On May 20, 2017, I posted my very first NBA mock draft. In that mock, I had Donovan Mitchell as the eighteenth overall pick to the Indiana Pacers. (https://916kingscourt.com/2017/05/20/2017-mock-draft-1-0-ball-over-fultz/) In every mock after that, Mitchell slowly climbed into the lottery.
In 2003, Wade made it very clear he didn’t know where he was going to be taken. His agent had told him he could be taken anywhere from four to the lower third of the first round. While they each had a wide range of draft positions, that’s only where the similarities begin.
The two players’ similar build just barely begin to scrape the surface of their similarities. Prior to the draft, Mitchell was listed at 6’3 and 210 pounds.
Prior to the 2003 NBA Draft, Wade was listed at 6’4 and 210 pounds. One inch; that’s all that separated the two undersized combo guards.
While Donovan Mitchell was drafted by the Denver Nuggets, he was immediately traded to the Utah Jazz, who were stockpiling young shooting guards in Rodney Hood and Alec Burks.
Dwyane Wade was also selected by a team who didn’t “need” him, as the Miami Heat already had Caron Butler and Eddie Jones on their roster. It all seemed to work out pretty well in the end, however.
Underappreciated Rookie Seasons
As most of you already know, Donovan Mitchell has had a historic rookie season averaging 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists while leading one of the most depleted rosters to homecourt advantage in the dominant Western Conference. He has been somewhat overshadowed by Ben Simmons, who has already been dubbed the heir to Lebron James and practically given the rookie of the year trophy.
While Wade may not have had as impressive a rookie season as Mitchell, he still added 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists to a team who won 17 more games than the previous season. He also was plotted against a dominant small forward from his draft class in Lebron James. While neither one of these players were considered for rookie of the year, they each deserved some more recognition.
Dominant Big Men
While Donovan Mitchell may not have been drafted into the perfect situation with a slew of other young wings, he did join a team with his perfect counterpart at center: Rudy Gobert. Gobert averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds while also being known as a premier defensive center this season. This young duo could be dominant for years to come.
Dwyane Wade found his dominant big in a bit of a different way. Following his surprising rookie season, Shaquille O’Neal became available from the Los Angeles Lakers. Pat Riley traded the Lakers a couple of role players to acquire who was potentially the best player in the NBA at the time. Wade and Shaq would create one of the best 1-2 punches of all-time.
Early Postseason Success
Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio are singlehandedly tearing apart a team led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Steven Adams. Myself included, not many would’ve expected this much success for Mitchell this early in his career, especially playing against four veterans with bounds of playoff experience. We don’t know too much about his success yet, but so good so far.
While Wade did have an impressive rookie season, it wasn’t until his second year in the playoffs that he broke out as one of the greatest players in the world. While Shaq did produce in their playoff run, it was Wade’s efforts in the finals that brought the Heat to the 2005 NBA Championship trophy. Some would even consider his performance the greatest series by a single player in NBA history.
With Wade’s career coming to a close, Donovan Mitchell could be the perfect reincarnation. His explosiveness off the dribble, craftiness, ball-handling, defensive abilities, and clutch factor closely mirror those of Wade. Who knows? Maybe someday Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell could be the new Lebron James and Dwyane Wade.