In last week’s NBA draft, a player by the name of Tony Mitchell went off the board at pick 37 to the Detroit Pistons. Almost 25 picks later than where he was predicted to go if he decided to forgo his sophomore season at UNT and enter the 2012 NBA draft.
Within one year, Mitchell went from being a lottery pick talent with elite athleticism to a second round, multiyear project on a team with recent losing tradition.
At least a losing situation is something he got used to with his final year at the University of North Texas.
Because Mitchell is considered a prospect, Detroit could have been the worst team he could have landed.
While the Pistons have talented young players like Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, they were each first round picks and considered as NBA ready players. Mitchell needs maturing and lots of coaching from both players and the Detroit staff.
In his eight years of coaching, Maurice Cheeks has run three playoff teams but in the regular season is 284-286. A percentage of .498 is the ultimate definition of an average record of accomplishment.
Cheeks is not the coach to mold a young player who is I need of a proven coach that can bring a long a player and implement him into a system that will best fit him.
Mitchell may not be the prize of the draft for the Piston’s organization so it wouldn’t surprise me that he doesn’t get too much playing time or attention which is really a shame. Mitchell has a limitless ceiling, but he just needs some scaffolding to reach the top. He can’t do it on his own. Mitchell already proved that with his final season at UNT.
Before the draft, ESPN had Mitchell going 42nd to the San Antonio Spurs. The perfect team and situation for both Mitchell and SA because they have the best coach in the league and one of the greatest big men of all time to help Mitchell’s process of becoming the NBA player that he has the ability to be.
Instead, he’s on a team with striking similarities to the 2012-2013 Mean Green. A team led by one and two year players and in the middle of a coaching change. It ended as a disappointing campaign for Mitchell when he was a star and now, as a NBA prospect, he may never get his professional career moving in the right direction.
Two of the top players on the Detroit roster take the roles of the big men. The Pistons offense revolves around the play of their guards Knight and Rodney Stuckey. With the talent in front of him in the rotation and a system that revolves around the perimeter players, playing time at first will be a valuable commodity for the athletic big man.
I get the feeling Mitchell’s above the rim style will win him some playing time with the coaches and brownie points with fans. He brings a certain type of energy to the Palace that hasn’t been there for years. Even if it is eight minutes per game, he can add a spark by getting the bench and fans out of their seats with his version of a two pointer.
The best bet for Mitchell would be to find himself in a trade to a playoff caliber team within his first couple of seasons. I do not feel he will find what he is looking for in the Motor City.
Then throw in reports that the Pistons are meeting with Atlanta forward Josh Smith it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mitchell in the D-League to start the season if Smith were to join Detroit.
After all of this I can confidently say the Detroit will improve on its 29-53 regardless of landing Smith but not because of Mitchell’s presence. Detroit will be better because its core will be stronger by adding another offseason together with each other.
I’ve met Tony Mitchell, I’ve talked to him and covered a vast majority of his collegiate career and wish him the best of luck when October 29 comes around. I plan to follow this young man’s career to the end but there’s just the sneaking suspicion that it may just not be long enough to have a follow up to this article.