Donovan Mitchell is quite an interesting character in the Utah Jazz saga this season. Last season he was the rookie hero. With that crazy season comes high expectations this season. So far as a team the Jazz have struggled early. They are currently 2 games below .500 but are looking forward to being home for the holiday season. Hopefully there will be some more home cooking for the Jazz than just the leftover figgy pudding.
Some people might say Donovan Mitchell isn’t clutch. Others say he is being smothered and other teammates need to step up. There are a lot of arguments that can be made for both sides but the bottom line is the Spida is a critical piece to the puzzle that is the Utah Jazz organization.
The Jazz haven’t found all the pieces necessary to win a title yet but they are quickly putting the jigsaw together. Kyle Korver is a nice piece as he spaces the floor and gives a boost off the bench with his smooth three point shooting. All the players are adjusting to the new fast paced NBA and are defending at a high level.
It’s important to really dig down into the stats in clutch situations to show why Donovan is the go-to guy. In the fourth quarter of games he leads the team with an average of 2.3 points per game in the fourth quarter when the score differential is five points or less. That ties him 30th in the NBA in those situations.
So maybe he isn’t the leader in those situations like Oladipo currently is but if you look at the numbers you can see that the Jazz are blowing out teams and also getting blown out. So he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to be clutch. He has never had a buzzer beater in his career yet but he has some had chances and still done clutch things. He made a sick game tying three in his rookie year only to lose in overtime. He recently made game clinching free throws to hold off the Warriors.
He might be having a sophomore slump efficiency wise but so are all the sophomores. He’s doing the best out of all these guys in the clutch. Yes he still makes mistakes but so does LeBron and other superstars in the game. One recent glaring mistake was a turnover dribble off the knee in a critical moment in the last minute against the Warriors. He redeemed himself. Although he was an abysmal 5 for 27 front he field, he had a great block on Klay Thompson and was a big part of the team defense that clamped down.
He did have some non-clutch moments against the Thunder. He had a turnover and missed an open three as part of a cold spell that did not see the Jazz make a three at home in the fourth quarter. He was fouled with the team down two and a chance to tie it with about 2 seconds left. He missed the first and accidentally made the second. Westbrook fouled out so the Jazz likely would have won in overtime had both free throws gone in. Many players made mistakes though. Somehow the refs catch Rubio on a travel for picking up his pivot foot but they miss Harden.
So fear not Jazz! The Jazz are trending up and with a healthy Rudy it looks like they will be better than the 19-28 clip they bottomed out at last year. They will need to because it’s no guarantee that they finish the season on a historic 29-6 clip again.
The Jazz need Mitchell but they don’t need him to be great every game. Let’s remember the new hashtag is #TeamIsEverything and boy is this team banding together. Mitchell had 3 points against the Blazers but the Jazz still won by thirty. As stated last year, the strength of the team is the team and as long as “Playoff Spida” comes to town like he did last season, the Jazz will be able to make a surge the second half of the season with more home games against opposing teams that actually lose more games than they win.
The schedule certainly has affected Donovan and the whole team. Even when they have a home game they have been back out on the road the next day. That will change soon!
Let’s not come to bury Donovan or to praise him. Praise the team first system that is the Utah Jazz.