The Kings Turn to Defense to Instill a Winning Culture

Written by Ajit Bhullar

Going into the draft, Davion Mitchell was certainly not the pick predicted for the Kings. Despite that, Kings fans have reasons to be quite optimistic about this choice and confident that it will work out very well in the long term.

While the Kings did not address wing depth in this draft, they demonstrated a commitment to bolstering their most debilitating weakness: defense. In all, the Kings did a good job of shoring up their defensive downsides with Davion Mitchell and the additional pick of Neemias Queta in the second round.

Davion Mitchell

Arguably seen as one of the best, if not the best, perimeter defenders to come out of this draft, Davion Mitchell will make a positive impact on the Kings from day one.

Fresh off of winning the NCAA Championship as well as the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, Mitchell knows what it takes to win and will look to instill that mentality in the locker room and on the court.

Endowed with the nickname “Off Night” due to his ability to defensively shut down his opponents, the Kings have brought in a physical rookie who will be able to cover all 94 feet of the hardwood to keep his opponents from rolling on offense.

Some comparisons often tossed around for Davion Mitchell are players like Jrue Holiday and Marcus Smart, and for good reason. Holiday and Smart, measuring in about the same size as Mitchell, are able to lock down most guards, including many of the game’s elite, and both have the physicality and IQ to hold their own and make the game at least a bit more difficult for some bigger and taller matchups.

Speaking of Jrue Holiday, the Bucks’ title run was due in part to his lockdown defense throughout the playoffs, particularly in the Finals against Chris Paul. Once Holiday began pressing the full length of the court, he made the game more difficult for Paul and was able to get the veteran star out of his rhythm, forcing uncharacteristic turnovers.

This is precisely the defensive approach that Davion Mitchell will bring to a team that needs a stopper to secure victories in close games. Having a defensive stalwart who can shut down the opposing side’s point of attack or best scoring guard is a significant impediment to the opposition’s ability to even begin to generate offense.

So far this Summer League, Mitchell has put his defensive ability on display locking down other lottery picks and showing his toughness and grit on that end of the floor.

Offensively, Mitchell has shown throughout college that he can go out and get his own shot on all three levels with his athleticism to both blow by defenders and create space for himself. A key aspect that can improve the Kings’ offense is his three point shooting which will really space out the floor for guys like Fox and Richaun Holmes.

His free throw shooting currently leaves a lot to be desired, but as he has shown through his continued improvement throughout his college career and work ethic, it is certainly an aspect he will seek to and likely improve as his career progresses.

Mitchell’s skills are not only valuable NBA-level talents, they look like they will mesh so seamlessly with the rest of the team, not only adding depth, but maximizing it.

While it is technically true that this pick paints the image of a guard-heavy Kings team, the NBA is currently in an era of positionless basketball, meaning having a three-guard lineup on the court comprised of Fox, Haliburton, and Mitchell can feasibly work, especially since their styles of play complement each other and allow each one to play to their strengths without overextending themselves and running out of gas.

By taking on the toughest defensive assignment, Mitchell will alleviate some pressure off of De’Aaron Fox on that end of the court, and allow Fox to thrive at what he does best. He can also fit well with the Kings’ ability to push the pace, and through his smart defensive plays, help generate more fast break opportunities.

It’s one thing to be young and physical, it’s another thing to pair it with discipline. Mitchell exhibits this two-pronged proficiency, having committed an average of only 2.9 fouls per 40 minutes in his senior year. Much like last year’s pick in Haliburton, Mitchell innately provides a dynamic understanding of the game, which is always a boost because it means the team is not only drafting cultivatable prospects, but also bringing the talent of a player who plays like there’s multiple years under their belt.

As a result, allowing these three athletic, smart, and talented guards to cohesively develop together may result in a lethal three-headed monster that would wreak havoc on their opponents.

Neemias Queta

At 7’0″ and 245 pounds, the Portuguese Neemias Queta offers a very lengthy and athletic interior presence on both ends of the court.

The product out of Utah State brings the ability to get his points down low, grab boards, and serviceably man the paint. He is the sort of prospect who will play to his strengths, so do not bet on him becoming anything more than a potential role player.

While he isn’t destined to be a star or equipped with range to spread the floor, he has proven to be springy, agile, and eager to learn in his early Summer League appearances.

What’s most notable is his defense — both his quickness and his understanding of it. So far in Vegas, the big man has been earning more time because he’s shown he can protect the paint, the pick-and-roll, and, so far, the perimeter.

His athleticism shows he can easily be a center capable of providing a jolt of energy without needing to be on the court for too long. However, with the additions of Tristan Thompson and Alex Len, he will be struggling to amass minutes early on.

If developed properly, he can be the kind of player that will make opposing offenses think twice about trying to find buckets in the paint while also being a sprightly rim runner on the offensive end.

The Wrap Up

With these two picks, Monte McNair made it clear how important defense and a strong locker room culture are in developing a winning team, and with Mitchell and Queta, expect to see results from day one.

Overall, these are draft picks that Kings fans should be proud of.

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