By Kobe Mosley
Before the season began, making the WNBA All-Star team was not a high priority for Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell. Watching the way she has played this season would make Fever fans think differently.
In the first 18 games of the season, Mitchell is averaging career highs in points per game (18.8), assists (4.1) and free throw percentage (91.0%). She ranks fourth in the league in points per game and fifth in three-pointers made (40). Mitchell also convincingly leads the league in total points (339) and minutes played (591).
It is no surprise Mitchell’s numbers have improved, as the majority of her season averages have been increasing since her rookie year in 2018. When asked about what goes into that constant improvement, she pointed to her training and continual growth within herself.
“I always like to go back to my roots: training with my dad and my brothers back home,” Mitchell said. “But really it’s just about me and flourishing into who I am as a woman and what I’m trying to become.”
Mitchell’s journey to becoming what she envisioned started after a stellar career at Ohio State, when she was drafted second overall by the Fever in the 2018 WNBA Draft. Players on the team with more experience such as Tiffany Mitchell, Shenise Johnson and Candice Dupree all took her under their wing. They helped guide Mitchell not only to the 2018 All-Rookie team, but also gave her advice that proved integral in preparing her for the role she has within the team today.
Now in her fifth season, that role for Mitchell is being the driving force on one of the youngest teams in the league. Indiana has the most rookies on their roster of any team in the league, with six total.
“I have some really great rookies as far as who they are as people,” Mitchell said. “They all are individually different, but collectively, they’ve made me a kid all over again. They’re fun, they’re energetic, they’re authentic in who they are and they bring a lot to the table on and off the floor. I think having them around here has made me embrace my leadership.”
That leadership has been put on full display for the Fever in the form of stellar performances and setting team records.
Mitchell leads the league with 10 games scoring 20 points or more. Putting up big numbers hasn’t meant sacrificing efficiency either, as her field goal percentage ranks 11th among guards (min. 10 FGA per game).
Mitchell has continued to add her name in the Fever record book a few times this season. She has scored the most points in a quarter in team history (19) and is the first Fever player since 2015 to win Eastern Conference Player of the Week. In her 139th career game, she passed Hall-of-Famer Tamika Catchings for the most consecutive games played in team history. Mitchell made it known that breaking that record was special to her.
“Catch(ings) is amazing, I love her so much,” Mitchell said. “I’ll still go back and watch her games all the time. To be in that same conversation with her and all those other greats, I guess it shows I’ve really come a long way.”
The Cincinnati, Ohio native has continued to progress from a young leader on the team to one of the best players in the WNBA. As Mitchell continues to make history and headlines, she hopes to make a few more in Chicago on July 10.
“It would be amazing (to be an All-Star),” Mitchell said.
While she awaits the votes, Mitchell will continue to do what she learned from current teammate Danielle Robinson and focus on what she can control: her work ethic, mentality, walking in her own purpose and staying true to herself.