents guarding him.
One area that Mitchell made significant strides in as a sophomore was as a perimeter shooter, more than tripling the amount of 3-pointers he made as a sophomore (even accounting for minutes played) while seeing his percentage rise from 25 to 35%. His mechanics are sound, with great balance, footwork and rise on both his pull-up and spot-up jumper, and he seems to have the potential to continue to improve in this area, especially when asked to play a more compact offensive role, with better shooters and spacing around him.
Mitchell is nevertheless a shot-maker who impresses you with his ability to elevate sharply off the ground and create space from opponents off of crossovers, step-backs and hang-dribbles. He also catches and shoots on the hop in a fluid motion, and hit a strong 81% of his free throws as a sophomore.
With that said, Mitchell was a very streaky shooter in his time in college, due to his less than stellar shot-selection. He has a tendency to settle for tough, contested pull-ups with a hand in his face a lot more frequently than you might hope, partially due to his lack of polish as a slasher, but also because of his average decision making skills. While he can make some of these attempts, at times in highlight reel fashion, this is a difficult way to make a living and something that dragged down his overall offensive efficiency significantly all season.
Perhaps the most appealing part of Mitchell's profile, particularly early on in his career, lies on the defensive end. Two years under Rick Pitino has benefited him greatly in this regard, as he's emerged as a multi-positional stopper who a coach can sic on point guards, shooting guards and even some small forwards and expect results. Mitchell has outstanding physical tools to get the job done, with his elite length, chiseled frame and quick feet, but also the mentality, as he's a highly competitive guy who is willing to pick up full court, get on the floor for loose balls, and generally make life difficult for opposing players. Mitchell has outstanding instincts off the ball, as evidenced by his 2.6 steals per-40 (#1 among all DX Top-100 prospects). Despite not possessing great height, his 6'10 wingspan is very difficult for opposing guards to shoot over, and he does a great job of getting underneath defenders, sliding his feet and using his strength to contain the ball.
Mitchell's intangibles are very attractive as well, and will likely give NBA teams confidence in his ability to continue to improve and reach his full potential. The strides he's made with his shooting mechanics over the past few years is a testament to the time he's put in working on his game. He's by all accounts a high character and very well spoken individual with a strong background, something that has reportedly shined through in private interviews he's conducted, according to NBA teams we've spoken with.
Mitchell has been one of the big risers of the pre-draft process early on, and it is not a surprise considering how trendy players in his mold are in today's NBA. He's got quite a few things to work on still, but also a strong framework to build off long-term.
Louisville Sophomore Guard Donovan Mitchell impressed on day one of the Combine with his huge 6'10 wingspan measurement, and he continued to leave his mark on day two, posting the highest standing vertical leap at 36.5. That number matches the marks of Iman Shumpert and former NBA Dunk Contest Champion Glen Robinson III. Mitchell also posted the fastest three-quarter court sprint time at just 3.01 seconds, which is the quickest time since Sonny Weems ran a 2.96 at the 2008 Combine. His 40 ½ inch max vertical was the fourth best at the Combine, and he also shot the ball well in the drills we watched. Mitchell, who just recently signed with an agent, has certainly boosted his stock with some elite physical and athletic testing.
Ryan Thomson takes a closer look at Louisville shooting guard Donovan Mitchell's performance against Indiana.
The 6'3 sophomore had arguably his best game at the college level, finishing with a very strong 25 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 33 minutes, shooting 8-15 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line.
Mitchell is having an inconsistent sophomore season, but has mixed in some very impressive performances like this game with strong outings against Notre Dame, Wichita State and Baylor to show NBA scouts the extent of his upside. Still, he's also struggled against some of the better defenses he's faced, such as Purdue, Kentucky and Virginia, combining to shoot 9 of 32 with 2 assists and 7 turnovers in those three contests.
On the season, Mitchell's numbers are mostly up across the board, as he's posting 18 points per-40 (up from 16), while averaging a stellar 3 steals per-40 (up from 1.8) as well. He continues to struggle to score the ball efficiently though, as he's shooting just 42% from 2-point range and 32% for 3. His 50% TS% is the fourth worst mark among all collegiate players in our Top-100 prospect rankings.
Louisville is 14-3 on the season and is currently 11th in the KenPom rankings.
Ryan Thomson is a video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and check out his DraftExpress Video Archive. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us.
A consensus top-35 high school recruit, Donovan Mitchell's freshman was mostly a learning process, as he averaged 7.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game Rick Pitino's 23-win Cardinal team that missed the postseason due to a self-imposed ban.
Listed at 6'3 with a strong 210-pound frame and good length, Mitchell as a bit undersized for a shooting guard, but compensates with tremendous athletic ability. Among the most explosive players in the country, Mitchell is a powerful two-footed leaper who provided plenty of highlight reel material last season. The New York native also possesses terrific lateral quickness, giving him intriguing potential on the defensive end.
As a true freshman, it was Mitchell's ability to make use of his athletic gifts that led to his most significant contributions offensively coming off the Cardinals' bench. Playing primarily off the ball doing the majority of his scoring filling lanes in transition or spotting up on the perimeter, but also getting some opportunities to create in the pick & roll, Mitchell finished the year as Louisville's fifth leading scorer, averaging an above average .931 points per possession.
Offensively, Mitchell is a bit of a mixed bag. He was most effective as a finisher last season, shooting 59% around the rim overall according to Synergy Sports Technology as his explosiveness made him a threat to go up and finish lobs or explode over defenders to finish in traffic off the bounce. Attacking the rim with reckless abandon and being unafraid of contact, Mitchell has a powerful first step and proves capable of turning the corner with or without a ball screen at times.
The challenge for Mitchell last season was making sound decisions with the ball when he did opt to put the ball on the floor. He posted a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and showed some advanced ball handling and drive and dish ability, but often looked sped up and wasn't always decisive enough to get all the way to the rim when penetrating, particularly when going left. His command in the pick and roll is a major work in progress and his ability to become a more capable shot creator for himself and others is a point of interest for scouts, as adding value as a secondary ball handler would really help his cause.
Part of Mitchell's struggles creating off the dribble are the result of his inconsistent jump shooting ability, as defenders frequently sagged off of him in the half court. Though there are some things to like about Mitchell's shooting mechanicsnamely that he usually shoots on balance and gets great elevation to go along with decent touchhis mechanical inconsistencies and lack of great fluidity led to inconsistent results. Knocking down just 27% of his catch and shoot jump shots in the half court, but 40% of his pull-up jumpers, Mitchell isn't an incapable jump shooter, and is actually quite effective from the midrange, but has a lot of room to grow as a 3-point threat.
On the defensive end, Mitchell's terrific physical profile gives him nice upside for the next level. His combination of strength and lateral quickness could allow him to defend both guard positions effectively, even if he'll give up some size to some NBA shooting guards. Getting lost and not always looking dialed in defensively last season, Mitchell has some work to do to reach his potential on this end. Despite his lapses, he did prove to be a pest at times too, as his physicality and quickness to the ball on the perimeter helped him disrupt opposing offenses in certain possessions.
Scouts will be keeping a close eye on the role Mitchell is asked to play this season. Losing Damion Lee, Trey Lewis, and Chinanu Onuaku to the pros, the Cardinals have a major void to fill offensively. It will be interesting to see if Mitchell can answer that call like Terry Rozier did in 2015, and what his performance in what figures to be a much larger role means to NBA draft stock.
One of the most gifted athletes in the college game, Donovan Mitchell is an engaging young man with interesting long-term potential. The 20-year-old Brewster Academy product figures to have a great opportunity to solidify himself as an NBA prospect this season. The development of his skill level playing on the ball is certainly worth keeping an eye on, as is his consistency on the defensive end.