Jonathan Tjarks of SBNation.com writes that the Portland Trail Blazers should select North Texas forward Tony Mitchell with the No. 10 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
To throw some variety in these mock drafts, we're going in a different direction this week. Instead of looking at where guys are likely to go, this is purely my opinion on where I think they should go.
The Blazers need a difference-maker to push them over the top, and all the safe picks could be gone. Mitchell is the perfect combination for them: he has a tremendous amount of upside and a high floor given his off-the-charts athleticism at 6'9, 235.
Tjarks wrote a longer feature arguing that Mitchell could be the 2013 Draft's version of All-Star forward Paul George, who went No. 10 to the Indiana Pacers in 2010.
How does an elite 6'9+ athlete with a fairly complete skillset fall to No. 10 overall? In George's case, because he was the best player on an underachieving mid-major team, far from the national spotlight. If there's one player in this draft who fits that description, it's Tony Mitchell of North Texas -- complete with two first names.
In person, Mitchell more than passes the eye test. He's 6'9, 235 pounds with a 7'2 wingspan and a 38' max vertical. Look at his dunks from UNT Midnight Madness this season. That's a guy bigger than most NBA power forwards dunking two basketballs at once, catching the ball in mid-air and doing a windmill and I'm not even sure what the last once was because holy s--t. At the combine, Mitchell jumped so high they had to put something under the bar to raise it. If things don't work out for him in the NBA, he can march over to the NFL and be an All-Pro TE for the next decade.
Like George, Mitchell put up some fairly interesting statistics in two years of college. As a sophomore, he averaged 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks on 44/30/67 shooting. That's a downgrade from his eye-popping freshman year, when he averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks on 57/44/74 shooting. Right away, you can see his athleticism in his rebounding and shot-blocking numbers. He is still a raw offensive player, as his career average of 1.1 assists to 2.6 turnovers tells you. However, what really jumps off the page are the three-point percentages (48-141 over two years, 34 percent) for a player his size.
Mitchell's physical attributes remain his greatest selling point as a prospect at this stage, as he stands nearly 6'9 in shoes with excellent athleticism, a solid frame, and a very impressive 7'3 wingspan for a power forward. He is capable of utilizing these tools effectively in his shot-blocking, rebounding, and finishing around the basket, though the frequency with which he does all of those things fell off this past year.
The offensive end is where Mitchell's regression this season was most pronounced, and the reasons why become fairly evident early in most possessions, as Mitchell is often content to stand and wait on the perimeter, not moving much without the ball and spending far less time trying to get open in the painted area. North Texas' team chemistry was obviously extremely poor this season, as it appeared that the team gave up on competing at a very early stage, which Mitchell played a major part of.
Chad Ford of ESPN.com has Mitchell at No. 20 on his latest big board.
May 28 Update: After a disappointing sophomore season, Mitchell made some serious progress at the combine, showing off better than expected measurements alongside some terrific athleticism. More importantly, he had candid interviews with teams that suddenly made GMs much more comfortable in taking him. Was he just in the wrong situation at North Texas? If teams believe that, he's going to go a lot higher based on his talent.
May 2 Update: Mitchell has hung around this spot for much of the past two months. Teams are intrigued with his potential and disappointed with his production. If he can make a strong push in workouts, someone will take him in the first round.
Here's a DraftExpress.com video scouting report.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter