Know the Prospect: Tony Mitchell

This guy looks fun. Just look at how much fun he is having! - Eric Francis

We look at the North Texas forward and how he might fit with the Knicks at 24.

Posting & Toasting! It's your good friend Ross Bernhardt (aka viva_morrison) back for yet another round of Know the Prospects. If you can believe it, this will mark four glorious years of KtP profiles. It all started with a Jimmer Fredette profile (back when he was a second-round wannabe and not a first-round bust) and look what we have blossomed into! It's a pleasure to be back, even though I do still wish I was watching Knicks basketball instead.

Before we get into today's prospect, I do want to offer up a warning. In the three years I have been doing this, I have yet to write up a profile on the player the Knicks actually select in the draft. I had started Shump's but then got sidetracked. So as tantalizing as I might make a prospect sound, just know that I have a 0% success rate in writing up players that we draft. Don't take my profiles with a grain of salt; take them with a whole shaker.

But we're back in the first round this year, albeit the late first round because we're so awesome, and the probability of knowing who the Knicks might want to take seems much greater, especially with the wonderful Paul Chillsap on board to help out. But I swear if he writes up the guy the Knicks take, I will rue the day I agreed to let him do this.

Enough of my blabbering, you guys want a prospect to fawn over. Here he is, straight out of North Texas (not Texas State, the school from Necessary Roughness starring Scott Bakula and Sinbad). The talented sophomore forward regressed from his freshman to sophomore years (in pretty much every single category), but he still carries plenty of potential and would be terrific value where the Knicks pick. Let's learn more about him, shall we?

The Rundown

Measurements: 6' 7.5" (w/o shoes), 6' 8.75" w/shoes), 236 pounds, 7' 2.5" wingspan, 8' 10.5" standing reach, 5.6% body fat, 33' no-step vert, 38' max vert.

Projected Draft Position (as of right now): 21 at Draft Express, 26 at NBADraft.net, 19 at SI.com, 22 at ProBasketballDraft

Actual Draft Profiles/Stats: Draft Express, NBADraft.net, StatSheet, North Texas Page

Amateur Take - Offense: 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.

Mechanics-wise, Mitchell has decent form on his shot (though it is a little low for my taste) and he's extremely coordinated with the ball both in the air and dribbling.

Amateur Take - Defense: Mitchell can do a lot of things defensively to help a team. His length and leaping ability make him a great shot-blocker (3 a game as a freshman, slightly down to 2.7 a game as a soph.) and he is also a solid rebounder on that end. He averaged a double-double as a freshman (Anthony Davis was the only other one) but his defensive rebound rate slid drastically his sophomore year (29% to 20.6%). He can probably put more weight on his frame and become even more of a presence down low to bang inside.

His athleticism and ability to rebound/block shots are things that should translate over effectively and improve with more coaching at the next level. He has a lot of potential to develop into a solid defender in this league.

From the Scouts: From Joe Treutlein's Draft Express profile:

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.

Jump shots accounted for roughly one half of Mitchell's half-court shot attempts this season according to Synergy Sports Technology (compared to a much more reasonable one third last season), but more concerning is his points per possession on those jumpers nose-dived from a very strong 1.153 last year to a very weak 0.754 this year. Mitchell is taking more jump shots of higher difficulty this season and seems to be less focused on consistently using good mechanics in all situations, and it's caused him to become a far less effective and efficient player overall...

Mitchell's defense is probably the area of his game that took the smallest setback this year (his per 40 pace adjusted blocks fell from 3.9 to 3.2), as he was already very inconsistent with effort and awareness while not having much in terms of a fundamental base in man-to-man coverage. His decline in shot-blocking is concerning, like the other areas of his game, but this is the one area where his physical gifts have actually allowed him to remain a well above average player despite his setbacks.

Random Red Flag: Obviously, that severe drop-off in production and his admission to not being motivated is a biggie. But the fact that he owned up to it and did not deny it really impressed me. Also, Mitchell was ruled academically ineligible coming out of high school, which is why he didn't go to Missouri.

The Clyde Factor: This is one of the most generic names we've seen. I know it's Clyde, but I am actually having a difficult time seeing how he could mess this up. Maybe saying "Michelle" instead of "Mitchell"? I am reaching. But he could rhyme this shit for days. "Tony is no one-trick pony!" "Tony sounds as good as a Sony!" (I can only think of rhymes with Tony).

Knick Knacks:

  • Mitchell would be the first North Texas player since Lee Winfield, who played for the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. He was teammates with Nate Archibald, Scott Wedman and MIKE D'ANTONI OMG WUT
  • North Texas' moniker is the Mean Green. I really hope that is just the grown-up version of The Big Green.
  • He broke the all-time record for blocked shots at North Texas in just 2 years.
  • Mitchell has some international experience and was the leading rebounder for the U19 team at the 2011 World Championships.
  • Dude has his own website: tonymitchell13.com. There is a pretty cool "interactive" dunk graphic, where you get inside the anatomy of how he dunks. Spoiler alert: he dunks like LeBron and wants to take off like an airplane.
  • Also, the Bio section hasn't updated his falling draft position (but from that, you can glean that he was regarded as a top-10 pick AND likes J. Cole/Meek Mill).
  • He has compared himself to Kenneth Faried. You all remember how in love with Kenneth Faried I was. In order to replicate his succes, he's hired Faried's agent, Thad Foucher.
  • There is another Tony Mitchell, who went to Alabama and also got into some trouble with the NCAA.

Let's Get Reel:

6'8 Tony Mitchell Is an INSANE Athlete! Sleeper Pick For College Player of The Year? (via Ballislifedotcom)

Tony Mitchell DESTROYS Three Crazy Dunks At North Texas Mean Green Madness Dunk Contest! (via themarsleak)

Tony Mitchell 2013 NBA Draft Scouting Report Video (via DraftExpress)

Former Mizzou Signee Tony Mitchell Finds Home at North Texas (via Danny Spewak)

What We Learned:

  • You can see just how damn athletic this kid is. The length makes him look like a smaller DeAndre Jordan with the way he elevates above the rim and finishes with force.
  • It's a pick-up game against what look like scrubs, but you can also see how imposing he can be on defense tossing shit left and right.
  • You can definitely see a lot of the problem areas identified in the DraftExpress video. Those instances of just standing and watching (on offense and defense) make we worried.

Conclusions: I think that Mitchell would be a very nice pick for the Knicks at 24. The brass obviously has to be confident that his regression was just an anomaly and that he can return to form instead of continuing to languish. It would be hard to pass up that kind of inside-out game with that athleticism/potential. Imagine seeing him and Shumpert on the break? That would be something.

At 24, the Knicks can't really be too picky. This has to be a value pick, not a needs-based one. And since the Knicks have a lot of needs (and we don't know exactly how the roster will look by draft time), the team should be looking for the best player available. That's where a guy with a huge ceiling like Mitchell would be a fit. If he can realize that potential and actually become a Kenneth Faried-type rebounder and attacker, he would be an incredible asset off the bench. I wouldn't be opposed to taking this guy.

What do you all think?

Ross Bernhardt is the managing editor of CHARGED.fm the Magazine. You can check out his Internet writings there and follow him on Twitter: @ross_bernhardt

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