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2017 NBA Draft: Donovan Mitchell might be that player teams regret passing on

But let’s wait three or four years to make a definitive call on it.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Michigan v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There’s generally two main schools of thought for the Detroit Pistons’ 2017 NBA Draft draft pick strategy.

The first is that Detroit should draft the talented but ultimately safe player who fits a specific need. Being that Detroit can’t hit the broadside of a barn most games, you would think they’d lean to the Luke Kennard or Justin Jackson route, as both players are quality shooters (more on Justin another day).

The second main school of thought is that Detroit should draft the highest upside player available on the board, fit or position be damned. Viable arguments can be made for players such as Frank Ntilikina, Terrance Ferguson, Zach Collins, OG Anunoby, Jarrett Allen, Harry Giles, and even Justin Patton.

Enter 6’3 guard Donovan Mitchell with his 6’10 wingspan (Mitchell is ranked number 15 on Chad Ford’s Big Board as of a few days ago). Mitchell spent two seasons at Louisville, almost blowing up during his sophomore season. That’s the concern though, while Mitchell had a pretty decent season (15.6 points per game, 35 percent from deep) it’s as if people haven’t quite seen enough of him (or maybe they have, as he shot 40.8 percent from the field), because on one hand they are excited about his potential on both sides of the ball, however on the other hand they shrug and say he’s 6’3 (which is true) and isn’t a prototypical point guard and too small for a shooting guard (position-less NBA, anyone?). It’s simply a given, and normal, that there’s tons of questions about any of the players outside the top-tier bubble (seven or eight players in the top-tier bubble this year).

What the Pistons need to do (easier said than done) is put their finger on which one of those likely 8-15 players — drafted after the mostly already settled top-tier bubble — are going to be the next Jrue Holiday or Jeff Teague type talents, both drafted in 2009 and much later than several so called more “sure things” like Austin Daye (*not in league), Earl Clark (*), Tyler Hansbrough (*), Terrance Williams (*) and Brandon Jennings.

Here’s a visual of the 2009 NBA Draft.

I’m not even going to talk about the biggest 2009 Draft mistakes such as Hasheem Thabeet going number two or Jonny Flynn at number six. Those type of early lottery miscues could happen this draft too, however it’s more likely that they start occurring a lot closer to the end of the lottery (let’s check back in three years, cool?).

So can the Pistons avoid settling for a Clark or a Williams and instead get a Holiday, Teague or even Lawson (once upon a time) type of talent? Again, it’s easier said than done. That’s not to say picking a Kennard or a Justin Jackson in any way signifies a potential poor pick, but there’s a decent chance they just might not be much in the NBA, a la a Gerald Henderson or a Jordan Hill, for example.


For further reference of certain players drafted pretty close to where the Pistons will draft next month (and surely I’m missing many good examples):

2017 MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall (2011), as was Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013). Speaking of 2013, some teams sure did fancy point guards, taking Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams ahead of the tantalizing but raw Greek Freak. These days, Trey and Michael are third-string point guards, while in a few short years the Greek Freak will be a perennial MVP candidate.

Rajon Rondo was the 21st selection in 2006 and David West went 18th in 2003. In 2010, Eric Bledsoe and Avery Bradley were 18th and 19th respectively, drafted lower than Cole Aldrich (11th), Xavier Henry (12th) and Ed Davis (13th) just to name a few. I really could go on and on with past draft mistakes, but I want you all to make it down to the Donovan Mitchell video part at least. But wait just a second — a fun fact is that a couple of undrafted players in 2010 are now Detroit Pistons you may have heard of: Boban Marjanovic and Ish Smith. Talent is everywhere.

All in all, there’s immense talent to be had and I hope the Pistons brass takes long looks at as many players as they can for that number 12 selection. Because why can’t Detroit be the team that drafts the next Kawhi Leonard or Greek Freak type talent? At this stage, I’ll even settle for a Jrue Holiday type too.


Back to Donovan Mitchell. Here’s a helpful piece on Mitchell’s offense that sheds some light perhaps:

Mitchell’s jumper is still improving, so his shooting numbers aren’t as impressive as one might hope for a lottery-level talent. When working off the dribble from a pick-and-roll scenario (and using the screen), Mitchell shot just 35 percent (14-of-40). He has great balance on his pull up jump shots, the mechanics are solid and his release is high. His main issue — not only on pick-and-roll situations — is his shot selection wandered at times, which created more difficult, and unnecessary, shots.

So is it time for some video dessert?

Remember that 6’10 wingspan I mentioned? Yes, Mitchell (number 45) does indeed have length for days. As a shifty 6’3 guard with quickly improving ball handling skills, his length and his wherewithal to use it will pay dividends at the NBA level.

Mitchell’s jump shooting form seems consistent. Good follow through. Compact. Rhythm shooter (who isn’t?). One thing I’ve noticed in watching Mitchell is his readiness off the ball. When he receives the ball he’s always in a solid triple threat position, where a player is equally a threat to pass, dribble or shoot the ball. He just needs to, as some players are prone to do occasionally, avoid leaning back when he shoots.

Quick but controlled play here:

Again, that 6’10 wingspan causes trouble for opponents in one way or another. Overall, I like Mitchell’s potential on both sides of the ball. Future starter in this league? Avery Bradley type impact? What do you think?


For previous DBB 2017 NBA Draft mini-breakdowns of players, here they are:

A few years away from impact Terrance Ferguson (here), the Andre Drummond replacement Zach Collins (here), another modern day center candidate John Collins (here), sweet shooter and scorer Luke Kennard (here), Pistons’ pipe dream Dennis Smith Jr. (here), and the perfect player to draft if Detroit had a second round pick Sindarius Thornwell (here).