About two months ago, I wrote a piece titled “Good things will come from Donovan Mitchell’s commitment to Team USA. In this piece, I laid out the reasons that participating in the FIBA World Cup and playing for Team USA would be beneficial to Donovan Mitchell, despite several other NBA stars dropping out of the roster pool. As the FIBA World Cup comes to a close, it’s time to revisit this subject.
Team USA will finish the FIBA World Cup in either 7th or 8th place, depending on if they win their final consolation game this Saturday. Regardless of the outcome of that game, Team USA is in for their worst ever finish in an international tournament. Despite a heroic effort from Donovan Mitchell through three quarters, Team USA fell to France yesterday morning in an epic battle, and a game that (at this point in time) is the biggest win in the history of France basketball. Watching Mitchell and Team USA go down in the quarterfinals was hard to swallow for American basketball fans, as anything less than a gold medal is a disappointment for Team USA basketball. Despite this disappointment, and the way that the FIBA World Cup has finished, I remain absolutely firm in the same statement made before this tournament began; good things will come from Donovan Mitchell’s commitment to Team USA.
Some have said it was bad for Mitchell to be associated with a team that had the worst finish in USA Basketball history. Some have blamed him for not creating enough offense, or taking too many shots. Some even tried to create some drama between USA players from absolutely nothing, which was quickly called out by Mitchell himself.
Don’t do that... no frustration I slipped a screen he made a play and got fouled don’t try to make this about one person vs the other... tired of y’all trynna just make shit up... https://t.co/tipj4vLxin— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) September 12, 2019
That stuff’s for the birds, man.
Donovan Mitchell grew as a leader during the FIBA World Cup. He was more vocal on the court than I’ve ever seen him be. He was mentioned several times from Team USA executives as being a captain on the squad, and it showed when they played on the court.
When a team found themselves on the ropes against France early on, they looked to Donovan Mitchell to keep them in it, and he did just that. In what looked like a game that Mitchell could break the all-time single-game scoring record for Team USA, things went in a different direction in the final quarter. Despite this, it was incredible to watch Mitchell do Mitchell things on the floor for the whole world to see. Watching him go bonkers in the third quarter is something that I’ll always remember. There’s not a lot of things that can get me hyped at 5:00 in the morning, but this was one of them.
After Team USA’s loss to France yesterday, reporters were asking Donovan Mitchell about the players that withdrew themselves from the roster, and how that factored into their early exit in the tournament. Mitchell’s response, was, well, just like everything else that Mitchell says; perfect.
This is the type of thing a leader says. No excuses, no pointing fingers, just facts straight from the heart.
Rudy Gobert, one of the main reasons that Team USA lost yesterday, said himself that Donovan Mitchell will get better from this.
The end result of the FIBA World Cup was never really a reason that I believed it would be beneficial for Donovan Mitchell. Winning a gold medal obviously would have been amazing, but it doesn’t negate all of this experience that Mitchell has gotten over the last two months.
Unlike a lot of other players on Team USA’s original roster, Mitchell showed up. According to the President of Team USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo, this is something that they will remember when selecting players for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Playing in Tokyo next year would also be an amazing experience for Mitchell.
If you are still concerned that this FIBA experience was negative for Mitchell because of the loss, take a look at the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. Team USA lost not one, not two, but three games that year, finishing with a 5-3 record. They lost by 19 to Puerto Rico and 4 to Lithuania in the group stage, and then Argentina in the semifinals.
This is a team that had guys like Tim Duncan, Stephon Marbury, and Allen Iverson as veteran players, and Lebron James and Dwyane Wade as young guys contributing off the bench. All of these players seemed to make it out okay and have decent careers I woulds say.
Team USA also lost in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup to Greece. Again, their roster included several future HOF’ers in Lebron, Wade, CP3, and Bosh. It just happens sometimes.
Losing an international game in 2019 is obviously not the end of the world. And that’s why we don’t have any reason to worry about this tournament, quite frankly, at all. Now all we have to worry about is whether to cheer for Joe Ingles or Rudy Gobert in the championship, hopefully.
Donovan Mitchell represented his country and the Utah Jazz very well, and made us proud. Gold Medal or not, good things are going to come from this for Donovan Mitchell. For now, this will just need to serve as another dose of motivation and inspiration, of which Mitchell can add to his collection.