Kemba Walker is once again on the mend — this time for a left oblique strain. While recent weeks have gifted us glimpses of “prime Kemba,” injuries and finances continue to shed doubt over Walker’s staying power in Beantown.
Walker remains under contract through the 2022-23 season with an increasing deal that will peak north of $37.6 million in the final year. For all the good he brings to Boston’s lineup, by the conclusion of his contract (if he isn’t traded by then), Walker will be a 33 years old, 6-foot, sub-185-pound point guard with questionable knees.
It’s not crazy to think the Celtics could begin to dip their hands in the market for a potential predecessor to Walker come this offseason — if not, at least a player capable of taking some of the heavy workload off of Walker’s plate. Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley would seemingly agree. This is why the B/R columnist has Baylor combo guard Davion Mitchell topping Boston’s draft board, a player who could either slide in next to Kemba as part of the Celtics’ backcourt rotation or eventually replace him as the team’s “lead guard.”
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Davion Mitchell Tops Celtics ‘Draft Big Board’
Mitchell lit up the NCAA tournament en route to a National Championship. Now, the Baylor product is ready to take the NBA by storm, and Buckley believes Boston is the best place for him to do so.
“As a key contributor in Baylor’s championship run, Davion Mitchell might have played his way out of Boston’s draft range,” Buckley wrote. “But if he somehow slips to the Celtics—or they get to his selection spot—he’d be a good get for a team in need of backcourt depth.”
“Boston clearly needs reliability at the lead guard spot given Kemba Walker’s trouble shaking a nagging knee injury. The Celtics hoped they would get that out of Jeff Teague, but it was obvious early on that wouldn’t be the case,” he added. “Rookie Payton Pritchard has provided a nice jolt, but he’s more of a scorer than a table-setter.”
Readily Likened to Utah Jazz Star Donovan Mitchell
They share the same last names. They share the same number. Some are even convinced that they share the same mother. But no, Davion Mitchell and Donovan Mitchell are not related. And no Damian Lillard, the Utah Jazz star did not pull a “22 Jump Street” and give it the ol’ college try for the second time — although that would be pretty awesome.
While Donovan isn’t a point guard by designation, he’s been known to man ball-handling duties from time to time throughout his career in Utah. Davion may be able to work in a similar role with the Celtics. While some have questioned his ability to fully run the show at point guard, his defensive tenacity — winner of the 2021 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award — and expanding shot efficiency could fit in nicely aside and/or behind Walker while he continues to develop his on-ball skills.
“Mitchell, then, could slide in as a secondary distributor with a rapidly improving outside shot (career-high 44.7 percent from three this season) and a Marcus Smart-type of relentless approach to the defensive end,” Buckley noted.
As for the Mitchell-Mitchell connection, the constant comparisons have actually brought both men together. Donovan shared some words of wisdom with Davion during his National Championship run and even rocked the Baylor star’s jersey as part of his pre-game wardrobe.
“I think the coolest part is everybody knows that he can defend, and he can do so many different things,” Donovan said of Davion, via Deseret News. “But he’s shooting the ball well off the dribble, getting his teammates involved and just being the leader as a whole. Understanding that he can shoot the ball every time, but he defers and finds ways to get everybody involved collectively.”
“For me that’s what it’s all about,” Donovan added. “Just being able to have that conversation was big for him, but also big for me because it was just really cool to have that moment.”