Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Season Preview: Davion Mitchell
Sep 29, 2023, 8:44 AM
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Davion Mitchell, the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, is heading into his third NBA season with the Sacramento Kings.
With training camp rapidly approaching, this is the first time the Baylor alum will have the same coach as the year prior.
Just 17 games into his rookie season, head coach Luke Walton was fired, and Alvin Gentry stepped in. Last offseason, Mike Brown was hired, and the roster was significantly altered. Kevin Huerter had been acquired via trade, Keegan Murray was drafted, and Malik Monk signed in free agency. The improved spacing proved crucial to unlocking their All-Star tandem of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.
However, Mitchell’s minutes dipped from 27.7 per game in his rookie season to 18.1. In 80 games, he averaged 5.6 points, 2.3 assists, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.6 steals on 45.5 percent from the field and 32.0 percent from three. Often, Mitchell would play in the minutes that Fox rested. He’s a twitchy, explosive athlete who excels on the defensive end of the floor.
There’s a reason they call him “Off-Night.” Mitchell earned the nickname from a coach at Baylor who claimed everyone he guarded would have an off-night. His lateral quickness, strength, deceleration, and discipline make him among the best isolation guard defenders in the NBA.
“I go against [Davion Mitchell] every day in practice,” Fox said during the postseason. “That’s why ya’ll see me do what I do out here because I’m not going against Davion out here.”
He had impressive moments against the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry. Nobody will stop an all-time great like Curry, but great defenders like Mitchell make them work for every bucket. He has an admirable and consistent desire and will to win at all costs. He’s always in the gym. The coaching staff joked early into his rookie year that they may need to lock him out sometimes. Kevin Huerter put it well last season.
“Davion [Mitchell] picks people up full-court at 8 a.m. on a Saturday,” Huerter said.
He certainly seems to believe in himself and commit the time needed. That drive and work ethic give plenty of reason for hope that Mitchell can continue adding to his game.
Mitchell’s only defensive weakness is something entirely out of his control. Standing at 6’0″, according to NBA.com, restricts him from being positionally versatile. When dealing with a height disadvantage, some opponents can shoot over or drive through him. Davion Mitchell’s relentless pursuit on defense allows him to make an impact in the right matchups.
Another drawback is rebounding. He averaged 2.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. It’s not devastating for a point guard but it’s worth noting.
Another concern about Mitchell is his three-point shot. The same question marks coming out of Baylor, where his senior year from three was significantly better than his previous, are present. Last season, Mitchell shot 32 percent from three on 2.5 attempts per game. That number isn’t especially concerning, but consider that 49 percent of his total field goal attempts were from three, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Mitchell’s role within Sacramento’s offense last season was not to break his defender down off the dribble. It was to keep the ball and player movement flowing, hit open threes when available, and cut with a purpose.
Considering his aforementioned defensive impact, it’s not surprising that when Davion Mitchell converted his looks from beyond the arc, the Kings found success. Mitchell made 35.1 percent of his threes in wins compared to 27.7 percent in losses. Sacramento went 11-4 in games he made multiple triples.
How Davion Mitchell fits into the 2023-24 Sacramento Kings
The Kings hope to be better defensively this season, primarily by improving their physicality. Davion Mitchell fits that profile but still has questions remaining on the defensive end. The opportunity given to “Off-Night” this season depends on his three-point rate.
If his shot has not improved, Mitchell may be in a similar role to last season, as a rotational piece on one of the better teams in the Western Conference.
His defensive ability will always prove useful for stretches. If Kyrie Irving gets the best of Fox, Mitchell is there. Same for Jamal Murray, Ja Morant, Fred VanVleet, Devin Booker, and others. His energy is infectious to his teammates, and his competitive nature is applauded in locker rooms.
It all comes down to the shooting.
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule
- Sunday, October 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 PM PST (Preseason Opener)
- Wednesday, October 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7 PM PST (in Anaheim, CA)
- Sunday, October 15th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
- Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST
Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule
- Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
- Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM (Season Opener)
- Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM (Home Opener)