Tony Mitchell’s headband hasn’t lasted a full game yet this season. Though Mitchell frequently dons the new, Nike and NBA-logoed headgear to start the game, it has only lasted past the first quarter on two occasions, and he’s never closed the game with one on. For whatever reason, the headband always comes off, and Mitchell becomes a different player when it does.
When Mitchell’s headband comes off, he means business. His efficiency on the offensive end of the floor skyrockets, and his numbers back that up. Mitchell has scored 134 of his 164 total points this season sans headband, and his three-point shooting percentage climbs from just 18.2 percent (with a headband) to a blistering 41.4 percent (without a headband).
Below are Mitchell’s per 36 minute stat-lines with and without a headband so far this season.
Headband Tony Mitchell
No-Headband Tony Mitchell
Let’s put all of these numbers into context using a real-life scenario.
In Sioux Falls’ home game against the Salt Lake City Stars in mid-November, Mitchell’s headband only lasted 2 minutes and 20 seconds, as he ditched it during a timeout early in the first quarter. In those two minutes and 20 seconds, Mitchell missed his lone field goal attempt, and turned the ball over twice. Mitchell returned to the court, minus the headband, and dropped 25 points while making a career-high 7-of-12 three-point attempts and only committing one more turnover over his next 29:07 minutes of playing time.
Now, some may be thinking, ‘of course his numbers are better, he only wore the headband for two minutes!’ Let’s look at a game where Mitchell decided to give his headband a full quarter of playing time.
On Friday, November 25 against the Grand Rapids Drive, Mitchell played all 12 minutes of the first quarter (with a headband), managing only two points and two rebounds, while shooting 1-of-5 from the field and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc. Mitchell, again, tossed the headband aside before he re-entered the game in the second quarter, and went on to score 31 more points, shooting 10-of-17 from the field over the next three quarters.
When the headband comes off, Mitchell improves in every statistical category except for the rate at which he steals the ball. The jump from 15.0 points to 25.7 points per 36 minutes, and his boosted three-point percentage are of largest note.
Much like tongue-out Michael Jordan, black facemask Kyrie Irving, or Mamba Face Kobe Bryant…when Tony Mitchell’s headband comes off, he’s a killer. Opposing teams and fans alike are put on notice that he’s locked in, and a storm is coming.
Just nine games into the season, there’s still plenty of time for the headband to make a comeback. Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue with the “all-business” approach that seems to accompany the removal of the headband to this point in the season. This developing storyline clearly needs to be monitored closely as time goes on.