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Get ready for second half Don

Donovan is known to “flip the switch” toward the latter half of the season and his season three point shooting points is a sign of an incoming stretch of MVP-level play

Utah Jazz v Cleveland Cavaliers
Donovan Mitchell sizes up the Cleveland Cavalier defense on his way to a 35 point night
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Donovan Mitchell is having his best season.

On the heels of a 35 point, 3 rebound, 6 assist, 1 steal night on 71.3% true shooting, it’s clear Don’s team impact and balanced game are at career levels.

He’s continued his passing improvement; jumpstarted his focus and energy on defense; and begun to command the team without needing his co-stars on the floor. He’s been truly spectacular.

Despite a tremendous season, there’s some puzzling numbers for him 22 games in, primarily his 3P shooting coming in at a paltry 33.7% after a career year last season.

In fact, a look at the previous two seasons (below) shows Donovan (black dot) above league average (yellow bar) while also being in the upper echelon of total 3FGAs.

NBA three-point landscape
NBA three-point landscape over the past 3 seasons (black dot is Donovan Mitchell, yellow bar is league average 3P%)
Stats thanks to NBA.com | Visual thanks to Adam Bushman, SLC Dunk

While shocking and at first glance discouraging a number, it’s something fans should actually view as encouraging.

We often cite “3Q Don” when his spida-senses get to tingling and he starts going nuclear. Those stretches get the nightly hype, but an equally drastic switch is flipped in the latter half of the season.

Look at how Donovan has turned things on in the latter half of the year throughout his career:

Donovan Mitchell’s per 75 possession numbers before and after the All-Star break
Donovan Mitchell’s per 75 possession numbers before and after the All-Star break during his career (through 2020-21 season)
Stats thanks to NBA.com | Visual thanks to Adam Bushman, SLC Dunk

Given all the wonderful things Mitchell is doing despite some 3P shooting woes, the thought of his long-range stroke coming around prior to his usual ramp up should have fans elated.

At the process has already begun! Over the last 4 games, Mitchell has attempted 36 bombs and is hitting at a 44% clip.

Astute basketball fans may hesitate to buy into such a notion without further context. After all, Donovan could be taking more difficult shots leading to worse efficiency.

A look at Donovan’s frequency and efficiency on catch & shoot and open 3’s will help validate or poke holes in the argument.

Donovan Mitchell’s catch & shoot 3P frequency and efficiency
Donovan Mitchell’s catch & shoot 3P frequency and efficiency since the 2019-20 season
Stats thanks to NBA.com | Visual thanks to Adam Bushman, SLC Dunk

The chart on the left shows that Mitchell is getting more C&S 3P attempts than in seasons past while the chart on the left indicates his accuracy has dipped substantially. This is highly encouraging and we should expect Donovan to be right around 40% by season end.

Donovan Mitchell’s open (defender 4+ feet away) 3P frequency and efficiency
Donovan Mitchell’s open (defender 4+ feet away) 3P frequency and efficiency since the 2019-20 season
Stats thanks to NBA.com | Visual thanks to Adam Bushman, SLC Dunk

A look at Mitchell’s open (4+ feet) 3P attempts is even more drastic. He’s taking a lot this season but it hasn’t (yet) translated to greater efficiency.

A deeper look at this context validates the upswing in 3P% that’s awaiting Don and will likely be the catalyst to a dominant second half. The Jazz will need some next-level play from Donovan Mitchell for the latter half of the season that features a tough schedule.

The good news is he’s regularly been up for the challenge. The better news is, despite phenomenal play thus far, there are clear areas where improvement is imminent.

Get ready for second half Don because the table is set for him to make the next leap to superstardom.