To say Donovan Mitchell has been successful in his first year in the NBA is understatement. He, along with former Ute Kyle Kuzma are in the running for biggest steals of the NBA Draft. There are many reasons that Mitchell could become the first Jazz player to win Rookie of the Year since Darrell Griffith did in 1980. Here are a few:
1. He is already better than Gordon Hayward was last year: Gordon Hayward had a forty point game and had a very consistent averages of over 20 points per game. When he decided to go to Boston many Jazz fans probably thought the season was over. Losses of other key players such as Boris Diaw and George Hill had the Jazz doomed by most to be a lottery team.
While the Jazz would be a lottery team if the season ended today, their schedule in December was harder than any month of any NBA team this season and they managed to beat a few good teams. Mitchell’s career scoring high is 41. Gordon Hayward’s career high since 2010 was 40 points last year. The Jazz will ride the shoulders of Mitchell this year to the playoff hunt with a winning percentage of around .500.
2. He is already good enough to be in the dunk contest: We’ve already seen a couple of ESPN Top 10 Plays featuring Mitchell dunking over defenders and throwing down ferocious hammers. The last Jazz player to win the Dunk Contest was Jeremy Evans. He was known as “The Human Pogo Stick” for his high jumping abilities but didn’t see a lot of playing time. It would definitely be a good sight to behold if a player sporting the Jazz note logo were to take home the Dunk Contest trophy.
3. He is the top rookie in scoring AND he plays defense: Scoring tends to be an important part of any NBA individual award but few high scorers waste energy in a foreign concept to the NBA known as defense. Donovan Mitchell averages 18.2 points per game which leads second leading rookie scorer Kyle Kuzma who is averaging 17.7 points per game. Donovan brings an energy seen by very few players in the NBA. He always has a smile on his face but that shouldn’t fool anyone. He will guard the other team’s best player like he is their shadow. He is the only rookie man enough to match LeBron toe to toe and spoil his birthday.
It is a new year and while Mitchell has already surpassed his expectations in 2017, he definitely has one big goal in 2018: Rookie Of the Year.