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30Q: Can Davion Mitchell win Defensive Player Of the Year?

It's unlikely, but we look at the path to the award anyway.

Welcome to 30Q, our annual September series where we ask a question a day to preview the upcoming season for the Sacramento Kings. Today's installment is a guest post. Please welcome Will_Z!

After winning the Summer League Championship, there is a buzz of hope and optimism around Sacramento. For the Kings to make the postseason, drastic changes are needed on defense and it looks like Davion Mitchell provides the defensive tenacity that this team has lacked for years. Mitchell was labeled a culture changer when he was drafted and showed that potential in summer league by consistently locking down the opponent’s top players and winning Co-MVP honors. Is it possible for Mitchell to add another trophy to his growing award collection this year? History shows that there is a path to winning Defensive Player of the Year but for Mitchell and the playoff-bereft Kings, it will be an extremely uphill battle.

Mitchell’s first challenge comes with his position as an undersized guard. The Defensive Player of the Year award was created after the 1982-83 season and has since been awarded to 23 players over 39 years. Of the 39 years, 29 have ended with the award going to a big man, four have been given to wings, leaving six years for a guard to take home the trophy. The last guard to win the defensive honor was Gary Payton back in 1996. A deeper look at the top three finalists shows a similar trend of bigs being favored in the voting process. Since the 2000-2001 season, 71.4% of finalists have been bigs, 23.8% were wings, and 4.8% were guards. The most recent guard in the final three was Ben Simmons last year, who uncharacteristically stands at 6’11” for a point guard. The only other guard finalists since 2001 were Kobe Bryant in 2002, and Dwayne Wade in 2009.

Not only is Mitchell at a disadvantage as a point guard, but he also stands at 6’2”. The shortest player to win DPOY was the 6’3” Sydney Moncrief who won the award in its first two seasons, 1983 and 1984. The average height of the 29 winners is 6’9”. What Mitchell lacks in size, he makes up for with a unique combination of speed, power, and tenacity that few other players have the drive or ability to match for an entire game.

Mitchell’s second task to overcome is his lack of experience in the league as a rookie. A rookie has never won Defensive Player of the Year. Only three players have won the award for the first time prior to their fourth season in the league; David Robinson (1992) and Mark Eaton (1985) both won after their third season, and Alvin Robertson (1986) won after his sophomore campaign. Furthermore, there has only been one rookie in history to make the top three finalist list. 7’7” Manute Bol was the runner up in 1986 after averaging 5 blocks per game, which something tells me Mitchell won’t do this year.

The last hurdle that Mitchell will have to clear is one that every Kings fan has been waiting for: the Kings need to make the playoffs. There has never been a Defensive Player of the Year whose team failed to do so.

Being an undersized guard, a rookie, and member of a team who needs to make the playoffs, it seems unlikely that Mitchell will be a top contender for this award, so it will take a near perfect season for Mitchell to carve his path to another trophy. Historical stats show the importance of steals and blocks, with 24 of the 39 winners ending the season in at least the top two of at least one category. Newer advanced stats show similar numbers, with 24 of 39 winners having the top two mark in either Defensive Wins Shared or Defensive Box Plus Minus. If you look at all four stats, 32 of the 39 winners have been in the top two of at least one of those four stats. During his last season at Baylor, Mitchell averaged 1.9 steals per game, which would have tied him with T.J. McConnel for second in the lead behind Jimmy Butler’s 2.1 per games. If he can maintain or build on this production, Mitchell may do enough to vault himself to the top of voter’s lists.

Another thing that NBA Award voters seem to love is a great story. The Kings’ 15-year playoff drought unintentionally sets up a remarkable story opportunity for Mitchell, a young undersized point guard who helped reshape the league’s worst defense and end the years long drought. If Mitchell can do that with great counting and advanced stats, he may have a chance to become the first rookie and shortest player ever to win Defensive Player of the Year.

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ZillersCat
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September 2, 2021 8:56 am

Should he be assessed in a NBA game ..
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Last edited 1 year ago by ZillersCat
andy_sims
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September 2, 2021 9:05 am

Based on his size (and I’m pretty sure he’s no taller than 6’0″), a DPOY would be a stretch. I’ll be content if all he does is get other teams’ scoring guards to think “aaahhh shit” when he comes into the game.

That’s something I’m very confident that he can achieve.

Kingsguru21
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September 2, 2021 9:06 am
Reply to  andy_sims

Other G’s aren’t going to enjoy Davion Mitchell, that’s for sure. Well put Sims.

murraytant
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September 4, 2021 1:48 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

oh, shit, I am going to have an off night.
I don’t think he gets DPOY- he is a guard, he is a rookie and he won’t get the minutes.
But I do think that the opponents guards will try to avoid him.

TerzoM
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September 2, 2021 9:10 am
Reply to  andy_sims

He’s a Rocket Scientist, he’ll be finecomment image

ForKingsandCountry
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September 2, 2021 12:21 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Yeah I be will totally content if that’s what he brings to this team night and night out.

Last edited 1 year ago by ForKingsandCountry
Kingsguru21
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September 2, 2021 9:05 am

I don’t know if any rookie has a shot at an award like DPOY, but I doubt Davion Mitchell does. I am looking forward to his on ball defense though.

OTOH, I typically pay no attention to awards.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 2, 2021 9:11 am

No. If Mitchell were to win DPOY it would mean he is also a lock for ROY, an All-Star and likely would garner some votes for MVP. Doing all of that would likely make him one of the greatest rookies of all time. I like pipe dreams and all, but that pipe would be lined with some serious hallucinogens. Right now Mitchell is not even slated to be a starter

andy_sims
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September 2, 2021 9:27 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I don’t think that anyone has a problem with this chemical-laden pipe of which you speak.

Last edited 1 year ago by andy_sims
1951
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September 2, 2021 9:12 am

“he may have a chance to become the first rookie and shortest player ever to win Defensive Player of the Year.”

This is like when Bagley said something to the effect of, “I am not going to be the ROY, I am going to be the league MVP!”

rockbottom
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September 2, 2021 9:17 am
Reply to  1951

Bagley has almost the same chance for MVP as Davion does for DPY ! That would be zero !

1951
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September 2, 2021 9:30 am
Reply to  rockbottom

Kings: Hey Luke. We drafted a defensive stud for you. Please conjure a scheme to maximize Mitchell’s talents and maybe get him to a DPOY level. That would be pretty sweet.

Luke:
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SMF-PDXConnection
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September 2, 2021 11:40 am
Reply to  1951

How’d you find a clip of him that animated and involved on the sidelines?

1951
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September 2, 2021 12:22 pm

I watched the tape.

Kosta
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September 2, 2021 1:46 pm
Reply to  1951

comment image&ct=g

RobHessing
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September 2, 2021 2:51 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Philly had Dr. J.

We get Dr. Nick.

murraytant
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September 4, 2021 1:50 pm

he yelled once and even broke a clip board. Oh Fluke, such emotion !

andy_sims
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September 2, 2021 9:28 am
Reply to  1951

Right, self-confidence in an athlete is such a turn-off.

Ask Ben Simmons.

1951
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September 2, 2021 9:32 am
Reply to  andy_sims

Self-confidence in an athlete is great … as long as you can deliver! 😉
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andy_sims
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September 2, 2021 9:55 am
Reply to  1951

The results are certainly the main thing, but players who lack confidence have a tough time achieving good results. Generally speaking, I’d rather have an overconfident player than one swimming in self-doubt. A player like that is essentially paralyzed.

Hamlet1989
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September 2, 2021 1:25 pm
Reply to  1951

Sublime Indifference of the noble competitor!

Hamlet1989
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September 2, 2021 1:28 pm
Reply to  1951

This is allegory at it’s finest! Thanks

aplumley
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September 2, 2021 9:17 am

I don’t know. Has anyone won both MVP and DPOY before? The MVP nod might disqualify him.

WizsSox
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September 2, 2021 9:25 am
Reply to  aplumley

Giannis, Jordan and Olajuwon have done it.

But Davion’s odds of doing that are about the same as mine.

Last edited 1 year ago by WizsSox
aplumley
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September 2, 2021 11:24 am
Reply to  WizsSox

I respectfully disagree, although I haven’t seen you play. With this new info I’d say he’s a LOCK for DPOY.

WizsSox
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September 2, 2021 12:27 pm
Reply to  aplumley

Not gonna lie…been working out. Vert is pushing at least 12 inches now.
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RobHessing
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September 2, 2021 12:28 pm
Reply to  WizsSox

Man, he clears those chairs and he’s going right through those glass bookcase doors.

WizsSox
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September 2, 2021 12:34 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

I teach JHS and coach…makes me cringe. Whatever setting he is in, good lord whose is the adult in there?

But I appreciate the content, so I should thank them for their lack of supervision : )

Last edited 1 year ago by WizsSox
RobHessing
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September 2, 2021 12:39 pm
Reply to  WizsSox

As someone that jumped off roofs and went head-first over mini-bike handlebars at that age, I have no idea how I have lived this long.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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September 2, 2021 12:49 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

comment image

Kosta
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September 2, 2021 1:27 pm
Reply to  WizsSox

maybe the camera guy?

Whatever setting he is in, good lord whose is the adult in there?

1951
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September 2, 2021 9:23 am

Also, is this some 4-D chess stuff?

I mean, when Davion Mitchell is traded to the Sixers for Ben Simmons and Ben Simmons wins DPOY for the Kings, then maybe Mitchell did bring a DPOY award to the Kings as a rookie!

Kosta
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September 2, 2021 9:24 am

He’ll probably be the Kings’ best defender.

“DAVION – FENSE!”
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Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
RikSmits
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September 2, 2021 9:24 am

I think that his style of defending may earn him a lot of foul trouble, especially in his rookie season.

That style of defense can thrive if the whole team is aggressive from the get go, and the refs don’t want to whistle every defensive possession. If it will only be Mitchell, he’ll stand out and will rack up fouls, I fear.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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September 2, 2021 9:31 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Agreed, I’m not looking forward the the likes of Tre Young and Harden flopping around like a fish out of water when Mitchell guards them. Stars get the calls.

Sacto_J
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September 2, 2021 10:41 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Who’s to say Davion isn’t a star…

Carl
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September 2, 2021 11:56 am
Reply to  Adamsite

He’ll have to pay his dues for a year or two, but eventually the refs will let him defend. It’s absolutely ridiculous, but I’d be shocked if it didn’t happen that way.

Rosevillain
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September 2, 2021 10:19 am
Reply to  RikSmits

Maybe the new rules help? They seemed to in Summer League.

Carl
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September 2, 2021 9:29 am

Another factor is team defense. The team is going to need to be at least average defensively for Mitchell to have any chance at league-wide awards recognition, now and in the future. I don’t think there’s much chance of this roster being good defensively, Mitchell or not.

1951
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September 2, 2021 9:36 am
Reply to  Carl

[See Luke Walton Joke above!]

HongKongKingsFan
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September 2, 2021 9:44 am
Reply to  Carl

Any statistic on the team defense rating on

1) The start of last season (i.e. with CoJo, GR3, Jeffries)

compare with

2) Mid-season after the trade (with Harkless, Wright and TD)

As I still think after the trade above, the team defense get better……it was just way too bad on team defense during the first period of last season.

So, with the addition of Mitchell, there should be more obvious good team defense.

RAP87
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September 2, 2021 9:59 am

With a slightly better supporting cast (Mitchell, Davis, Harkless, Len) and a new defensive coordinator, I expect the defense would be much improved especially they brought back most of the guys from last year so the chemistry is already there. If they can manage to be top 15 in defensive rating or even top 18. I think they have a shot making the playoffs or play-in at the minimum.

NorCalKingsFan
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September 2, 2021 5:59 pm
Reply to  RAP87

Less PT for Hield and Bags also improves the D

rff
citykidd
September 2, 2021 12:20 pm

I can appreciate everyone’s optimism about DPOY for Davion but aren’t we getting beside ourselves. Being a great defender in college and summer league doesn’t translate to the regular season. Teams are going to try him, put him in the action, use his aggressiveness against him and though he’s fundamentally sound he going to have to show he can play NBA next level defense.

RobHessing
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September 2, 2021 12:27 pm

Well, he is going to get a lot more national exposure in Philly…comment image

Daydreamer
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September 2, 2021 12:49 pm

Not on the topic of DPOY, but concerning Mitchell’s defense and practice habits: Imagine the effect of Mitchell’s guarding them in practice every day on Fox, Halliburton, and Hield. (1) It should force them to step up their offensive skill. (2) He may demonstrate daily how to play aggressive on-ball defense, leading them to up their defense.

Kosta
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September 2, 2021 1:34 pm
Reply to  Daydreamer

Yeah–didn’t Chicago get that particular benefit when they acquired former King Randy Brown? He was known for his defense and was good for Jordan to go up against him
in practice, if I remember correctly.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kosta
TheGrantNapear
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September 2, 2021 1:45 pm

I think Davion is more likely to win sixth man of the year than defensive player of the year.

Malrock
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September 2, 2021 2:06 pm

To those who say no he can’t win you are mistaken. Of course he can. Is it likely maybe not but until it is awarded to another player he can still theoretically win it. It is still within the realm of possibility.

1951
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September 2, 2021 2:29 pm

Hey all,

We have an open spot on the unofficial TKH member Fantasy Basketball league. Haven’t drafted yet and the team you will take over gets three keepers to choose from a roster including Luka, PG13, Jamal Murray, Klay, and Gordon Hayward.

Let me know if you are interested!

WizsSox
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September 2, 2021 3:31 pm
Reply to  1951

If someone commits to choosing Murray, Klay and Hayward as their 3 keepers, I bet you have a good chance of getting the team.
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Last edited 1 year ago by WizsSox
Malrock
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September 3, 2021 10:03 am
Reply to  1951

I would be willing to play.

1951
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September 3, 2021 10:09 am
Reply to  Malrock

Awsome. Someone expressed interest in the other thread. They were 1st in time but if they don’t commit I’ll give it to you!

1951
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September 3, 2021 10:37 am
Reply to  Malrock

Looks like he/she bowed out, so it’s yours! Can you stealthily give me your email address?

Malrock
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September 3, 2021 12:39 pm
Reply to  1951

Yes but how do we facilitate such a thing? Also what is the method by which you usually draft is this a yahoo league?

Malrock
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September 3, 2021 12:54 pm
Reply to  Malrock

Do we want to meet up online at a specific time? Say 3pm pacific?

murraytant
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September 4, 2021 1:55 pm
Reply to  1951

Do I get a training staff too? Klank is out, Murray is out and Hayward is just getting ready to get out. and this is the year that Luka gets hurt- too many hard minutes as of late.

Ccc
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Ccc
September 4, 2021 10:03 pm

i don’t know. It’s possible.

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