“It was just about my season,” said Mitchell, 21. “Joe asked me why I didn’t play hard some possessions. Regardless of if you don’t make shots or the team is bad, you have to compete. I was telling him that the season was tough and it was hard for me to get up for some games and Joe was just baffled.
“You have to play hard. Listening to a great player like Joe, you can’t do anything but try and do it right. I’m just going to try and take it with me to the NBA.”
Going hard every night was one of the many qualities the Pistons liked what they saw from first-round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Georgia and that’s something Dumars told Mitchell they expect from him.
“With Ken, we watched him and we never saw one night where he took it off,” Dumars said. “He brought it every night. Tony had games when he didn’t bring it every night. We said if we selected him, this past year (at North Texas), that would be the last time that ever happened.”
Now, Mitchell has to live up to the faith Dumars has in him.
Baffled. That is interesting. The subject of his effort will always follow him. I don’t hold it against him the way some of his harsher critics do. It is tremendously difficult to give huge effort to causes that are all but lost. The blame I put on the coaching staff isn’t because I don’t think players should be held accountable, it is because everyone has a part of every thing. Coaches have a responsibility to motivate players to buy in and convince players of the soundness of their system. Players are then responsible for buying in or not. I think the evidence is there that Tony can give maximum effort — he did under Johnny Jones — and that he is coachable. His willingness to be so forthcoming about such a thing is less evidence of a kid with a bad attitude than a guy who could have used a stronger coaching system around him. Learning from guys — apparently like Kentavious — like Joe Dumars is the best thing for him. I have a feeling it will turn out okay.