Even among the best defenders in the NBA, not many — if any — can catch Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell, two of the Western Conference’s top scorers, with about 35 percent of shots across consecutive games.
Less so, he’ll have the absolute cheek to tell Lillard he “knows his moves” and then stop him from shooting a 0-for-9 from behind the arc.
Incredibly, Davion Mitchell is a rookie who has yet to hit double digits in terms of appearances in his NBA career, but the entire league is already sitting back and taking note of his closed-back defensive capabilities.
The ninth pick in this summer’s draft is Naismith’s Defensive Player of the Year and 12th Defensive Player of the Year, and it’s safe to say his college skill set has already translated to the pros.
Which is why he has already chosen a wonderful and highly respected nickname: “Off Night”.
The Sacramento Kings seem to have taken a gem with their latest lottery pick, and the youngster’s next challenge comes in this week’s Sky Sports NBA game this week when he faces the offensive Swiss Army knife of Luka Doncic.
Mitchell has already stopped some of the game’s top scorers, but playing against Luka will likely provide the toughest test yet with the Slovenian’s impressive playing abilities as well as his ability to score from across the land.
But Luca will stop his work to work his magic against Mitchell.
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell (unrelated) said, “(Davion) is as advertised. He’s physical, he’s fast, he does a lot of strong things defensively that bothered not just myself but a lot of us. He set the tone defensively.”
Doing this as a newbie to the league is okay. He carried the jazz primary scorer to 2 for 6 in the headshots against him and was also a huge factor in his namesake coughing up his turnover five times.
The stats with Lillard are more telling, especially considering that he hasn’t hit a triple pointer in nine attempts, this was the turmoil of the youngster. The Portland Trail Blazers star set the Kings on fire last season.
But Mitchell is a very fast drive, and he has such quick hands that he can make it difficult for anyone. He has a confident vibe when he talks.
He told reporters he spoke to Lillard in the summer league, which the Kings went on to win, and gave him a glimpse of how confident he is in his own abilities.
The 23-year-old said: “I’ve been watching it ever since – in fact, the whole time I’ve been in the tournament, I remember watching Damien Lillard clips all the time.
“I even spoke to him after the (pre-season) game. I was like, ‘I kind of know your moves.'” “The reconnaissance report means nothing,” he said.
“To protect a guy like that, he can shoot from anywhere, he can go downhill and he can also play team ball, it’s kind of hard to stop him, so I try to get out there and slow him down, try and throw some things he’s never seen before.”
Some of his teammates already think he’s the best defender on the ball in the NBA, which is a great claim at this nascent stage of Mitchell’s NBA career — but you can see why they think so.
“Guys who guard them, it’s almost impossible to guard any of these talented players, especially your first time in the league,” coach Luke Walton said after the game against the Jazz, which ended in the Kings losing 110-101.
Against Doncic, he faced a different proposition and the Dallas Mavericks transitioning to an entirely new style of play after Jason Kidd replaced Rick Carlisle as head coach.
Sacramento will try to maintain its three-way winning streak when the Kings face Dallas tonight, and the match between them could be a deciding factor in how it turns out.
Watch the match live on Sky Sports Arena, Sky Sports Channel on Youtube Or livestream on our website on Sunday nights from 7.30pm.