Donovan Mitchell Is Even Surprising Himself
Donovan Mitchell is flourishing in the NBA right now but you would be surprised to find out that he didn’t think this would be all possible. Mitchell finished off a good sophomore season at Louisville averaging 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists but was undecided on whether going into the draft was a good idea. It took Chris Paul and Paul George to convince Mitchell to keep his name in the draft when after a workout they told him how good he was and that he was ready.
In a recent interview with SLAM magazine Mitchell said:
“I worked out this past summer with Paul George and Chris Paul and they were really the ones who convinced me to keep my name in the draft. We had talks and they said, Look, you’re good enough. Just go out there and show it. [The NBA] was a thought, but I didn’t think it would happen this fast. It’s crazy to me that I’m here now.”
The decision proved to be a smart one.
When the Utah Jazz lost Gordon Hayward people wondered where the points would come from and who would take the reigns as the best player on the team. Mitchell has made a strong case as the best player on the team and looks like the team’s leader.
On DraftExpress Mitchell was described as a player that was a good 3-and-D athlete that had developed an off the dribble game. Also, it said that he had a culture changing personality and work ethic. One of the negatives were that he was “a ways away” from being a guy that would be able to run an NBA team. That is where Mitchell has surprised the most.
As a rookie Donovan Mitchell has the 34th highest usage rate in the NBA with 27.6. His biggest competition for Rookie of the Year Award is Ben Simmons and he is 67th in the usage rate stat category. As a rookie Mitchell has a big burden on his shoulder and he has been able to handle it with his smooth shot and surprising passing skills.
His percentage of his shots that are three-pointers are 41.8 percent and he has made 35.6 percent of them. In the games against the Los Angeles Clippers Mitchell showed an ability to pass that is higher than most expected. He regularly found open shooters and got players in position to get easy baskets.
Most recently though he had his best game of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans where he scored a Jazz rookie record high of 41 points. Mitchell became the first rookie to score more than 40 points in a game since Blake Griffin did it in 2011.
Via NBA.com Mitchell said:
''I don't have any words, to be honest,'' Mitchell said. ''I had Jonas (Jerebko) in my ear saying keep taking those shots. Even shots that may not always be good shots, he says keep being aggressive. Coach's saying it. Everybody's saying it.”
Mitchell has the support of his teammates and the coaches. The Pelicans had a four-point lead with 12 minutes left in the game. With games like the one Mitchell just had being the leader of the team will be an earned right gained through resilient play.
Mitchell has been able to take over games for the Jazz and has led the team to a 12-11 record and if the playoffs were to start today the Jazz would still be playing. He is averaging 15.3 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 3.2 assists per game.
Mitchell has already been recognized by NBA veterans. Austin Rivers has high praise for Mitchell saying he is the “best rookie in the NBA excluding Ben Simmons.”
With all the skills, he possesses in terms of passing, shooting and pure athleticism Donovan Mitchell is leading the Jazz after they lost their best player in Hayward. After having doubts about the NBA and where he was headed in life, the future looks bright for him.
Stats and Info Courtesy of Slam Online, NBA.com, Draftexpress, Youtube, Bball Ref