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Rick Pitino claims he pushed for Knicks to draft Donovan Mitchell in 2017

Rick Pitino, Donovan Mitchell

Former New York Knicks head coach Rick Pitino has recently come out to say how he desperately tried to convince the Knicks to draft Donovan Mitchell in the 2017 NBA Draft. The 67-year-old veteran shot-caller actually coached Mitchell during the 6-foot-1 guard’s two-year stint at Louiseville, so Pitino definitely had some insider knowledge on the now-Utah Jazz rising star.

Pitino went on to share that New York’s front office did not think that Mitchell was worth the seventh overall pick in the draft, and instead, opted to go for then-19-year-old Belgian point guard Frank Ntilikina.

While this has certainly proven to be a huge mistake by the Knicks in hindsight, we must also take into consideration the fact that 12 other teams also passed on Mitchell before the Jazz were able to scoop him up at the 13th pick. New York definitely missed out on a tremendous opportunity here, but it’s not as if they were the only organization that somehow overlooked Mitchell’s untapped potential.

It is no secret that the Knicks are having yet another terrible season, and this new bit of information just adds salt to their wounds. It’s hard not to imagine how Mitchell could have turned this franchise around had the Knicks decided to bring him on board.

This season, the third-year guard has raised his level of play even more, with current averages of 24.9 points (on 44.9 percent shooting), 5.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.4 steals, while also knocking down 2.0 3-pointers per ballgame on a 38.4-percent clip. There’s no denying that Mitchell’s talent is of the franchise-altering variety, and it’s definitely a shame that Lady Luck wasn’t smiling on the Knicks in that fateful evening back in 2017.