Tony Mitchell entered his sophomore year at North Texas as the No. 1 mid-major draft prospect to watch. But after averaging a monster line of 14.7 points, 10.3 boards and three blocks on 56.7 percent shooting and nearly 44 percent from three as a freshman, Mitchell's numbers took severe hits across the board.
His shooting percentages plummeted while his scoring and rebounding both fell off—not to mention his team finished with a 7-13 record in a lousy Sun Belt West.
Still, Mitchell's elite physical tools are appealing to NBA coaches whether he's got the skill set to go with it or not. He'll be considered one of the higher-risk, higher-reward prospects on draft day.
Tony Mitchell might be the most explosive pound-for-pound athlete in the entire field. At 6'9'', 236 pounds, he's got a strong upper body with cut, toned arms.
Mitchell also has a ridiculous 7'2.5'' wingspan and a 38'' max vertical leap. When you mix those numbers together you get the second-highest max vertical reach of anyone at the combine, and fifth highest in the field.
With a max vertical reach of 12'0.5'', Mitchell can catch lobs nearly two feet above the rim.
Watch him get off the ground, showing off his 33.5'' no-step vertical:
Mitchell's core offensive strength centers around his ability to finish at the rim. He can finish above the cylinder with force or below it using angles. He's a high-percentage option from the baseline to foul line.
With room in front of him, Mitchell has the the explosiveness and springs to finish over the top of defenders:
But he's not just strictly a power athlete looking to shatter the glass with every finish. Mitchell has great body control, never relying too heavily on his strength to get the job done.
Watch Mitchell avoid the contest, adjust mid-air and finish around traffic instead of trying to throw down over it:
He makes difficult finishes and angles look absolutely effortless.
Mitchell's ability to play above the rim allows him to excel in areas that don't require skill. If there's a 50-50 ball around the basket, you'd be smart to put your money on Mitchell coming down with it. It's what has him averaging over eight boards in back-to-back years. It contributes to second-chance opportunities, and it also allows him to protect the rim in a way that most forwards can't.
Mitchell averaged three blocks as a freshman and 2.7 as a sophomore—impressive numbers for a non-center. You can attribute it to his length, athleticism and springs, as most of his rejections come as a weak-side or off-ball defender.
He's what you'd call a roaming rim protector, given he's not a center like Roy Hibbert or Tyson Chandler—guys who spend most of their time within five feet from the hoop.
Mitchell is that guy who comes flying out of nowhere to send a shot in a different direction.
As a sophomore, Mitchell looked more like a tweener than a 3, 4 or a combo forward. He doesn't have much of a refined post game, nor does he have the skill set to operate on the perimeter.
Mitchell struggles to create his own shot, particularly in the half court. If I'm a general manager, I'm immediately reminded of Derrick Williams from Arizona, who went No. 2 overall but has struggled to find a position at the NBA level.
Mitchell needs to become a reliable spot-up shooter (30 percent from three as a sophomore), especially without an off-the-dribble game. If he's not a threat in catch-and-shoot situations, Mitchell's scoring opportunities will be limited to just finishing at the rim.
He'll either need to improve his shooting consistency or his ability to create off the dribble, which might allow him to get to the line more than five times per game (where he only shot 67.5 percent).
Draft Breakdown and NBA Outlook
Mitchell is going to get looks from probably 20 out of the 27 teams picking in Round 1. The NBA guys love size, length and athleticism, and Mitchell has a potent combination of all three.
It's up for debate whether Mitchell was held back by his teammates and system at North Texas. It was certainly bizarre to see such a drop-off in production.
But it seems that Mitchell was given a clean slate once the season ended and the pre-draft process began. The eye test alone says he's worth a roster spot. And without much defense going on in these workouts, Mitchell's weaknesses could go undetected.
It's possible that his elite athleticism and physical gifts will allow a team to ignore his limited skill set. Anywhere outside the lottery seems like a possibility.
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