Rookie guard Davion Mitchell lived up to his defensive reputation as the Kings defeated the Celtics Tuesday to capture the championship in the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Jason Jones of The Atheltic. Jones suggests Mitchell could be a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, even without exceptional numbers on offense.
Mitchell showed he can be a difference-making defender during Baylor’s run to the NCAA title, and he brought that same intensity to Summer League play. In Tuesday’s game, he shut down Boston’s Payton Pritchard, who had been averaging 20.3 PPG in Vegas, holding him to six points.
“I think if my teammates see that, they’re going to want to play hard because I’m like the head of the snake,” Mitchell said. “So I’m going to be up there playing pressure defense, so my teammates are going to follow behind me. So I think if I lead by example and be myself in training camp, I can change the identity here.”
Sacramento was hoping to land Michigan’s Franz Wagner on draft night, according to Jones, but when the Magic took him one pick earlier, the Kings opted for Mitchell, the highest-rated player left on their board, even though they already have two ball-handlers in De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. They have confidence in Mitchell as a defender, even against bigger players, Jones notes, and plan to use a lot of three-guard lineups.
There’s more on the Kings:
- The MVP of the title game was Louis King, who had 21 points and five steals, Jones states in the same story. A two-way player who played six games for Sacramento at the end of the season, King can provide size on the perimeter and showed he can play defense, which was a question coming into Las Vegas. “He’s got an edge about him and that’s why I like him,” Summer League coach Bobby Jackson said. “He’s confident. He understands where he wants to be at and what he wants to achieve.”
- Another player who improved his standing was Jahmi’us Ramsey, a second-round pick in 2020 who got into just 13 games last season. The Kings weren’t sure if Ramsey would play in the Summer League because of injuries, but he was steady throughout and scored 16 points in the win over Boston.
- Jackson, who was named head coach of the Kings’ G League affiliate in May, showed he’s ready for the job, observes James Ham of NBC Sports California. “I told them training camp was going to be hard, but I kept preaching teamwork, chemistry, having each other’s backs, defending at a high level, making other teams uncomfortable, and taking things away,” Jackson said.