Even among the best defensemen in the NBA, few – if any – could contain Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell, two of the Western Conference’s top scorers, at around 35% from shots in consecutive games.
Even less, he would have the nerve to tell Lillard he “knows his moves” and then kick him out of the 0-for-9 shot beyond 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 whole league is already sitting down and taking note of his lockdown defensive abilities.
The ninth pick in this summer’s draft is reigning Defensive Player of the Year Naismith and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and it’s safe to say his college skills have already translated into the pros.
This is also why he already took the very cool and respectable nickname: “Off Night”.
The Sacramento Kings appear to have secured a gem with their latest lottery pick and the next challenge for the youngster comes in the Sky Sports NBA live broadcast game on Sunday, when he faces offensive Swiss Army Knife Luka Doncic.
Mitchell has stopped some of the game’s top scorers before, but playing against Luka is likely to be the toughest test yet with the Slovenian’s exceptional playing skills as well as his ability to score from anywhere.
Luka will however have his work cut out for him to work his magic against Mitchell.
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell (no relationship) said, “(Davion) is as advertised. He’s physical, he’s quick, he does a lot of solid things defensively that have unsettled not only myself but a lot of people. between us. He set the tone defensively. “
To do that as a freshman rookie in the league is something. He kept the Jazz’s main scorer 2 for 6 on shots directly against him and was also a big factor in his namesake spitting out five turnovers.
The stats with Lillard are even more striking, especially since he hasn’t scored three points in nine attempts, such was the disruption the youngster caused. And the Portland Trail Blazers star completely set the Kings on fire last season.
But Mitchell is such a fast mover, and has such quick hands that he can make it difficult for anyone. And he looks confident when he speaks.
He told reporters he spoke to Lillard during the Summer League, which the Kings won, and gave him a sense of his confidence in his own abilities.
The 23-year-old said: “I’ve been watching him ever since – in fact the whole time I was in the tournament I remember watching Damian Lillard clips the whole time.
“I even spoke to him after the game (preseason). I was like, ‘I kind of know your moves. “He was like, ‘The tracing report doesn’t mean anything.’
“To keep a guy like that, who can shoot from anywhere, can go down an incline and can also play team ball, it’s a little hard to stop him, so I try to go there down and slow him down, try to throw things at him he’s never seen before. “
Some of his teammates already think he’s the best defenseman in the NBA, which is a remarkable claim at this nascent stage of Mitchell’s NBA career – but you can see why they think so.
“The guys he keeps, it’s almost impossible to keep one of these most talented players, especially your first time in the league,” coach Luke Walton said after the game against Jazz, which was ended in a 110-101 loss for the Kings.
Against Doncic, he’s up against a different proposition and a Dallas Mavericks side shifting to a whole new style of play after Jason Kidd replaced Rick Carlisle as head coach.
Sacramento will look to maintain their three-game winning streak on the road when the Kings face Dallas tonight, and the game between them may well be a deciding factor in the result.
Watch the game live on Sky Sports Arena on Sky Sports YouTube Channel or by streaming on our site on Sunday evening from 7:30 p.m.