Orlando Magic 2021 NBA Draft Preview: Davion Mitchell a tough fit for Magic

With both the fifth and eighth picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic have the opportunity to add two cornerstones to its young roster. This draft has a plethora of tempting candidates available in this range of the draft.

It has been interesting to read some of these mock drafts and scouting reports. Almost every analyst has the Magic taking Scottie Barnes or Jonathan Kuminga with the fifth pick (with a touch of variance of late).

But when the mock drafts get to selection 8, it becomes clear the analysts have no consensus whatsoever of who the team should take.

Recently, the Ringer mocked that the Magic would take Davion Mitchell with the 8th pick.

Davion Mitchell launched up draft boards after his run to the NCAA Tournament title. But his low upside and awkward fit with the Orlando Magic’s roster makes him a tough pick.

The appeal of a player like Mitchell is his toughness and experience. He was a four-year starter and Baylor and stepped up even more in the team’s run to the national championoship in the NCAA Tournament. The play and leadership he displayed in that run put him on NBA radars.

Although he is of no relation to Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, Davion Mitchell plays a bit like him. The Baylor point guard is quick, has a tight handle, intense defensive energy, and is a strong finisher at the rim.

Mitchell’s specialty has always been defense, and last year he won the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award. But his recent development on the other side of the ball is why he is being considered as a lottery pick.

When comparing his junior year to his senior year, his shooting averages jumped up significantly on both 2-pointers (47-percent up to 57-percent) and 3-pointers (32-percent to 45-percent). His overall assists went up (3.7 to 5.5 per game), along with his points per game (9.9 to 14 per game), while playing almost the exact same minutes (33 per game).

This increased production was a major reason his team went on win the NCAA Championship, beating a dominant Gonzaga team led by Jalen Suggs. Proponents of Mitchell love how successful he was at the collegiate level.

In the NCAA Tournament itself, Mitchell averaged 13.5 points per game and 5.8 assists per game with shooting splits of 56.5-percent on 2-pointers, 36.4-percent on 3-pointers and 45.5-percent from the foul line. He scored at least 12 points in each of those games.

Mitchell playing well in such high-profile games is encouraging. It put him on a lot of people’s radars beyond being a tough defender.

That may help cover up some of his flaws. That poor free throw percentage in the tournament was a carry over from the season where he shot 64.1-percent from the foul line. He never passed 70-percent from the foul line in any of his college seasons.

Scouts often believe free throw percentage is a better indicator of transferring to 3-point shooting than any other skill.

On top of that, Mitchell averaged only 2.1 free throw attempts per game. For such a small player who relies on attacking the basket, he does not get to the foul line a toon. If Mitchell’s shooting does not translate to the league, he may find it difficult to provide much offensively.

This summer he was hurt also by his Draft Combine measurements. In socks, he was listed at 6-feet, with a 6-foot-4 wingspan.

He also just turned 23 years old, making him the oldest and smallest player being considered in the lottery. These considerations limit his upside tremendously in the NBA.

It is tough to evaluate the Magic’s needs accurately because the team is so young. But one thing is for sure, off-ball shooting is a desperate need.

Even though Mitchell’s shooting drastically improved during his senior year at Baylor, the Magic should be able to find a better shooter who has a higher ceiling than Mitchell. Mitchell was a good scorer last year in college, but he is more of a ball-dominant point guard than a pure shooter.

Before the lottery, the Magic were in contention for a higher pick than No. 5, and mock drafts jumped at the chance for the Magic to draft Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green. That may have felt weird since the team already had Markelle Fultz. But when a team has the potential to land a star player, it takes that risk.

Because of his size and age, Mitchell does not project as a star. In fact, he has one of the lower ceilings of candidates for the lottery.

On top of that, his strengths would overlap with Fultz, as they both need to work on free throw shooting and playing off-ball. His presence on the team would most likely complicate matters.

There are too many hurdles for the Magic to draft Davion Mitchell. The Magic have three young guards who need time to develop in Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony and R.J. Hampton. The Magic taking Mitchell would reduce playing time from the pre-existing guards, making him an awkward fit and overall a reach at 8.