Donovan Mitchell Ready to Write a New Chapter for the Jazz

August 7th, 2017 | by Julia Mecham

NBAE / Getty Images via utahjazz.com

 

This summer, Jazz fans endured an Independence Day full of plot twists and posturing to rival the 1996 blockbuster of the same name. While it wasn’t completely apocalyptic, the aftershock of “The (In)decision” wounded plenty of hearts in its wake. Some fans professed they wouldn’t miss a certain someone’s 21.9 points per game with resident extraterrestrial and newly crowned king of Jazz land, Rudy Gobert, now in command. But, like any good heartbroken sap, many fans were on the rebound and in search of a fresh face worth celebrating. Enter Donovan Mitchell.

What an entrance it was.  After learning he had been traded to the Jazz by the Denver Nuggets on draft night, Mitchell punctuated his excitement with a fist pump. For all of Salt Lake City’s nightlife offerings, I’m almost certain this enthusiastic post-trade-to-Utah gesture is unprecedented.  The long tenure of Jazz greats John Stockton and Karl Malone may have spoiled Jazz fans into taking no-nonsense loyalty for granted. Mitchell has already hinted at the possibility of that kind of allegiance early in his brief career.

Momma get settled in we’re gonna be here a while ❤️

A post shared by Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) on

If his summer league performance is any indication of future value, it looks like he’s worth keeping around. Yes, it’s only summer league and time will tell how he holds up against tougher competition, but Mitchell put on a show. Count me among the inspired as Mitchell jumped the passing lane against the Sixers and saved the ball by flinging it around his back to Dante Exum for a dunk.

The Jazz were up 18 with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Philadelphia surged to a one point deficit with under a minute to go in the game. The most reassuring moment unfolded as Mitchell asked for the ball with the game on the line and calmly sunk a fifteen foot pull-up jumper to put things nearly out of reach for the 76ers.

He persisted with that level of confident leadership throughout the summer league tournaments, going toe-to-toe with his other highly-touted draft classmates, Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum. Mitchell averaged 15.3 points per game and 3.3 steals per game in Utah. He put up a summer league high 37 points against the Memphis Grizzlies and averaged 28 points per game and a whopping 6 steals per game in Las Vegas. Granted, he hoisted an average of 25 field goal attempts per game in Vegas to get those kind of numbers, but he impressed nonetheless. Former Jazz man Trevor Booker and King Rudy himself both concur.

What may even hold more weight than Rudy Gobert’s public endorsement of Mitchell for the Jazz faithful is Mitchell’s public study of Utah legends Coach Jerry Sloan, John Stockton and Karl Malone. It’s possible that Mitchell, alongside Joe Ingles and Gobert, may collectively be writing a “How to Win Over Jazz Fans for Dummies” manual this summer.

Page one: Stockton and Sloan are indeed the GOAT, the most deifying emoji on the keyboard, and Mitchell recognizes game appropriately here to Jazz Nation’s delight.

Page two: Dust off the most iconic moment in franchise history from the Hardwood Classics bin. I still get the chills every time I watch our boys in the mountain logo sink the Rockets in such dramatic fashion. Mitchell’s nod to the Jazz legacy is a nod to longtime Jazz fans.

Page three: Get snubbed and be a little salty about it. Jazz fans love Rudy for constantly feeling disrespected and competing more fiercely because of it. It looks like we may have another competitor among our ranks. After somehow being excluded from the summer league all-star team, Mitchell tweeted this:

Which led Joe Ingles to tweet in his vote for Rookie of the Year in solidarity:

Which leads us to page four: Become friends with Joe Ingles. I know what you’re thinking. You’re remembering how this ended last time. But somebody has to bear the brunt of the jokes these days, and who better than a competitive, good-natured rookie? Jingles gives the fans what they want. Banter away, Mitchell.

Page five: Convince Quin Snyder to give you quality playing time as a rookie by giving the opposing team all the lockdown defense they can handle. He’s still working on this page, but I think it’s a real possibility. Mitchell may not have the immediate impact of other rookies because of the depth of this Jazz team, but I think he may surprise us.

Just a couple months in Donovan Mitchell is setting himself up to be a fan favorite. With all the love he’s dishing out Jazz fans will be blocking the exits. He can stay as long as he likes.

Julia Mecham

Julia Mecham

Julia Mecham is a lifelong Jazz fan who, after not making the NBA herself, became a guitar teacher. She also moonlights as a wedding singer, but often risks her profession by cheering too loudly for the Jazz. You can follow her internet voice on Twitter @Julia_Mecham.
Julia Mecham

3 Comments

  1. John Jenkins says:

    We all hope his hype is founded on really solid rock. He shows the effort and I believe the intelligence to become a regular on the floor. If he replaces 1/4 th of Hayward’s points he will be a find.

  2. IDJazzman says:

    I’m hyped on Donovan also. Most everything that I can see he displayed in Summer League translates to the NBA. He’s got an extremely strong body, athleticism and he’s fast, really fast with quickness, quickness that we haven’t seen since the Stockton days. The interesting part with this kid, he really hasn’t played that much basketball in his life, yet he is at this level, already. I know he has issues with shooting, but watching him, his form and release are perfect. As he gains more experience, his shot will start to drop at a higher percentage. Him and Gobert could be the future Stockton and Malone for the Jazz, but with a different game.
    The only thing I wished the Jazz could’ve done, was moved up a couple of more spots and have grabbed Kyle Kuzma instead of Bradley, but they still did well.

  3. Paul Johnson says:

    Maybe it’s an unfair comparison at this stage of his career, but Mitchell reminds me of Dwayne Wade.

    Gordon who?

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