Davion Mitchell

Kings guard Mitchell reveals biggest leap he's made in NBA so far

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  • Programming note: Watch Davion Mitchell's "Kings Central" interview with Kyle Draper at 8 p.m. PT on Friday on NBC Sports California, immediately after "Kings Postgame Live."

In just over two years in the NBA, Kings guard Davion Mitchell has experienced the highs and lows that come with being in the league.

The 25-year-old guard is in his third season with the Kings, and as he sat down with NBC Sports California's Kyle Draper on the latest "Kings Central" episode and reflected on the biggest leap he's made thus far as a professional hooper, his response had less to do with the physical part of the game.

"For me, it's the mental aspect," Mitchell said. "I think the physical always can come. You can always learn how to do something if you work on your game. You're going to be able to learn how to shoot if you work on your shot. It's little things you can work at. But the mental aspect is the tough part. Coming from a winning culture, from high school, from college -- I've always been winning. Then I ended up going to losing [with the Kings]. And I never had that feeling to be on that downside. And I just had to figure it out.

"It took a toll on my mental, my body. I was just trying to do everything just to win, but you got to lose sometimes to learn. That's what I learned from it. Not every game you're going to have a good game, so not being mad at the fact that you had a bad game cause you have so many other games after that that you have to worry about. So just the mental aspect of the game, for sure."

Mitchell has been a winner all his life.

As a basketball-obsessed kid, he turned his biggest dream into a reality.

Mitchell, who grew up in Hinesville, Ga., won a state championship with his high school basketball team. He played collegiate ball at Auburn before transferring to Baylor, where he was a starter on one of the top teams in the country. In 2021, he helped Baylor win its first national championship, dropping 15 points, six rebounds and five assists in an 86-70 win against the previously undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs in the title game.

A few months later, he was selected by the Kings with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. From knowing nothing but winning to joining a team that hadn't made it to the playoffs since 2006 and essentially was the laughing stock of the league was an adjustment for Mitchell.

But he made the most of the opportunity.

As a rookie, Mitchell averaged 11.5 points on 41.8 percent shooting, along with 2.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 75 games and 19 starts. His scoring numbers and minutes dropped in his sophomore season, but he became a player whose numbers didn't always fill up a stat sheet.

He is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league, earning the nickname "Off Night" for gifting opposing players with a day off when he guards them.

While his offensive role decreased last season, his defensive presence was just as important as the Kings snapped their 17-year postseason drought and took the then-defending champion Golden State Warriors to a Game 7 in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

The first-round exit gave Mitchell plenty of time to get in the gym this past summer, and he did. His offseason work still has yet to be fully displayed in the 2023-24 NBA season, but as long as he stays mentally ready and continuously confident, his time will come.

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