BOZICH | Louisville's Donovan Mitchell: Cure for the Knicks' point-guard issues
Could Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell slide over from two-guard and solve the New York Knicks point guard blues?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The New York Knicks haven't had a dominant point guard since Walt Frazier retired. Ask your Uncle Max about Clyde.
OK, that's an exaggeration, but hardly a whopper.
Charlie Ward, the former Heisman Trophy winner, played the position for the Knicks the last time they went to the NBA Finals in 1999.
Since then, they've mixed and matched guys like Gary Grant, Scott Brooks, Rick Brunson, Moochie Norris and Stephon Marbury. (No, I didn't forget two weeks of Jeremy Lin.)
They even tried Derrick Rose last season.
Out of order.
The New York Post nominated an intriguing replacement part for the Knicks this week: Former University of Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell.
The Knicks pick eighth. That's too high for Mitchell.
They also pick 44th and 58th. That's too low unless management can get creative and make a deal.
Either way, Marc Berman of the Post talked with U of L coach Rick Pitino (the link) and Pitino gave his endorsement that Mitchell can play point guard in the NBA, even though Mitchell was primarily a two-guard with the Cardinals the last two seasons.
Obviously, Pitino saw that Mitchell played some of his better games mid-season when starting point guard Quentin Snider was injured, forcing Mitchell to run the offense and create his own shots. There were games when Mitchell played like the college version of Russell Westbrook, knifing to the rim, grabbing rebounds, distributing the ball and making shots.
"Point guard is his natural position," Pitino told Berman. "But because of Quentin Snider, who's been around for awhile as a veteran, I played (Donovan) at the two-guard spot. I see him strictly as a one."
When I mentioned the Westbrook comparison to Mitchell in January after he played one (not two) overpowering half at point guard against Clemson, Mitchell laughed. (The link.)
"He's a little more explosive," he said.
"But I love Westbrook," Mitchell said. "Love Westbrook. Love Westbrook. 100 percent. He never quits."
Mitchell, remember, grew up north of Manhattan in Greenwich, Conn. His father, Donovan Sr., works for the New York Mets as the director of player relations. I'm sure father and son know their way to Madison Square Garden.
Berman reported that the Knicks asked to be one of the teams scheduled to interview Mitchell during the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago two weeks ago. But New York was not a team that Mitchell met.
DraftExpress.com continues to rank Mitchell the 12th best prospect in the draft, predicting that the Detroit Pistons will select him. DraftExpress has the Knicks taking a different point guard, Dennis Smith of North Carolina State.
Pitino told Berman that he retains Knicks' season tickets but joked that he has has not been able to give them away during the team's ongoing struggle to win and become playoff relevant.
He also said that he nicknamed Mitchell, "Eddie Haskell," after the endearing but mischievous character from "Leave It to Beaver."
"He understands everything about the game -- a basketball junkie," Pitino told Berman. "He has a high basketball IQ, a high IQ period."
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