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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Donovan Mitchell: The Next Dwayne Wade?

2003 was quite a long time ago. It was the most loaded NBA draft of all time, and for the last 14 or so years, the NBA world has been wondering if we would ever see such a star-studded draft again. Well, those prayers were not only answered, they were gift wrapped in golden paper.

The rookies of this class seem to be dominating in their own way, each unique and ignoring the pettiness of the rookie race altogether. They are comparing themselves with the best, not the other first years. While he may not have been the highest draft pick, Donovan Mitchell has come out and dominated straight off the bat just like the others. Except there is a caveat. He seems to look quite similar to a player in the aforementioned 2004 draft, a certain shooting guard. That’s right, Mitchell is showing flashes of “The Flash,” Dwayne Wade.

Mitchell is currently second in the Rookie of the Year race, barely behind Ben Simmons. Right now, his stats consist of an amazing 19 points per game along with 3.3 assists and rebounds. His shots come from all three areas which is quite uncommon for such a young player. His slashing ability has been nothing short of amazing—which honestly makes sense as he posted a 40+ inch vertical at the combine—but it’s a bit more than athleticism.

Mitchell has an uncanny knack for adjusting his body midair. It may not be the full “jelly” layups Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry do, but it is just as efficient, and for a rookie that is quite fine. He also makes his three pointers at an interestingly high rate. Thirty-five percent is by no means a high number, but considering he takes 6.6 threes per game, it does correlate with his gaudy production.

The last is his efficiency from the free throw line. An average free throw shooter shoots around 70 percent, but he shoots at a great 85 percent. There are no areas in scoring that are considered a weakness in his book. His defense could definitely use some work, but he is still boasting 1.4 win shares from the defensive side alone. This is near the number Joel Embiid, who is considered one of the league’s best rim protectors, has.

After that contextual understanding, there still needs to be a justification for my comparison of him and Wade. Believe me, I do realize the differences. Wade could never shoot the three and was far more of a slasher than Mitchell is right now. But besides slight differences, the nuances in play and impact are so starkly similar it’s impossible to look over. For one, they both played an aggressive sub-point guard role. To call them shooting guards is a bit of a misinterpretation of their role in their respective teams. Wade had a rookie usage rate of 25 percent while Mitchell is right next to him at 28.7 percent. They are used as the secondary ball handler behind their respective point guards and attack.

They attack in different ways but it still doesn’t deter the nature in which they are utilized. They both possess runway speed which is quite rare to see in today’s NBA if your name isn’t Lebron James. The speed at which Wade and Mitchell attack right off the inbound is so similar it’s staggering. They both utilize the spin and euro step to great ends and function far beyond their years. If all of these don’t convince you of the similarities between the two, I offer the final bastion of comparison, Player Efficiency Rating (PER). PER is honestly one of the only basketball stats found on almost pure objectivity. Wade was at 17.6 while Mitchel is at 17.1.

Stats alone don’t make the comparison. It’s the visual impact. They both strongarm their teams into victory and make the same odd mistakes in shot selection. It’s one thing to say Mitchell is an up and coming star, but to say that he’s on the same track as a future Hall of Famer? That is something truly special.