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Season Review: Davion Mitchell

Davion "Off-Night" Mitchell continued to hound ball-handlers around the league, but there's room for improvement with his shooting from deep.
By | 55 Comments | Jun 12, 2023

April 17, 2023; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Davion Mitchell (15) celebrates against the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter in game two of the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Typically, second-year players are able to build on their rookie season with increased opportunity, primarily in the form of playing time. Yet, Sacramento’s Davion Mitchell played 629 fewer minutes than the 2076 minutes he saw in his rookie campaign. A new surrounding cast and coaching staff led to a new role for Mitchell to adapt to and grow comfortable in.

In the simplest terms, Davion Mitchell was the best defender on the team by a wide margin, but the Kings were a team that won games by being the best offense in the NBA. Shooting remains the far and away most crucial swing skill surrounding Mitchell’s continued growth and development as a player in this system.

Before we dive into his offense, let’s take a look at what makes Davion Mitchell already one of the best isolation guard defenders in the league. His understanding of his opponent’s tendencies through countless hours of film, phenomenal lateral quickness, and otherworldly deceleration makes for a deadly combination.

With Mitchell off the floor, Sacramento’s defensive rating was 115.4, per NBA Stats. With him in the game, that number fell to 111.8 which would have ranked sixth among teams in the regular season. Mitchell’s most common matchups throughout the year were some of the most creative and/or explosive guards; Stephen Curry, CJ McCollum, Shaedon Sharpe, Devin Booker, Russell Westbrook, and Jalen Green.

His isolation and point-of-attack defense can already be labeled as elite. The nickname “Off-Night” was not self-proclaimed, it was given to him because he earned it during his time with Baylor and it remains fitting with Sacramento.

While on-ball defense is his clear specialty, Mitchell found ways to disrupt teams off-ball as well. His 15 total charges this season were a team-high and ranked him 15th among all players. His defensive stops often led to promising open-court opportunities on the other end and his impact there translated to the postseason against one of the best point guards of all-time.

Yet, after playing 20+ minutes in four of the first five postseason games against Golden State, Mitchell only saw 11 minutes in game six and eight minutes in the pivotal game seven. Coach Brown and the rest of his staff decided to embrace their strength of spacing and shooting, even if that meant they would take a slight hit defensively.

Curry did go on to drop 50 points at Golden 1 Center in game seven and Coach Brown was later asked about the decision to not put Mitchell on Curry more often that night.

“Our best game of the series was game six and (Terence Davis) guarded Steph. We felt it gave Fox and Malik (Monk) a lot of room because TD was obviously a high-level shooter for us,” Coach Brown said. He went on to reiterate that he felt the game was not lost because Curry contributed 50 points on 20/38 from the field, but more so due to the 18 offensive rebounds they allowed and missing 11 free throws.

Providing Fox, Monk, and Domantas Sabonis with adequate spacing was essential to Sacramento’s success this season and shooting is far from Mitchell’s specialty at this moment. Mitchell shot 25.9 percent (7/27) from three in the postseason after knocking down 32.0 percent in the regular season on 2.5 attempts per game.

So, while the defense improved with him on the floor, it was evened out by the offensive shortcomings. With Mitchell on the floor, Sacramento’s offensive rating was 114.4 compared to 118.1 with him off. Mitchell isn’t a great playmaker for others or a standout player in dribble penetration, which leaves everything revolving around his three-point shot.

In the regular season, Mitchell converted a solid 34.6 percent (47/136) of his catch-and-shoot threes, compared to 26.6 percent (16/61) off-the-bounce. The most concerning number, however, was his 31.0 percent (45/145) conversion rate on what NBA Stats refers to as “wide-open” triples, meaning no defender was within six feet when the shot went up.

When your two stars are players who thrive with spacing around them and are not standout shooters themselves, keeping defenses honest off-ball becomes essential. There were plenty of times when opponents dared Mitchell to take those shots and seemed to be content living with the results.

Notice how willing teams were to help off of Davion and the apparent lack of urgency and concern when closing out on him. That’s exactly why he saw fewer minutes than last year. While Coach Brown was constantly looking for ways to improve defensively, Sacramento’s success was rooted in their league-best offense, and significantly harming your strengths in an attempt to improve on weaknesses would likely be a net negative.

203 of Mitchell’s 1,447 total minutes came alongside De’Aaron Fox. It’s hard to see that number significantly increasing without a much-improved jumper from either one of that backcourt pairing. In those 203 minutes, Sacramento tallied an underwhelming 107.7 offensive rating and a -6.2 net rating.

Interestingly, the Baylor alum converted 36.1 percent of his threes on the road, but just 28.0 percent at home. There are some reasons for optimism when it comes to his jumper, starting with Mitchell’s well-known relentless work ethic in pursuit of improvement. He also had six games this season with at least three made shots from beyond the arc.

The other side is that he did not convert a single three in 41 of his 80 games played in 2022-23. His long ball becoming more consistent would do wonders for his opportunity and the rest of his game. Teams would not be able to go under screens, and Mitchell could then capitalize on his 67 percent shooting within four feet, per Cleaning the Glass.

Flashes of space creation surfaced sporadically throughout the season and Mitchell did convert 43.1 percent (31/72) of his off-the-dribble twos.

Davion Mitchell’s entire offensive game, and his teammates, would be unlocked if he gained leaguewide respect as a three-point shooter and he clearly recognizes the importance of improving in that aspect.

During exit interviews, Mitchell was asked what he plans to work on this offseason. “Just being a consistent shooter. Keep working on that, keep having confidence in the shot,” Mitchell said. “Be able to become a better leader, run the second unit better, but also just a better shooter.”

Mitchell, Fox, Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes were the four players named to the team’s leadership council this year, and that itself speaks to the person Mitchell is. He brings his all every single night and is a truly talented defensive player for his size.

If he’s going to garner more opportunity to play extended minutes alongside De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and show off his defensive ability, he will need to clean up his three-point shooting. We will see how his well-known work ethic pays off as his third season in the NBA is on the horizon.

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55 Comments
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Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
June 12, 2023 8:15 am

I’m still hoping for a career arc of Kyle Lowry. Lowry could hit the side of a barn when he came into the league but found ways to remain on the floor with his defense and toughness. He eventually grew into a respectable shooter and very valuable player. If Davion could approach just 34% from the arc, he’s going to have a very good career as well.

RobHessing
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June 12, 2023 10:48 am
Reply to  Adamsite

I had/have him on a P-Bev career arc, which is a fine career.

TheGrantNapear
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June 12, 2023 2:30 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

He’s certainly been more Pat Bev than Lowry, hopefully he can end up falling somewhere in between. It still feels like he can take his offensive game up a notch.

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 5:36 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

?

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 5:35 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

With all due respect Rob, I appreciate your opinions, and I read your posts, I see little in common between Mitchell and Beverley. They are both amazing defenders, but that’s the end of the parallel for me, and I really hate the comparison. The Lowry comp seems obvious enough. Two vertically challenged PGs, both listed at 6′ flat, big, and strong (basically 200lbs each), who play with discipline and intensity, good distributors.
Pat Bev is long, wiry, (6’2″, 180lbs) and a complete freak of nature, with an unreal ability to react to the game around him. He’s physical, but not in the way the others are, not humble, not disciplined, and he barely passes the ball. He’s never contributed to winning basketball, like Lowry has.
Mitchell might be my favorite player to watch, and I’m responding viscerally, because, please god don’t let Davion follow in Patrick Beverley’s accursed shoes! All three struggle from deep, just like the other 7 billion of us on the planet, who aren’t worth comparing. Sorry man, I just HATE it!

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 6:36 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Also, Kyle Lowry is playing in another finals game as I write this. Where the hell is Beverely now? Does anyone care? The entirety of his career has basically been a sideshow.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 7:10 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Pat Beverly for Mitchell is a good trade.

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 7:29 pm

I wouldn’t trade MBIII for Pat Bev at this stage in their careers.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 7:41 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

MBIII for the win! Stay committed!

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 7:47 pm

Since you pissed me off, I took a good long look at their stats, and their pretty comparable. DAMN!
I’m still right. The only comp that matters is Davion plays winning ball, and in the playoffs. Beverley got fired by Lebron because he doesn’t.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 10:29 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

No intent to piss anyone off….. breathe deep.

Pat Beverly has an all around impact on a game. Davion….not so much.

Reality…..Pat Beverly is too old to trade Davion for at this point.

TheGrantNapear
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June 12, 2023 9:24 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Davion is nowhere near the offensive player that Lowry was in his prime. I hope Davion can become more than just a defensive minded player, but right now that’s what he is as his offensive game is limited.

BilboSwaggins
June 12, 2023 8:41 am

I also think it’s worth mentioning that Fox has credited Davion for alot of his improvement as well, explaining that he had to play against Davion every day in practice. I think that Davion matching up and pushing Fox to work hard to improve his game is a benefit that is not talked about enough. I feel like if he does manage to add an average 3pt shot he would be the perfect player in a Mike Brown system.

eddie41
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June 12, 2023 8:56 am
Reply to  BilboSwaggins

That was a noteworthy comment, for sure. Made me think of Jared Butler’s play at Baylor, the way he was stringing together multiple dribble moves.

jwalker1395
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June 12, 2023 10:49 am
Reply to  Brenden

“That’s why ya’ll see me do what I do out here because I’m not going against Davion…”

That’s a crazy quote.

Daydreamer
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June 12, 2023 11:12 am
Reply to  jwalker1395

When Davion was drafted and I saw him in summer league games, I thought that practices would have that effect on De’Aaron’s game. “Steel sharpens steel,” I wrote.

Last edited 1 year ago by Daydreamer
andy_sims
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June 12, 2023 12:58 pm
Reply to  Daydreamer

Starring Angela Lansbury.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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June 12, 2023 1:14 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Another blast from the past:
Pierce Bronsnan and Stephanie Zimbalist!
(Remington Steele and Laura Holt)

eddie41
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June 12, 2023 8:45 am

Rooting for Davion to make his threes. He’s already an elite defender. Already has game with the midrange pull-up, explosive drives, and good live dribble passing. Who is working with him on his shooting?

That three against GS in the corner was about as fluid as it gets. That was the game where Curry hockey checked him about 30 feet into the stands below the basket.

I really enjoyed some of those regular season games where he made the difference. Could have been a totally different season without him.

RikSmits
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June 12, 2023 9:46 am

I m still miffed about at Brown’s decisionmaking in game 7 because halfway the 3rd quarter everyone could see that Steph and the W’s had figured Davis out.

As to Davion, love his D, worried about his offense. As much as his shooting I’m a bit underwhelmed by his abilities as a floor general/distributor. I hope he’ll make a jump next season.

jwalker1395
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June 12, 2023 10:42 am
Reply to  RikSmits

It’s a bit frustrating because I don’t see any reason Davion can’t be a starting caliber PG, and yet he isn’t. He’s an elite defender, we know this. But offensively, he’s got a tight handle, he can create space on his own, he gets to the basket pretty well, and he’s an intelligent passer. It seems he SHOULD be a two-way stud, but he’s so woefully inconsistent.

If what we’ve seen is all Davion will ever be, that’s ok. He’s an excellent backup PG. But every now and again there are flashes where I just think “why can’t he do that all the time???”

eddie41
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June 12, 2023 12:14 pm
Reply to  jwalker1395

still don’t understand how the word “woeful” gets tossed around where it shouldn’t.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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June 12, 2023 1:15 pm
Reply to  eddie41

Maybe he’s a Wednesday’s child

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 5:39 pm
Reply to  jwalker1395

He’s never looked looked a starter, except when he has started.

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 6:01 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

Absolutely! Mike Brown earned the COTY, but we don’t need anyone here in Sac who is above criticism. The knock on him was always, “good coach, can’t win the big game.”

“Mitchell only saw 11 minutes in game six and eight minutes in the pivotal game seven.”

“and his impact there translated to the postseason against one of the best point guards of all-time.”

And then: “they would take a slight hit defensively. Curry did go on to drop 50 points at Golden 1 Center in game seven”

Yeah, I’d say that qualifies as “a slight hit.” They allowed Curry to take over the game. I’m not looking for his head at all, but Brown is accountable. He was badly out-coached, at least in that last game. It almost felt like Brown would rather lose to GS rather than LA, and, upon writing that, I realize I would also.
Was there some under-current, moving things from below the surface? Something sub-conscious?

AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 7:21 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

To win you have to score more than the other team.

Davion plays the entire game and Curry scores about 5 fewer points and the Kings score 20 less. Brown can do the math.

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 8:33 pm

wrong

AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 10:26 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

You go 4 vs 5 in a shootout with the Warriors?

You are the only believer in a Vivek system.

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 8:39 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

Also, the Alex Len idea was misguided, and badly executed. How do you just suddenly insert a guy, who didn’t play in the regular season, into the playoff rotation? “He was looking really good in practices!” REALLY?

Last edited 1 year ago by Hamlet1989
AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 10:33 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Bring back Walton!!!!!!

Hamlet1989
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June 14, 2023 8:30 am

That’s actually really funny

Hamlet1989
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June 14, 2023 8:39 am
Reply to  Hamlet1989

I’d love to hear Jerry Reynolds asked: Who is the worst coach in Kings history? Luke would definitely get my vote! I’ve only been watching since ’96, but I can’t think of a close 2nd. I wonder what Vivek was thinking watching Malone win with Denver. Malone absolutely gets my vote for worst firing in Sac history.

Hobby916
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June 12, 2023 11:05 am

I think Davion’s offensive improvement needs to come in the mid-range and finishing at the rim. He is so quick at getting by guys on the perimeter, that he needs the floater before he gets in to the tall dudes in the paint.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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June 12, 2023 12:47 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

I am in agreement here. Yes – it’s a three point League, but it needn’t be the only way to score. After all, De’Aaron is mostly a 2 point scorer as well.

Davion can move well with the ball and he seems able to create some space, but is very hesitant about driving the ball. Pulling up for “the worst shot” aka mid and long range 2s is better than only shooting 3s. Davion ain’t no Chris Paul – but they are similarly sized – and mastering the mid-range would go a long way towards making Mitchell’s offense relevant and relevancy means playing time.

The other guard defensive comparison (besides Kyle Lowry and Patrick Beverly) is last season’s DPoY, Marcus Smart. That guy is an absolute load and he has an impressive post up game along with his 3 point shooting, so I can’t see Davion mimicking that – but on Defense, I see similarities in Off Night and Smart’s approaches. Maybe Davion is a Patrick Smart mash up.

Mostly, for Davion, I admire his work ethic, his on court demeanor and his intensity – He’s a guy you just shouldn’t bet against. There has been many fan proposed pre-Summer trades which include Davion, and just this week there is Twitter talk about how the Phoenix Suns have him on their Persons of Interest with the seeming departure of Chris Paul. I would like to see Davion remain a King – He is a guy that I expect to continue to add to his game and it would be great to see him be that improved player here in Sacramento.

Last edited 1 year ago by UpgradedToQuestionable
Maximus
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June 12, 2023 4:22 pm

Man it is just tough for Davion that the current system does not fit him well. There are things that he can do well and there are things that he is absolutely terrible at.

He is probably one of the worst rebounders in the league. Considering that the Kings have inadequate rebounding forwards and other guards are below average rebounders, it would be tough to play Mitchell more than what he did.

Mitchell also has one of the worst free throw rate in the league. He shoots ok and made some shooting improvement from last year but he just can’t draw fouls.

I had hoped that he would be better PG from last year. But it seems that he does not fit the DHO system. His corner 3pt shot is below average so his off ball efficiency is not good. He can’t be a floor spacer next to Domas or Fox. His on ball efficiency also suffers a little bit; less drives, less shots, shots made less, less FTA, passes not finding the right marks and more TOVs.

It is going to be his 3rd year and they have to make a decision what to do with his future. It might be best for Davion Mitchell to be traded to a different team. If he is not traded, the list of improvement is very long.

Hobby916
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June 12, 2023 6:27 pm
Reply to  Maximus

Good player, good defender, doesn’t fit the system well…at least not during last season. He might be of great value for some other team, so hopefully MM is open to making changes if a team comes calling with a good offer.

He is fine, but if used to upgrade the roster then that would be a positive.

Last edited 1 year ago by Josh Hobson
Maximus
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June 12, 2023 9:21 pm
Reply to  Hobby916

I would not say he is a good player yet. I am not sure how coach Brown can utilize him more. He does not have a single offensive skill that mess well with the team. Monk can attack the basket and is a wonderful pocket passer. Huerter pairs well with Sabonis’ DHO and is a good floor spacer. Murray is the best floor spacer on this team. Barnes is a veteran that knows how to exploit the defensive gaps. Even Lyles is a good floor spacer and when Lyles attacks the basket, he actually makes really good passes.

As a defender, Mitchell is not that good off the ball. Besides, the lack of defensive rebounding is what reduces his defensive versatility.

He probably has to be a lead guard or plays major minutes per game to realize his potential. Not sure if there is a team out there that has a need for him. Of course the Suns want him but they don’t have anything in return. Maybe the Hornets for Kelly Oubre Jr in a sign and trade.

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 6:30 pm

They should be exploring options to open a spot in the starting line-up for Mitchell. I’d SHOP KEVIN HUERTER, start Monk at the two, he earned his chance. Then hope Mitchell shows out with increased PT. Huerter is a valuable trade chip, and Sac NEEDS to be better defensively! Sort out how to proceed with the future back-court next year, or at the deadline, since both Davion, and Monk will both be up for new contracts. Mitchell compensates for Malik’s defensive shortcomings, and Monk brings the scoring. Huerter could bring a nice asset in return, especially paired with the #24. The #24 last season (David Roddy) cost Memphis $2,588,640. That’s close to $3 mil. in cap space (the cap is increasing) the Kings could add to FA.

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 7:17 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

How about Holmes, Huerter, and #24, for Kristaps Porzingis? That’s almost $30 million in ’23-’24, and over $70 million in total salary savings over the next three seasons, versus a $36 million one year rental for KP’s contract, after he opts-in?

TheGrantNapear
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June 12, 2023 9:28 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Are you related to Davion? Goodness you’re much higher than him than anyone else on this board it would seem. He’s been an average, rotational player thus far in his career and you’re acting like he’s an all star.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 10:35 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

It’s creative writing. Not based on any fact or logic. A view into an alternate reality.

Hamlet1989
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June 13, 2023 5:11 pm

Great compliment! And thanks for noticing that I’ve been practicing my creative writing skill here. I’m 50 now, and I’ll be retiring from the gov’t this year. I’d love to spend more time writing, and I’ve had this somewhat morbid fascination with the Kings since the heyday, so…
As for logic, it doesn’t garner much around here, You certainly wouldn’t recognize it, at least not in a public forum. Isn’t the internet great! You can whomever you want to be, say what you want, and never accountable to anyone. And I really do feel like I live in a bit of an “alternate reality.” Consider me the average idiot walking down the street, and half of America is even stupider than that!

AnybodyButBagley
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June 13, 2023 8:55 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Kind of chippy?

Maybe you are stressed?

Hamlet1989
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June 13, 2023 5:32 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Davion is a diamond, and y’all wanna trade him for a lump of coal. “Average rotational player” is a bit difficult to define. In ways he has been below average. Defensively, the article above makes him sound like a top-ten player.
He’s definitely got things to work on. I like him because the things he does well aren’t things guys just pick-up. As surely as he’ll never do what Fox does, the inverse is true. Fox just needs to be passable on defense.

Hamlet1989
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June 13, 2023 5:41 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Mitchell will learn to be more patient around the basket, maybe he’ll learn to shoot with his left. His handle can improve, his long-ball pct. will get better, and he may even add a floater. His unique skills are such that they really cannot be taught, and his intangibles are invaluable. I don’t like to hear him compared with guys who are all about themselves, and don’t possess skills that will mesh within a championship system. Very illogical, I know.

Last edited 1 year ago by Hamlet1989
AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 10:34 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

What happened to Fox?

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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Nostradumbass 18
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June 12, 2023 8:04 pm

And with that, the 2022-23 NBA season is a wrap. Congrats to Denver/Michael Malone for getting a championship.

UpgradedToQuestionable
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June 13, 2023 8:37 am
Reply to  Klam

Big Gratz to Michael Malone as well. I feel a little bad for Jordi Fernandez who left Nuggets to join Mike Brown’s Kings – so now he can help bring the Larry O’Brien to Sacramento

Hamlet1989
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June 12, 2023 8:22 pm

“Typically, second-year players are able to build on their rookie season with increased opportunity.”
Davion struggled through a situation induced sophomore slump. It’s hardly A-typical, it’s all too common. If he continues to struggle under their current system, get a new system.

TheGrantNapear
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June 12, 2023 9:30 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

So implement a whole new system to accomodate Davion?
Don’t give the man pictured any of your amazing ideas.

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AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 10:37 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

4 vs 5 with Davion as the number one scoring option. Going deep into the next decade as the greatest team ever.

AnybodyButBagley
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June 12, 2023 10:36 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Forget Sabonis and Fox. All in on Davion. Time for a rebuild.

Milkman
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June 12, 2023 11:59 pm

Besides 3pt shooting, his summer homework assignment is to develop that floater to go along with his version of the killer cross.

macdoogs
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June 13, 2023 12:15 pm

Davion, to me, would need to be a lead guard to truly flourish as a player imo. There were the games that fox missed his rookie season where you saw alot of his potential as a starting pg. That was pre Mike Brown and Domas though. The DHO system I don’t think is a system he thrives in. He’s obviously never beating out fox to be the starting pg here and that severely limits his upside with us. His tenacity on D is fun to watch, as well as his quickness when he blows by a defender either pulling up or driving to the basket.

I think a trade with Houston would be best case scenario for him as a back court mate with Jalen Green to balance out his lack of defense but great offense. They have KPJ, which I think would be a good swap as our back up pg. He can be a bit erratic but would do wonders for our 2nd unit with his blend of scoring and play making.

I know nothing though, just spit balling.

I love me some Off Night and I do think he has the work ethic to make it work in sac. Lock him in the gym with coach loukes like fox did this past off season and see where he is in year 3, and year 2 in Coach Browns system.

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