Entering the 2017 NBA Draft Thursday night, there were some rumors that the Utah Jazz wanted to trade up in hopes of landing an impact player. With the Denver Nuggets on the clock with the 13th pick, it was reported that they would be trading the pick to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz seized this opportunity, and selected Donovan Mitchell from the University of Louisville.
Trading up in the draft is always an exciting move; but as the Jazz know, sometimes it doesn’t pan out in an ideal manner (see Trey Burke, 2013).With that in mind, what can the Utah Jazz organization, coaches, and fans expect from Donovan Mitchell? Here is what to expect from the 20-year old from Greenwhich, Connecticut.
In what may seem extremely unfamiliar to the Utah Jazz, Donovan Mitchell can provide a sense of flash and play-making with his skill set. The Jazz have grown accustomed to the “slow and steady” play style of guys like Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles, but there is nothing “slow and steady” about Donovan Mitchell.
Mitchell plays the game with extreme explosiveness and burst. He clocked the fastest 3⁄4 court sprint at the NBA combine, and this speed displays itself in his transition game and acceleration to the hoop.
He is an extremely fluid dribbler and runner, which helps him get to the rim with ease in fast-break scenarios, as well as iso situations.
Mitchell also possesses strong leaping ability, and can dazzle the crowd with high-flying dunks and alley-oops. These types of plays can be kick-starters and spark a team to get going, which will be extremely useful for the Jazz. Mitchell may need to talk to Joe Ingles and make sure he knows that Gordon Hayward is no longer the only one on the team that can catch a back-door alley-oop. Here are a few more dunkalicious Donovan Mitchell clips:
Hot (Cold) Shooting
The Jazz selected Donovan Mitchell because he is a perfect “Three and D” prospect. Mitchell can shoot the three-ball effectively, but will need to work on consistency in his shooting and rhythm. Mitchell shot just under 33 percent from behind the arch in college, which isn’t great, but isn’t terrible. He improved his shooting from his Freshman to Sophomore year, increasing his 3PM by 62 (!!) over a year period.
In his 2016-2017 season, Mitchell had five games where he made five or more three-point shots. In those games, he shot a scorching 67 percent from downtown. What this means is that when Mitchell gets going, HE GET’S GOING. However, Mitchell also showed some streaky tendencies having games where he shot 2-9, 2-10, 2-7, and 1-8 from three. If he can’t get his consistency ironed out, Jazz fans may have to get used to inconsistent/streaky shooting, similar to Rodney Hood.
As an seemingly undersized two-guard defender, Mitchell possesses strong defensive ability and characteristics. Although he is only 6-3, his wingspan reaches 6-10, which is almost a prerequisite from great defenders. Mitchell can use this length to aid in his versatility as a defender, debilitating wings and racking up steals. He posted seven steals in a game vs. Old Dominion University, and totaled 70 steals for the year, which was tied for 15th in the nation.
Mitchell can be the “Three and D” wing that the Jazz need in their rotation. He has the ability to be a lock-down defender who can take on the opposing team’s best offensive player. A lineup sporting Dante Exum, Donovan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert on the floor at the same time is enough to make opposing offenses shrivel in fear of length and athleticism.
While some may see Mitchell’s lack of a true position a weakness, it can also be seen as a strength. Much like Dante Exum, Mitchell falls in the gap between a pass-first, distributing point guard and a 6-6 combo guard that is common in today’s NBA. Mitchell will most likely see minutes as a two-guard hybrid, unless Quin Snyder and the coaching staff want to mold him into a true point guard and develop his ability as a distributor.
This flexibility in position should allow Snyder to pair him with multiple lineups and players, including both point guards and shooting guards. Depending on what happens with George Hill in free-agency, Mitchell may see a larger role come time for the season to begin.
Jazz fans should be excited for what’s to come in Donovan Mitchell. All signs point to Mitchell being a strong impact player who can immediately help the Jazz as a rookie. Whether it is with his versatile defense or a high-flying alley-oop, Mitchell should become a fan-favorite fairly quickly with the energy he brings to the floor. Here’s to hoping that this trade-up turns out better than the last, and that Donovan Mitchell turns out to be a great player for the Utah Jazz for years to come.