Where Davion Mitchell goes, success and accolades soon follow. Already proud owner of an AAU championship, high school state title, then going to be the Big 12 champion and eventually win the NCAA tournament with Baylor, Mitchell certainly has a notable pedigree under his belt already. He was bound to continue from there though, as Davion helped spur the Sacramento Kings to a perfect 5-0 record en route to winning the 2021 NBA Summer League Championship.
Established in 2013, the Summer League has become a preseason staple that seems to become more popular and competitive every year. The festivities enjoyed a significant boost in exposure in 2019, as Zion Williamson made his first on-court appearance in the NBA limelight. This year was no different, as fans flocked to watch Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green duke it out in a potential preview of the Rookie of the Year race.
After running through the competition in the first four exhibition games, the Sacramento Kings earned a spot in the championship game where they would go on to crush the Boston Celtics 100-67. Sacramento’s incredible defensive effort was led by Mitchell and proved to be too much for the likes of Payton Prichard and Carsen Edwards.
In eight years of Summer League action—taking a year off in 2020 due to safety protocols— no other team has managed to win it all twice. That other instance happened in 2014, where Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum won it all for Sacramento. Obviously, neither of those two experiments panned out for the Kings, but I believe Mitchell has given us reason to believe things may play out differently this time around.
Davion Mitchell tacks on to his already prolific resume by leading the Sacramento Kings to their second-ever NBA Summer League championship.
In a setting where all eyes were focused on two particular rookies, Davion Mitchell made his presence felt early and often. Mitchell scored just 10.8 points per game but seemed to have no trouble breaking down defenses and letting others score from the opportunities he created. This is why Mitchell racked up 29 assists to just 7 turnovers across all five games.
Mitchell’s struggles from the free throw line continued, hitting just 2 of 7 attempts from the charity stripe. He redeemed himself from beyond the arc, shooting 47.1 percent on 17 three-point attempts. But most of all, it was Mitchell’s defense that stole the show.
Mitchell clamped up and terrorized offensive players throughout all five games, forcing turnovers and creating fast break opportunities left and right. While Mitchell only accumulated 5 steals total across all five games, the statistics don’t tell the whole story. He was seamlessly fighting through set screens, obstructing drawn-up plays that ended in a 24-second violation or a bad shot, and routinely forcing faulty passes for his teammates to capitalize on.
This is why Mitchell was named Summer League Co-MVP, despite not having the statistical success of other players. His defensive prowess was unmatched and ultimately was the deciding factor in the King’s championship push. Cam Thomas of the Brooklyn Nets only managed to snag the other Co-MVP spot instead of winning it outright, despite averaging 27 points a game.
It’s clear to see how much the league already respects Mitchell, and that’s a refreshing change from year’s past. With a young core of Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Richaun Holmes, Sacramento is finally building something that leads in a positive direction. Win or lose, it’s going to be very interesting to see the team’s mentality shift as players like Mitchell take leadership roles and instill a bit of that toughness this team has clearly lacked for far too long.