NBA Draft Scouting Report: Donovan Mitchell's Strengths, Weaknesses and Comparison


As we transition from the college basketball season to NBA Draft season I’ll be breaking down the scouting reports for various players across the country who are expected to be in the NBA Draft. We’ll focus on seniors and those with agents to start. If there is someone specific you want on here, please let me know @barstoolreags. All videos are courtesy of Synergy and the stats will come from Synergy and KenPom. 

Donovan Mitchell – Louisville

6’3”, 210 lbs, 20 years old

Projected: No. 20 (DraftExpress) No. 31 (

Comparison: Avery Bradley

Background: Mitchell made the jump that everyone expected him to, though it did take some time to get him going this past season. Mitchell showed signs of potential stardom as a freshman, with everyone pegging him as ‘a breakout star’ heading into the 2016-17 season. Mitchell did just that. He made a legit case to be ACC Player of the Year as he put up 15.6/4.9 for Louisville while shooting 35% from three. That was the biggest thing for me. He upped his 3-point shooting percentage from 25% on just 2 attempts per game to 35% on 6 attempts. He became a well-rounded player instead of relying on just his athleticism to score.

Strengths: Look, you have to start with the obvious strength here for Mitchell. He’s uber-athletic and has the ability to guard both guard spots in the NBA. He’s not a point guard, but has enough capability to handle the ball if a team absolutely needs him to. He’s made to play off the ball on offense, more importantly getting out in transition. You want to get Mitchell out in open space and let him finish at the rim as much as possible. It’s hard to look at transition numbers for Louisville players simply on how they play. But, Mitchell did score .908 points per possession while out in transition last season. Here are two examples showing both aspects to Mitchell’s game while in transition. First is a beautiful stepback three against Michigan while the second is finishing an alley-oop. In the step back, the one thing I really like is how under control Mitchell is this whole play. He’s able to create space with a hard jab before going with the step back cross. If he is consistent with that move in the pros, he’s going to be wildly successful. The second play is what we’ve gotten to know Mitchell as. A supreme athlete who can jump out of the gym and over most other guards.

File this under a strength for now and the potential to be a strength in the pros. Mitchell graded out as an excellent spot up shooter per Synergy. Mitchell had 151 possessions of spot up shooting in which he scored 1.126 points per possession, which was good for the 86th percentile nationally. It was by far his most common offensive set as transition was the next highest at 119 possessions. He does have decent range on his 3-point attempts but what he does well is get a ton of arc on his shot and is consistent with his jump. He’s straight up and down and gets his feet set when he’s in a spot up shooting situation. He rarely falls to the left or right when landing, which is something to watch for someone considered inconsistent with their jumper.

Where Mitchell will thrive though is the defensive side of the ball. He led the ACC in steals (2.1/game) last year and has the capability to defend both guard positions despite being 6’3″. Per Synergy he graded out as an excellent defender, ranking in the 93rd percentile nationally. Mitchell also ranked 38th in the country with a 3.7 steal percentage per KenPom. He does have quick hands and does a great job of anticipating moves. It’s why I think his defense will translate as opposed to being just a ‘Louisville system’ type player, where some numbers can be a little inflated on the defensive side of the ball. When you go back and watch him in pick-and-roll sets, the one thing I noticed is his ability to avoid getting caught with the screen. With as much high ball screens as we see in the NBA, Mitchell’s ability to stick with his man and avoid the hard hedge is a huge benefit. The first video below shows that while the second video shows his quick hands.


Weaknesses: The first weakness comes with his size. He’s one of those guys who has the size of a point guard with the game of a wing. He’s never going to be a point guard on a consistent basis as that’s just not his game. However, being 6’3″ he’ll have to guard guys with a three-four inch height advantage on him. What happens when his athleticism takes a hit? We don’t see it as much in college, but he’s not a great post defender. Will an NBA wing at 6’6″ or 6’7″ take advantage of that next year? The other part of his game you’d like to see improve is his shot selection. He gets complacent at times and falls in love with the long twos. The fact is there’s not a ton of value in that shot. You need to either attack the rim (get a foul) or shoot the three. He got better with that during his sophomore year, but again, you want to see him be more consistent and hope it’s not just a one year development.

Projection/Draft Stock: Despite his lack of size, I do really like Mitchell’s game. We’ve seen teams go with a smaller backcourt as long as they have rim protection, which is where you can see the Bradley comparison. Both are similar in size, excellent defenders and are made to play off the ball. He’ll test off the charts heading into the draft, so don’t be surprised to see him jump up the draft boards. He’s still young enough that a team can reach for him and I do believe he’ll go top-20. Like I said, his defense will translate right away for him, making him valuable to teams, the question is just what offense comes with him next year. If he’s the guy who shoots 35% from three while getting up over six shots a game, he’ll be just fine. He needs to continue to attack the rim off the bounce and take care of the ball. He was excellent in not turning it over at just 1.5/game, especially in Louisville’s offensive system.