For any professional athlete, having a good or great year is usually a result of the work that was put in during the offseason. Headed into his third NBA season, Sacramento Kings guard Davion Mitchell has spent his summer doing two-a-days with trainer Kris Chrisp, which has resulted in added muscle. The 24-year-old guard also spent some time working with Steph Curry’s shooting coach Brandon Payne.
Last season, Mitchell and the Kings ended a 17-year playoff drought, claiming the three-seed and taking the Golden State Warriors to seven games. Experience and a 50-point performance in Game 7 by Curry were the undoing in what was not only a special season in Sacramento, but also the start of a good foundation. Mitchell has already established himself as one of the league’s best on-ball defenders and his focus on improving his shooting and all-around offensive game will only make the Kings even more formidable.
Muscle & Fitness caught up with Mitchell during some downtime to discuss what he learned from his first taste of postseason play, what he wanted to accomplish headed into next season, and how his thoughts on recovery have changed since becoming a pro.
M&F: How has the offseason been?
DM: I’ve been traveling to different places. As far as the work, I’ve just been working everywhere I go. Just being consistent and disciplined — those have been the two main words this summer. Every day I’m doing something, working on my body, trying to eat right every day. I mean, I feel like I eat right throughout the week, and I always have a cheat day at the end of the week. So far I’ve lost weight, which is a good thing, and I gained more muscle.
Me and my friends went to Costa Rica for five days. I also went to Spain for five days with the NBAPA. Spain was the best for me, just because of the setup they had as far as the gym goes. It was just an amazing gym, with good views, and there were a bunch of NBA players in the same facility, so you get to play against them and pick their brains a little bit. As far as food goes, Costa Rica has them on food, but they both were really good eats.
Headed into this offseason, what were some of the areas of focus?
I think the main thing is just becoming a better shooter and I think it’s improving. I’m picking different people’s brains, like Steph Curry and his trainer. He’s the best shooter of all time, so why not ask questions when you have a chance? I’ve been working out with him, and I think that’s helped me a little bit. And as far as that goes, you just have to put in the work. Every day is the same thing — just being consistent on the two-a-days and watching film. I think those helped me become a better shooter. I’ve become more comfortable and more confident this summer.
You guys broke a 17-year playoff drought last season and went seven games with the Warriors. What do you think came together for the group last season?
I think just the great group of guys we had. They put a really good team together as far as personalities and talent with how everyone played off one another. Everyone loved being around each other and it was hard to find someone who was selfish. You usually always have that one guy who can be a little bit selfish, but none of our guys were — even the star players. They took the back seat when they needed to and when it was time to step up, they did their job.
As far as the coach’s staff, they did a really good job just coming in and organizing everything. My first year, it wasn’t really organized, and I think that’s what made us lose a couple of games because we were kind of all over the place. When Mike Brown came in with his coaching staff, it was a lot more organized. It was easier to go into practice knowing what we were about to do. It was easy traveling. Everything was just so much easier and made the game a lot easier.
What did you learn from that postseason series?
I learned that it’s completely different basketball. You would never know what it is unless you’re in it. I feel like you can imitate a regular-season basketball game if you have a bunch of NBA players and a referee. But when the playoffs come, it’s just completely different. You cannot imitate that. The calls are not being called, and the pressure and playing the same team over and over. It’s exhausting, but also fun. You know each other’s schemes. It’s just a fun environment and I understand why people love the playoffs so much because it’s the best basketball ever.
Hopefully, we get to the championship one of these days, but the playoffs are just fun basketball. I enjoy it because it’s more physical and that’s my game. My mindset when I come to play basketball is to be a physical defender. If the refs are not calling the game tight, it’s kind of to my advantage.
With your workout program, how important is that to help you complete your tasks when you’re on the floor?
It’s very important. I’ve never been a big weightroom guy. When I was younger, I was just a lot bigger than everyone and I was fine with not lifting weights, but I think it’s important now because you play so many games and you get bumps and bruises throughout the season and [lifting] kind of protects you from injury. I’ve never been a guy who really got injured like that but now I think that’s been the biggest thing for me in being consistent in the weight room to stay on the floor.
I’m working on my core, and my legs, just getting through screens, doing different footwork, and pushing off. I mean, [personal trainer] Kris [Chrisp] does a really good job. He studies it like I study basketball. He watches me all the time, so whatever he says I need to do, I listen to it because he always has my best interest. I feel a lot faster, and lighter and I feel more balanced here, which is good because I lost weight and I still feel strong, which is always good because you’re taking weight off your knees.
How has your thought process on recovery changed?
When I was at Baylor, I wasn’t too big on recovery. I just felt like after a game I could go home and the next day I played. That’s kind of just been all my life. Then my rookie year in the NBA, it was a lot different because my body would hurt more. You would hit that rookie wall because you play so many games. You do so much traveling and it’s so much going on. I hit that wall and my body felt horrible.
From there, I started to take care of it toward the end of the season and I started to see the improvements. I started to jump a little bit higher towards the end of the season. Usually, during the end of the season, you have no legs, but I started doing the recovery and started taking it a lot seriously and I saw the improvement.
Since then, I’ve been on it as far as recovery. Even if I’m not hurting, I’m still going to get in the ice tub if I need to. This summer, I added different things because I’ve been learning a lot more. I added the hyperbaric chamber and I get in that two times a week. I’ll get an IV for recovery on my off days, so I’m not just sitting around. I think those things really help my body and help me throughout the week to work even harder.
During the summertime, that is really when you’re supposed to work harder, and I think that’s what I’m doing. Like working extremely hard so I’m putting my body through a lot of stuff. So, I got to recover when needed. I don’t want to be feeling bad when the season starts. You have to be in the best shape because you have 82 games to play. So, I’m heavy on recovery.
How much would you say your diet has changed since entering the league?
I wouldn’t say I’m strict but I’m not eating bad throughout Monday through Saturday. It depends on what my week is like. I can either take the cheat day on Friday or Saturday. Everywhere we go, I try to get a chef. In Costa Rica, I had a chef. I couldn’t get one in Spain because I was at hotel. I also meet different people when I go to those places who know chefs that can come to the spot and cook instead of me going out and eating.
The other day when I was in Portland for the Nike Skills Academy, I ended up hitting [Damian Lillard] and I used his chef for a couple of days, and his food was amazing. Just building those different relationships that can help me throughout the season because it’s been hard to find a chef in Sacramento. I’ve been trying so hard and it’s hard. I’m gonna keep trying. That’s why I usually move around a little bit in the summertime because when I’m in Sacramento, I have to eat out because I don’t cook, and I can’t find a chef. Hopefully, I’ll find one before the season starts but I’m trying to eat the right way. I’m putting vegetables in my body. I never was a big vegetable person, but as I get older, I know that I need greens in my body for me to keep going.
With the league on notice now, how do you guys take another step next season?
Keeping the same mentality and getting better. I think everyone individually is getting better, which is going to help our team get better. We all know what we need to do. We’re not out here working on stuff that we know we’re not going to do in a game. A lot of people play pick up on our team and they play exactly how they play in the game. I think you work on that stuff, and you don’t go out of character. You’re not going to see [Domantas] Sabonis working on pull-up threes. I think that’s what makes our team good because everyone knows their role. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and if everyone is good at their role, then we can come together and be a really good team. I just think that we just need to keep going and have the same mentality of playing for one another, having fun, and playing fast. I can’t wait for the season.
Davion Mitchell Sample Offseason Workout:
Posterior Chain Strength Day: Strengthen Glutes, Hamstrings, Hips and Core
Dead Bug: 2 sets, 12 reps
Reverse Plank holds w/ Physio Ball: 4 sets, 30 seconds each
Lateral Plank Clam Shell: 2 sets, 15 reps (each side)
Workout (Posterior Chain)
1a) Bird Dog Row w/band: 3 sets, 10 reps
1b) Barbell Hip Thrust: 3 sets, 8 reps
(Increase weight each set)
2a) Hamstring Curl: 3 sets, 10 reps
2b) Barbell RDL (barefoot): 3 sets, 8 reps
2c) Explosive Kettlebell Swing: 3 sets, 8 reps
3a) Physio ball Twist: 3 sets, 15 reps (each side)
3b) Palofff Twist: 3 sets, 15 reps (each side)
4) DB Flat Bench Press: 2 sets, 20 reps
5) Skater Squat: 3×8