There are not many point guards in the upcoming NBA draft that are considered franchise-caliber players. However, the New York Knicks might do whatever it takes to land Davion Mitchell out of Baylor in just a few months.
Mitchell, who has a star-studded resume, including a National Championship win over the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs, would bring essential experience in big moments to New York, a place where the shivering bones of MSG rattle even bonafide NBA stars.
With the Knicks sitting pretty at 19 and 21 in the first round of the draft, they may pair the selections together and move up. Mock drafts will have Mitchell going anywhere from the 5-10 range, and then Knicks could part ways with assets to ensure they land a player of his caliber. Not only is he an offensive producer, but he is one of the best defensive players in this draft and would be an instant impact player for a Tom Thibodeau-lead team.
Last season, Mitchell averaged 14.0 points, 5.5 assists, and shot .511 from the field. He also connected on .447 of his shots from three, averaging 4.7 attempts per game.
Before his most recent campaign, Mitchell wasnâ€™t seen as an elite scorer, but he proved that his shooting progresses enough to be valued as a high-profile prospect.
What does Davion offer as a defender?
Some of the factors that make him a defensive maestro are a relentless motor, adequate frame at 205-pounds, and a great pick and roll defender. His physicality stands out on the floor, making contact and not drawing too many fouls. He is an instant lockdown defender, which offers significant value as a rookie in the NBA, especially under Thibodeau. He wouldnâ€™t require much development in that category, offering Thibs a plug-and-play option without hesitation.
If Mitchell could develop into an elite perimeter defender, all that is left is to develop his shooting further and ability to run the offense efficiently. One of his athletic strengths is his speed; he is considered one of the fastest guards in the draft.
A weakness worth considering is his free-throw shooting, as he connected on 65.2% last year with Baylor, an inefficient number that will need to increase at the next level. Of course, many shooters have struggled in that category at the collegiate level and become adequate shooters from the line.
Ultimately, if the Knicks see enough offensive potential in Mitchell, they can guarantee him as a solid defender right off the bat, which should be enough to garner significant attention from the front office.
The Knicks could bring back Rose and pair him with Mitchell:
That leads me to my next point, the retention of Derrick Rose. After acquiring Rose from the Detroit Pistons midseason, the veteran point guard averaged nearly 15 points, 4.2 assists, and shot a career-high .411 from range. He was one of the only reasons the Knicks pushed on to a postseason appearance and remained competitive at times against Atlanta Hawks.
At 32 years old, Rose is looking for a new deal, and pairing him with a young point guard he can work with might be a best-case scenario rather than overspending in free agency for an established player.
Of course, it would represent a risk since options like Chris Paul, and more will likely be available on the market. However, if the Knicks retained Rose on a two-year, $25 million deal (or similar), they would have plenty of money left over to sign complementary pieces and add a young PG like Mitchell in the draft.
The idea of developing Mitchell behind Rose could be a perfect combination. Expecting the soon-to-be 33-year-old PG to play 30+ minutes per game on an everyday basis is overly optimistic, so having a strong defensive point guard behind him could pay off in dividends (but more potential, thank Frank Ntilikina). Rose could help him develop as a shooter and improve his court vision, all the while contributing heavily toward a hopeful playoff appearance next season.
What do you think of this idea? Comment below!