Dillon Mitchell’s expanding offensive game
Sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell entered this season with the expectation that he would take his offensive game to the next level while still being one of the best one-on-one defenders at his position in the Big 12.
The talent and physical tools are there for Mitchell to become one of the best and most explosive athletes among two-way forwards in the major conferences this season. Still, he needs more opportunities and confidence in his facilitating and playmaking abilities on offense.
A big point of emphasis for Mitchell during the offseason was improving his jump shot. He built some hype with a solid showing at the NBA Combine last spring while draining three-pointer after three-pointer.
Mitchell showed off some of his expanded offensive game in Texas’ first two games against UIW and Delaware State. He drained two mid-range jumpers in the first two games. And he’s already showing more confidence in his scoring ability away from the basket, as he’s attempted six mid-range jumpers.
As Mitchell gets more comfortable with his mid-range jump shot, he can continue to expand his range with more field goal attempts from deep two and beyond the arc.
Two other positives from Mitchell regarding the new developments in his offensive game early this season are more facilitation of the offense and drawing more contact to get to the line. Mitchell has already gotten to the free-throw line seven times this season. That is over three times the number of free-throw attempts he averaged per game as a true freshman.
Free throw efficiency is still a question mark for Mitchell, who shot 0-of-3 from the charity stripe in the opener against UIW and 40 percent from the line last season. But he did improve his free-throw shooting in Texas’ Nov. 10 win over Delaware State, going a perfect 4-of-4 from the stripe.
But the very fact that Mitchell is getting to the line more often by drawing contact as a threat from the high post and around the rim is a stride in the right direction.
The other positive development for Mitchell early this season is the ability to distribute the ball from inside the arc. Mitchell has facilitated the offense from the inside out early this season more than he ever did last year, which makes sense given the departure of senior forward Timmy Allen.
Allen was the secondary facilitator Texas could look to generate offense and set up open teammates with nice passes when other outlets weren’t available. With Allen gone, Texas needs someone to step up and facilitate the offense more often near the post and around the elbow.
Mitchell has the court vision, ball handling, and passing ability necessary to be that secondary facilitator inside for the Longhorns. And he did well in this role early this season, as he’s averaged 3.5 assists per game. It’s crazy that Mitchell already has half the number of assists through two games this year that he had all last season.
The other parts of Mitchell’s game that Texas fans came to know and love last season are still present. He’s still a high-flying lob threat that can help Texas win the battle on the boards and give them an edge as a switchable and athletic defender in the frontcourt.