This kid is good, but no one expected him to be this good.
Through 67 games in his rookie campaign, Donovan Mitchell has exceeded all expectations, leading the charge for the Utah Jazz to the playoffs.
Now the Louisville guard was originally drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the thirteenth overall pick in 2017 but was immediately traded to the Utah Jazz for Trey Lyles. Mitchell wasn’t considered the best point guard going into that draft, that title went back and forth between Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball.
To be exact, seven guards were taken ahead of Mitchell, here are the names and you decide where he should have been drafted:
Markell Fultz, first overall pick (Philadelphia 76ers)
Lonzo Ball, second overall pick (Los Angeles Lakers)
De’Aaron Fox, fifth overall pick (Sacramento Kings)
Frank Ntilikina, eighth overall pick (New York Knicks)
Dennis Smith Jr., ninth overall pick (Dallas Mavericks)
Malik Monk, eleventh overall pick (Charlotte Hornets)
Luke Kennard, twelfth overall pick (Detroit Pistons)
Now, I won’t get into comparisons and pulling out all the metrics and stat lines with these players, that’s for you to decide. But I can tell you that Donovan Mitchell is the next superstar point guard in the NBA.
Coming out of the University of Louisville, Mitchell was touted as an “NBA ready athlete”, as well as an aggressive defender who can produce a lot of steals (2.1 steals in last year) and an above average free-throw shooter (80.6% from the line).
However, just as many prospects before him, no-one knew what his true position to succeed in the NBA would be. He lacked the size to be a true shooting guard at the next level and had trouble finishing in traffic. Mitchell was also not the best of passers in college, he averaged 2.2 assists while averaging 1.3 turnovers. So how would he excel at the next level?
Easy, be great in a category in which most rookies lack the discipline and skills for, DEFENSE.
Mitchell was a dog on the defensive end of the floor, his improvement from year one to year two was on full display on the court and in the box score. Mitchell improved from 0.8 steals with an offensive rating of 105.2 his freshman year to 2.1 steals and a rating of 123.7. Not to mention, Mitchell averaged 4.9 rebounds his final year in college.
His key comparison coming out of college, Toronto Raptor’s Norman Powell, a 3 and D specialist isn’t necessarily a cornerstone piece.
Utah took a gamble and struck gold with this guy.
Night in and night out, Mitchell has proved to not only the Jazz organization but the entire world that he will force to be reckoned with.
Each night there are stellar reviews from players around the league and even some of the stars of earlier decades.
“I’ve played with a lot of good rookies, but this kid is special. … He watches film all the time, he asks questions, and he’s willing to learn.”
JAZZ GUARD RICKY RUBIO, ON DONOVAN MITCHELL…
“The best thing about Donovan is, similar to the rest of our group, there’s a hunger on his part to improve and get better. That enthusiasm and that kind of youthful exuberance is a good thing for our team.”
JAZZ COACH QUIN SNYDER
After losing Gordan Hayward to the Celtics in free agency, the Jazz now has a new and younger star in Donovan Mitchell whose rookie campaign is one for the ages.
As of right now, he is averaging 19.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 34.3 from the three-point line.
Playing in a media market like Utah won’t help fire up the star power like an L.A. or N.Y. market would, but fortunately, enough people have noticed and realized how good this kid really is.
As of now, there are only two rookies who are fighting for the ROTY award, one being Ben Simmons who is technically a rookie since he did not play all of last season. The other is Donovan Mitchell. Ahead of his time and ahead of the learning curve, this kid is oozing star potential.
Just look at his onslaught against the Phoenix Suns:
Or take a look at his monster game against the New Orleans Pelicans
The footage and the stats are all there, now it’s for you to decide if he is.