How Can Donovan Mitchell Become A Superstar?

Feb 13, 2019, 4:42 PM
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts late in the game while playing the Detroit Pistons at ...
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts late in the game while playing the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on January 05, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Utah won the game 110-105. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The last time the Utah Jazz could legitimately say they had bonafide superstars was when John Stockton and Karl Malone were running the pick and roll while going to back-to-back NBA Finals.

Since then, there has not been a single Jazz player come anywhere close to fitting into that superstar category. There are plenty of excuses, rightly or wrongly, by players, fans, agents and more who say that an NBA player cannot be a superstar playing in the small market of Salt Lake City.

There are always these lists that try to predict next great superstars who are young and will eventually replace the current crop of talent LeBron James, James Harden, Steph Curry and others to be the next face of the league.

Donovan Snubbed On List Of Top Players

As usual, the Jazz got zero recognition in having a future NBA great on its roster. It could change because Donovan Mitchell has what it takes to be one of the next great NBA superstars, and KSL’s Unrivaled podcast laid out why Mitchell is not just a young up-and-coming All-Star but he can be more than that.

“When they put a list together of future superstars in the NBA under the age of 25… I say: ‘this my shot chance to see a Utah Jazz man on the list,’“ host Alex Kirry said before getting to the disappointment of no Jazz player being mentioned.

The players on the list included Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson currently of Duke.

“Donovan Mitchell was not listed as one of these potential superstars under the age of 25,” Kirry said. “I was surprised by it. All I could think was this is another slight on the Utah Jazz and another twist on that knife of you not feeling like you are in that spot feeling that you can’t thrive as a superstar.”

On the surface, Donovan not being named as a future elite NBA player could make some sense at this time because he has yet to make an All-Star team in his two years in the league and has not led the Jazz to a deep playoff run. Those things are part of the puzzle to becoming one of those top-tier players, however, it’s important to remember is that this is only his second year in the league.

“We certainly have had superstars here but it has been very few and far between with Karl Malone and John Stockton,” Kirry said of past Jazz and NBA all-time greats. “Those have only been the superstars we have had here, is Donovan Mitchell ever going to be a superstar?”

It is very much possible and Donovan has done it in a great way by first storming into the league by winning the dunk contest as a rookie and then being involved in the All-Star game as one of the up-and-coming stars in each of his first two years.

It Might Be Too Early To Call Donovan A Superstar

Things are in place for Donovan becoming a huge name in the league that everyone who follows the league knows and want to watch.

KSL Unrivaled co-host Scott Mitchell feels Donovan has the personality and big play capability to be great in the league, but he also admits it is early for him to be a league-wide superstar.

“You see [something spectacular] with Donovan Mitchell and I know there are growing pains, and I know there are moments of ‘whatever’ but he just has a play or he has a moment or he takes over a game, and he has that ‘it factor’ and ability to be that superstar player,” Mitchell said.

“Now if we are talking about like being a dominant player in the NBA landscape where he is among a group of players for his generation like James Harden, Steph Curry or some of those players that remains to be seen,” said Mitchell.

Scott brought up Curry as an example where winning titles for the Warriors gives a bump in star status. If Donovan starts leading the Jazz to NBA Finals appearance and championships he will surely get league-wide superstar status even if his numbers are not the best of the best in the league.

Donovan Could Model Lillard

One superstar that Donvan could emulate is Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. He is in a similar situation as Donovan where he is in a smaller market in the Pacific Northwest.

“The blueprint for me if you are Donovan Mitchell is all you do is to watch the game of Damian Lillard who is in a medium-sized market and in a place where they are very much like the Utah Jazz,” Kirry said of how the Jazz can have another superstar.  “Where they say: ‘nobody loves us but us, don’t care? we are going to make our own thing happen here.’

“The Portland Trail Blazers are one of those teams. Unique, in a smaller market and they have this guy Damian Lillard who is one of those overlooked guys somehow, he is an Adidas guy and has own own logo,” said Kirry.

What Donovan does better than Lillard is having flashy dunks that get the crowd excited. Those highlight plays get the attention of NBA fans with big plays and that can suck someone in and have them realize how great of a player he is.

The final verdict of how Donovan can get to the next level is to carry a chip on his shoulder and take it to heart when he does not make an All-Star team or gets snubbed for some league-wide award. He should use those things as motivation to become a better player on the court to show everyone that he should be considered a recognizable superstar in the NBA.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast.

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How Can Donovan Mitchell Become A Superstar?