Does it makes sense for the Washington Wizards to draft Davion Mitchell in the 2021 NBA Draft? It’s an interesting question. Neither Russell Westbrook or Bradley Beal seem particularly interested in playing consistent perimeter defense so, having a strong point of attack defender like Mitchell makes sense. But can a team with as many pressing needs as the Wizards afford to spend a lottery pick on a 22-year-old point guard?
Watching him relentlessly hound Jalen Suggs and the other Gonzaga guards during the national championship increased his national profile, and likely his draft stock. For those who didn’t watch much college basketball, picture Patrick Beverley’s defense with UCONN Kemba Walker’s offense.
Draft analysts at CBS liked what they saw during the NCAA Tournament because they now have Mitchell going 6th overall to Washington in their latest mock draft.
“Massive jump for Davion Mitchell, one of the true breakout stars of the NCAA Tournament,” wrote CBS’ Kyle Boone. “He’s a bit older — he’ll turn 23 later this year — but this draft really drops off after the first five so this is a fine range for him. With his impact as a lockdown defender, basket-maker with burst and overall creator with the ball, I bid you good luck finding someone who is more sound on both ends as a guard at this spot.”
On the plus side, Mitchell has shown he is a "gamer" and looked his best in big moments. He’s an absolute menace defensively and opposing guards will have to be on high alert with him applying constant pressure. He’s also shown marked improvement as a shooter and has great speed to get by defenders.
There are still some serious question marks that I think will ultimately lead to him falling later than where CBS has him projected to go. Mitchell is old by draft standards, supposedly shorter than his listed 6-2, and he was a bad three-point shooter up until this season. Obviously, players can improve but Mitchell was a mid-60s free throw shooter all three seasons, which is usually a better indicator of long-term shooting potential than college three-point percentage.
The CBS mock draft isn’t much of an outlier. Chad Ford also has him sixth and ESPN currently has Mitchell at 8 on its big board. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report each have him at 11.
Jalen Suggs vs Davion Mitchell tonight. Quick breakdown on why Mitchell has been so difficult to defend in the NCAA Tournament, which players he resembles, and why I think he’s a top-10 prospect in this draft. pic.twitter.com/Ae2YT7tPmG— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) April 5, 2021
On the other hand, Bullets Forever’s Kevin Broom ran Mitchell through his stat-based draft analysis tool and says Mitchell rates as a late first — mid-20s in a typical draft year.
“His stock shot up during the postseason tournaments,” Broom texted me last night. “That might actually be a warning sign. Guys like that often end up getting over-drafted. If he’s just popping that high, he’s probably getting overrated. Be wary of tournament heroes.”
At the top of the draft, Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green, and Jonathan Kuminga seem pretty close to locked in as the top 5 picks. After that, there isn’t anything close to a consensus.
This is a wing heavy draft and someone like Arkansas freshman Moses Moody could make a lot of sense for the Wizards as a true 3-and-D option. Most of the big men projected near the lottery have serious question marks of their own (like Usman Garuba’s size and shooting) or have struggled with consistency (Texas’ Kai Jones disappeared for long stretches).
Keeping all of that in mind, how would you feel about the Wizards taking a shot on Mitchell outside the top 5?