Louisville coach Rick Pitino doesn’t like to hear draft analysts downplay 6-foot-3 Donovan Mitchell as an undersized shooting guard. That won’t be his position in the NBA.
“Point guard is his natural position,’’ Pitino told The Post. “But because of Quentin Snider, who’s been around a while as a veteran, I played [Donovan] at the two-guard spot. I see him strictly as a one.”
That versatility, his defensive mindset and character are reasons the Knicks have more than a casual interest in Mitchell — whether at No. 8 or trading down a few notches to later in the lottery.
The Louisville sophomore has local ties. His father Donovan Mitchell Sr. works for the Mets as director of player relations after a career as a minor-league journeyman who played for Mets manager Terry Collins. The Greenwich, Conn. product, who grew up 25 miles from the Knicks’ Tarrytown complex, is projected in most mock drafts as a late-lottery pick.
Pitino said the Chicago combine — where Mitchell participated in skills/measurements — helped his stock. Mitchell, 20, measured in at 6-3 with shoes — 6-1 ½ without — and recorded a healthy 6-10 wingspan.
“I think having that wingspan and being the defensive-minded person that I am will definitely help,” said Mitchell, who played a handful of games at point guard when Snider got hurt. “Because at Louisville you don’t step on the floor unless you play defense”
Mitchell averaged 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists last season. Pitino, the ex-Knicks coach, figured Mitchell would be picked in the middle of the first round after Louisville’s 25-9 season ended in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.
Now he’s thinking grander.
“After the combine, we’re hearing he’ll be [a] lower [number] than where we thought because of what he did there in terms of measurements, 40-inch vertical, shot it well,’’ Pitino said. “He led the ACC in steals and showed anticipation…