Brooklyn Nets 2017-2018 Player Preview: Akil Mitchell

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Akil Mitchell
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Akil Mitchell /

The Brooklyn Nets filled out their final roster spot by signing a 6’8 forward looking to find a place to stick in the NBA, Akil Mitchell.

A standout during his collegiate years at the University of Virginia, Mitchell played alongside current Nets’ guard Joe Harris. Along with current Washington Wizards forward Mike Scott, the trio led Virginia to its first NCAA tournament appearance in five years.

Mitchell would have his most successful season statistically during his junior season, where he averaged 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. His numbers declined his senior year, but the team was better overall, and he led them to a 30-7 record, a regular season and ACC Tournament Championship and a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.

He then went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, and bounced around from D-League affiliates to international pro teams. He’s played in the NBA Summer League from 2014-2016 for the Houston Rockets, Nets and New York Knicks respectively.

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People might recognize the name. Well, it’s because earlier this year, Mitchell suffered an injury that few people do.

On January 26, 2017, while playing in a game for the New Zealand Breakers, Mitchell went to the ground riving in pain late in the game. What seemed like it was just an accidental eye poke during a scramble for a rebound became something much scarier.

Mitchell did have his eye poked, but the result was his eyeball popping out of his left eye socket. Mitchell was rushed to the hospital and seen by specialists right away. His eye was examined and the fear of his vision being lost was put to rest. It was reported that he could see later the same night. He was discharged that same night as well.

Mitchell returned to the United States to get more opinions on his eye and after being cleared, signed with the Nets’ G-League affiliate, Long Island Nets. In four games he averaged 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

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He was officially signed to the Nets main roster on Sept.24, 2017. Now he will have to play hard to earn minutes on the floor. The team is now going “positionless,” and Mitchell will have to find a niche that makes him valuable.

Not being known as a shooting specialist, Mitchell must use his rebounding skill and hustle to get easy second chance buckets. Rebounding has been a weakness for the Nets for quite some time now. If he can help improve it he will see time on the floor.

He can also carve out minutes is by improving the Nets other glaring weakness from a season ago: defense. If he can guard multiple positions and make open shots then he can solidify himself as a rotation player.

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There is a lot of mystery around Akil Mitchell’s fit. But for someone who almost had his career come to an end, this is a great chance. If he takes advantage of it, he can become another Nets’ underdog success story in no time.