SB Nation is posting scouting reports of each prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. Learn more about North Texas forward Tony Mitchell.
NAME: Tony Mitchell.
SCHOOL: North Texas.
AGE ON DRAFT NIGHT: 21 years, two months.
POSITION: Power forward.
MEASUREMENTS: 6'9, 236 pounds, 7'2.5 wingspan, 8'10.5 standing reach.
|2012 - Tony Mitchell||32||32.4||4.4||9.9||44.0||0.9||3.1||30.0||3.3||4.9||67.5||2.4||6.1||8.5||0.8||2.4||1.0||2.7||2.9||13.0|
RELEVANT ADVANCED STATS: 8.5% block percentage this season. That's better than most centers.
SB NATION BIG BOARD POSITION: No. 10.
NBA CEILING: Kawhi Leonard.
NBA FLOOR: Luc Richard Mbah A Moute.
JONATHAN TJARKS' ANALYSIS
Tony Mitchell, a Top 15 recruit in the Class of 2010, wound up at North Texas due to academic issues. After taking a redshirt season, he emerged as one of the best players in the country in 2011-12, leading the Mean Green to the Sun Belt Conference championship game.
He returned as a redshirt sophomore, but injuries and a coaching change sank UNT's season. Mitchell's numbers were down across the board, as he averaged 13 points, 8.5 rebounds and three blocks on just 44-percent shooting.
At 6'9 and 235 pounds with a 7'2 wingspan and a 38' max vertical, Mitchell is one of the biggest and most athletic players in the draft.
Mitchell has the size of a power forward and the athleticism of a shooting guard, making him an interesting prospect. Every NBA team needs size, skill and athleticism upfront, and Mitchell has those qualities in spades. At the very least, he's an extremely intriguing defensive prospect who should thrive alongside a high-level point guard.
Mitchell has as much pure talent as anyone in this draft. The challenge for NBA teams will be figuring out how much of that talent was obscured by his situation in college and whether it can be unleashed in the right system at the next level.
More than anyone else, Mitchell could be the Paul George of this year's draft class.
DRAFT EXPRESS SCOUTING REPORT
OTHER SB NATION SCOUTING REPORTS
He was easily the best power forward at the combine, performing well in both the basketball and athletic drills. He ran the floor extremely well and finished with power at the rim. At one point, he put down a windmill dunk running end-to-end while his counterparts were barely getting the ball over the rim on their finishes. Like Thomas, he's a little bit of a tweener, but plays like a power forward. However, he measured at only 6'7.5 without shoes. In all of the other testing though, Mitchell wowed. His wingspan to height ratio was one of the highest at the combine, just behind Schroeder's. He also led all frontcourt players with a 38-inch max vertical.
Mitchell is an imposing presence on offense who is a true inside/outside threat. He can score with jumpers in the face-up game, or he could power his way by you off the bounce. Mitchell isn't a real back-to-the-basket threat, but he is an excellent finisher around the rim. It's tough to gauge exactly how much of this you can attribute to the weaker competition he went up against (North Texas didn't really play anybody: Virginia? Creighton? Saint Louis?) and even against weaker teams in conference, Mitchell disappeared at times.
But there is no denying the guy can score inside and outside. He averaged 14.7 points as a freshman on an absurd 56% shooting from the field (including 43.9% from three). He opted to stay in school for his sophomore year, and he regressed across the board. Scoring was down (13), shooting percentages down (44%/30%/67%), his assist numbers were cut in half. He was taking more shots, but he only averaged one more shot a game on the season. He has put the decline on a lack of effort playing for a bad team, so you wonder if a change of environment is what the kid means.
His combination of physique, athleticism and physical impact is reminiscent of Derrick Favors, Kenneth Faried, Josh Smith or Amar'e Stoudemire, which makes him one of the more enticing players in the entire draft.
Several problems. The first is that Mitchell simply fell apart this year. Scouts noted that he failed to exert any effort during many of his games, something he himself has corroborated in draft/combine interviews. The putative reason for this collapse was a disastrous coaching change, a theory which gains credence from the fact that the entire team appears to have fallen apart right along with Mitchell. Even if you accept that as a plausible excuse, I don't think it is out of line to wonder about the mental toughness, professionalism and commitment of someone who lets himself be taken down by such circumstances. Pro athletes need to be focused, solid, unwavering, which is why David Foster Wallace once said they are like modern monks, albeit less sexually active.
The other problem with Mitchell is poor quality of competition. I count only four decent teams he faced during his two years in college (Creighton, Lehigh, UVA, Saint Louis). The good news is he did really, really well against these teams. And what is even more interesting is all of these games took place this year, when Mitchell otherwise imploded statistically.
Mitchell is as athletic as they come and warrants serious consideration with any pick outside of the top 15. That said, there's a difference between considering someone and actually pulling the trigger on draft day.
Small-ball power forwards are all the rage these days and Mitchell has the physical tools to guard almost every single one of them. Unfortunately, Mitchell appears to be more concerned with making plays in the paint than he is with preventing them from developing.
The fundamentals aren't there yet. And neither is the consistent effort needed to be a defensive player in the NBA. I got a chance to watch him live a couple of times in his collegiate career and it was always disappointing to see how he could have dominated the Sun Belt but didn't. He was obviously the most talented, most physically dominant player in the conference but never asserted himself with the type of effort that one would like to see.
It is concerning for scouts how badly Mitchell's numbers dropped off in his sophomore season. He dropped in points, rebounds, blocks, and assists while becoming drastically less efficient. The Mean Green as a whole disappointed this past season by finishing 12-20 overall after making the conference championship in the previous year. The program went through a coaching change and that could be one of the reasons for Mitchell's head-scratching decline in his sophomore season.
After his freshman year, he was touted as a lottery pick with top-10 potential and that potential is still there. But with how bad his sophomore season ended, he could theoretically drop to the Magic at No. 51, though that'd probably be a far decline. Mitchell needs coaching. He needs motivation. If a coach could tap into that potential, he could be one of the gems in the draft.