Stephen A. Smith: Donovan Mitchell Best Player In Jazz History
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Stephen A. Smith made a bold proclamation on ESPN’s Get Up this morning. The popular analyst said he believes Donovan Mitchell is the greatest player in Utah Jazz history.
Smith made the statement after the Jazz game two victories over the Los Angeles Clippers, taking a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.
“I don’t want to hear about Karl Malone, I don’t want to hear about John Stockton,” Smith said. “That’s the best player in the history of the Jazz organization right there.”
"I don't wanna hear about Karl Malone, I don't wanna hear about John Stockton. [Donovan Mitchell is] the best player in the history of the Jazz organization."
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) June 11, 2021
Mitchell has been dominant in six playoff appearances for the Jazz this season. The guard is averaging 32.7 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.0 rebound while shooting an eye-opening 48 percent from the floor and 42 percent from the three-point line.
Mitchell’s numbers have been even better against the Clippers, averaging 41 points per game, 4.5 assists, and 3.0 rebound while shooting 52 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three.
“Donovan Mitchell is D-Wade 2.0,” Smith said making the comparison between the Jazz guard and team owner Dwyane Wade. “Donovan Mitchell is a closer, Donovan Mitchell is a superstar. Donovan Mitchell is outplaying both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Not one or the other, both of them.”
While Smith is accurate about Mitchell’s postseason performance this year, is it enough to overtake Malone and Stockton, both of whom have statues that sit in front of the Jazz home arena?
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) June 11, 2021
Malone is a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and scored the second-most points in league history. He’s also a 14-time All-Star, 14-time All-NBA member, a four-time All-Defensive team member, and a Hall of Famer.
Stockton meanwhile is the NBA’s all-time leader in steals and assists, records that will never be broken. The point guard is also a 10-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA member, five-time All-Defensive Team member, and a Hall of Famer.
But does Mitchell have a case to one day become the greatest payer in Jazz history? As of today, he doesn’t have the resume that either Stockton or Malone built over nearly two decades with the team.
However, neither Stockton nor Malone had reached Mitchell’s great heights so soon in their careers. Mitchell’s two playoff series wins are more than Malone had in his first four seasons in the NBA, and the guard did it while leading the team in scoring each of his first four seasons with the team.
Highest PPG in playoff history (min 25 games):
33.4 — Michael Jordan
29.7 — Allen Iverson
29.2 — Kevin Durant
29.1 — Jerry West
28.7 — LeBron James
28.4 — Donovan Mitchell pic.twitter.com/IwHfAzprYI
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 11, 2021
Additionally, Mitchell’s four career 40-point playoff games is tied with Malone, despite playing 164 fewer postseason games than “The Mailman.” Furthermore, Mitchell has the sixth-highest scoring average in NBA postseason history, trailing only Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, and LeBron James all time.
So while Mitchell may not have the career accolades, nor two NBA Finals appearances like Stockton and Malone, he may well be on his path to becoming the greatest player in Jazz history as Smith proclaimed.
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