We’ve seen many sides of Tony Mitchell this season. We’ve seen what happens when he wears or doesn’t wear a headband. We’ve seen what happens when the game’s on the line. He’s both brought the ball up the court, and been asked to guard the opposing team’s biggest player. He is a mismatch waiting to happen, and Skyforce Head Coach Nevada Smith has recently found the most effective way to deploy him.
Mitchell’s been asked to come off the bench for five straight games now, and has appeared in seven games total off the bench this season. It seems odd to bring the team’s leading scorer off the bench, but this new strategy appears to be working to perfection. Sioux Falls boasts a 5-2 record when Mitchell is leading the second unit, and a meager 6-11 record when he’s in the starting lineup.
Mitchell’s most recent move to the bench came five games ago at home against the Northern Arizona Suns, a game in which Mitchell dropped 23 points, a season-high 15 rebounds and seven assists. Since then, the Skyforce have won four of their last five games, and finally have some much-needed momentum heading into the 2018 NBA G League Showcase.
Not only has Mitchell’s bench role benefited the team, it appears to have benefited both his efficiency and overall performance as well. Mitchell’s averaging 23.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game while shooting 42.5 percent from three-point range in seven games off the bench this season. In 18 games in the starting lineup, Mitchell has averaged 20.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting just 32.9 percent from three-point range.
Mitchell’s stats improve in nearly every category coming off the bench this season. Take a look:
The most significant boost is seen in Mitchell’s shooting percentages across the board. His three-point percentage jumps all the way up to 42.5 percent, and his free throw percentage follows suit, jumping to 80.0 percent. Now in a lineup bolstered by Miami HEAT two-way player Derrick Walton Jr., it appears as though Head Coach Nevada Smith has finally found an optimal lineup now halfway through the season.
Starting or not, Mitchell has been one of the most consistent Force players over the first two months of the season, and has been lethal when the game is on the line on the offensive end of the court. In fact, Mitchell is on pace to make 168 threes this season. That mark would shatter the Skyforce franchise record for most three-pointers made in a single season which currently stands at 135, set by David Jackson in 2003-04.
Mitchell recently cracked the top 10 NBA G League prospects heading into the NBA G League showcase in Mississauga, Ontario, and will look to continue putting on a show as the season goes on. Click here for the complete list: http://on.nba.com/2CVHmpf