Donovan Mitchell Showing New Maturity On The Floor For Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The adversity Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell faced after the NBA season was suspended in March has developed into a new maturity on the court. Mitchell and Utah Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert became the face of the coronavirus pandemic inside the world of sports. Afterward, Mitchell’s outspoken push for racial equality was met with aggression from a segment of the NBA fanbase.
In the latest episode of the Jazz Notes podcast, Ben Anderson of KSL Sports and Sarah Todd of Deseret News discussing Mitchell’s growth on the court through the first two games of the NBA playoffs, and what to expect from the jazz as Mike Conley returns to the court.
Maturity Paying Dividends for Mitchell and Jazz
Mitchell returned to Utah after the league’s suspension with a louder voice off the court. The fallout between Gobert and Mitchell forced the guard to better establish his position as the vocal leader of the team’s future. As a result, it seems Mitchell’s found a larger voice on the floor as well.
“This maturity was forced on Donovan Mitchell, I don’t think he asked for it,” Anderso said in the podcast. “But I think it’s manifesting itself on the floor and he looks phenomenal. And this is the best basketball he’s ever played.”
Mitchell is averaging 43.5 points per game over the first two games of the NBA playoffs. The guard’s 57 point performance in game one was the third-highest individual scoring output in any NBA playoff game.
Not every player has allowed their maturity off the floor to have such a positive impact on the court according to Todd.
“When you really see them go from a kid in the NBA to being an adult in the NBA, those moments are really interesting,” Todd said. “And they happen in all sorts of different ways. And sometimes it doesn’t turn out as great.”
The league has a long history of players who find success early in their careers, and want too much responsibility leading a team too soon.
“I think that his maturity arc because of the things that he had to go through over the last few months is really turning out nicely,” Todd said.
Mike Conley Returning
The Jazz are anticipating the return of Mike Conley in game three. Conley has been away from the team after the birth of his third child on Sunday. Todd said she expects Conley to have a big impact for the Jazz in game three.
“He’s a proud new father of his third child who came early and unexpectedly, but also fully healthy mom and baby are home,” Todd said. “And so he’s got everything that would make him feel happy and good right now. And with the Jazz coming off a really good win. I fully expect for him to look great in game three.”
Conley has been a strong performer for the Jazz in Orlando and against the Nuggets this season. the guard has averaged over 20 points per game for the Jazz when playing more than 30 minutes in bubble games.
While Conley is expected to return to the Jazz staring lineup, Anderson thinks his biggest impact may come when teamed with the Jazz bench.
“The second unit has been the biggest question mark for the Jazz so far where they come in and blow a double-digit lead,” Anderson said. “So if Mike Conley can come in and keep that level of play really high, or at least, you know, a break, even the Jazz could win this series going away.”
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