The Utah Jazz have been cruising so far in this postseason, but a lot of that has to do with Donovan Mitchell, as he’s averaging 32.7 points and 5.3 assists per game thus far in the NBA playoffs, leading the Jazz to all six of their wins.
The only Jazz loss came to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of their first-round series matchup, as Mitchell sat out that game after dealing with a sprained right ankle that costed him his last 16 games of the regular-season.
After the Jazz won a nationally televised game on TNT during the regular-season, Shaquille O’Neal told Mitchell that he didn’t have what it took to take his game to the next level. At that point, Mitchell brushed it off with a simple “aight.”
Mitchell doesn’t care about the outside noise that comes with being a superstar. Rather, he’s locked in on the task at hand night in and night out, and his efforts are finally giving him the respect he deserves.
It has gotten to the point that LeBron James is comparing “Spida” to the 2006 version of Dwyane Wade, as Wade carried the Miami Heat with Shaq by his side to win a championship over the Dallas Mavericks.
If you look at both of their numbers, they’re very similar, but in order for that comparison to fully manifest, he’s going to have to take the Jazz all the way to the Finals and beat whoever stands in their way.
If it’s the Brooklyn Nets, and the Jazz somehow beat them, then you can argue that Mitchell’s postseason run 15 years later is much more impressive.
The Jazz will still have their work cut out for them, however, as they’ll have to finish off the Clippers and get past the winner of the Denver Nuggets/Phoenix Suns series.
The Clippers have just had no answer stopping Mitchell on the drives to the rim. All Mitchell has been needing to do is put the ball on the deck, beat his defenders off the dribble and take it in for nice finishes at the rim.
Additionally, he’s beating his defenders from behind the arc, as once he’s on an island with a defender, he either needs to side step or step back to create just enough space to let it fly.
The Clippers have a wide array of solid defenders to throw at Mitchell, but clearly none of it is working.
Legends are born in the playoffs, and if Mitchell continues to lead the Jazz deep into the playoffs for the many years to come, it might soon be time to put him in the same breath as Karl Malone and John Stockton as the best player in Jazz history.
Stephen A. Smith is already convinced that he is the best player in the proud franchise’s history, but that’s probably more of a hot take than anything. Stockton and Malone led the Jazz to back-to-back Finals appearances in the 90s, as they lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Still, Mitchell’s performances has put him on the map as one of the game’s brightest young superstars, and the best is yet to come for the New York native.