Thanks to some NBA draft lottery luck, the Golden State Warriors have a pair of lottery picks and some decisions to make regarding them.
The Warriors can use both picks to expand their roster with two rookies. This route would give Golden State even more young talent, potentially setting up the franchise in the long run.
The alternative would be packaging either pick in a trade deal to acquire a more experienced player that helps the Warriors immediately. This can be an attractive option, because there’s no need to develop the pick’s talent, which Golden State is already doing with last year’s draft pick, James Wiseman.
But is it possible the Warriors could find a rookie who can contribute right away with a minimal adjustment period?
According to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz, Baylor’s Davion Mitchell is the “most NBA-ready prospect” of the 2021 draft. It’s possible the Warriors could take him with the No. 7 pick — which they acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves — or even with the No. 14 pick, depending on how the draft plays out.
In the early aftermath of the draft lottery, Mitchell has become a popular choice for the Warriors at No. 7 in a variety of mock drafts — including USA Today’s Rookie Wire, The Mercury News, NBA Canada and The Ringer.
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Mitchell is a point guard from Baylor who played a key role in helping the team win the national championship this past season.
The junior started in all 30 of Baylor’s games and was an effective two-way player for the Bears. He averaged 14.0 points, 5.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 33.0 minutes per game, was selected to the All-Big 12 team, and was voted the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Mitchell’s collegiate career began at Auburn, where he spent the 2017-18 season. He then transferred to Baylor and redshirted the 2018-19 season before making his debut as a Bear during the 2019-20 season. Following his first season at Baylor, the Big 12 named him its Newcomer of the Year.
The 22-year-old has the potential to be an effective two-way player in the league. As Baylor’s starting point guard, Mitchell was Baylor’s assists leader at 5.5 per game, and he also averaged 14.0 points per game — ranked third on the team.
Scoring-wise, Mitchell shot an efficient 51.1% from the field and 44.7% on 3-point attempts. These shooting percentages were both significant improvements from his 2019-20 season numbers of 40.9% from the field and 32.4% on 3-pointers.
Mitchell is also an appealing player on the defensive end.
Kyle Irving of NBA Canada said that Mitchell could be “the best perimeter defender in this draft class” and noted his effective defensive abilities:
His in-your-face defence pairs well with his quickness and physicality to make life as difficult as possible for opposing ball-handlers. He’s pesky and gritty on that end of the floor, taking pride in shutting down his opponents with a willingness to pick up his assignment as far as 94-feet from the basket. His lateral quickness and defensive instincts allow him to often beat opponents to their spot, drawing charges or swiping steals without fouling.
Even as a rookie, Mitchell’s two-way game could make him useful and an immediate contributor to a Warriors team that wants to win now. In The Ringer’s latest mock draft, Kevin O’Connor said, “Mitchell could help now, and be a bridge toward sustaining success into the future.”
At 22 years old, Mitchell is an older NBA draft prospect. This could limit his potential for growth as an NBA player, but there is also the upside of having a more-developed game that could make him more NBA-ready compared to others in his draft class.
NBA Canada’s Irving and NBADraft.net pointed out that Mitchell has a limited leaping ability. Taking into account his height, this could make Mitchell a liability in the paint. NBA draft expert Chad Ford reported that, at the NBA Draft Combine, Mitchell measured at just 6 feet tall without shoes.
In addition, Mitchell does not get to the charity stripe much, nor does he shoot well when he does get foul shots. During his junior season, the point guard shot just 64.1% on 2.1 free throw attempts per game.