When Rudy Gobert was discarded for a month with a bruise on his right knee on November 11, the Jazz became a late occurrence in the busy Western Conference. What I thought, my thought, at least, was that Utah's strong defense would slip without Gobert to anchor in the middle, and for an already offensively challenged team, that would spell death.
He has not spelled death. The Jazz currently has a five-game winning streak after the win at the Pelicans' home last night. The Pelicans are exactly the kind of team you'd expect to hit poor Jazz sans Gobert, with only Derrick Favors and the delicious Ekpe Udoh for the interior, the big men of New Orleans Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins would vanish, and Utah's punchless offense would be left behind, and that would be it.
Davis and Cousins did not attack: Favors and Udoh are a much better internal defensive tandem than, say, anything the Wizards are capable of building – but, more importantly, the Utah offense was nothing heartbreaking . The Jazz made a loud and crunching blow, and it was called Donovan Mitchell. Man, Mitchell was amazing:
I want you to take a look at Mitchell's chart from the night before, because he looks more and more like him type that is ideal for a star concert in the modern NBA:
Mitchell's distribution of shots as an NBA player is frankly James Hardenian: in the season, he has attempted 245 total shots from the restricted area and from beyond the arch, against only 96 total attempts from the part of the painting of midrange or unrestricted area. This distribution reflects all of the following: that Donovan Mitchell has a great jersey and feels comfortable throwing from Ryan Anderson's range; that he is also a nervous athlete and an explosive jumper who can take the ball to the edge again and again and around the contact in the paint; and that he is disciplined enough to pursue the most valuable shots in basketball while avoiding the less efficient areas of the court.
In the 11 Jazz games since Gobert fell, Mitchell's playing time has increased to approximately 32 minutes per game. Nothing I'm about to show you should come from a rookie player who plays minutes in a team loaded with veterans and offensively offensive: since Gobert's injury, Mitchell is giving Jazz 20 points per game with 58 percent True Shooting, plus 4.5 badists per game, at 28 percent use. It's not a big deal: the thirteenth pick in the NBA 2017 draft is already a high efficiency and high-use scorer of 20 points per game in a playoff team. Ho hum.
Because I've already seen it 97 times, I'd like to talk about Mitchell's move around 3:00 in the third quarter (2:16 in the previous video). He tries to take his defender to a Udoh screen. The defender, E & # 39; Twuan Moore, is launched to overcome the screen, because, at that point, Mitchell had already punished the pelicans by going under the screens dropping a few triples. Mitchell reacts instantly to Moore's onslaught and turns to the center of the court, which is exactly where modern NBA defenses do not want it . Moore is a toast, but look what Mitchell does to Cousins, there: with just one dribble to accelerate, Mitchell is on top of him, and he launches straight into an elegant movement of Eurostep, followed by a magnificent tray. That's expert-level pick-and-roll ball handling. The next time you see Bradley Beal retreat to the middle of the field when his defender fights on a screen like that, I want you to remember Mitchell making thoughtful dribbling moves, incredible footwork and quickness to completely gut the defense of the Pelicans That's what I'll be thinking about, while I'm poking my head in the microwave and frantically pounding all the buttons.
The book on Mitchell as a draft prospect had linked him as a high-end three-and-D kid. DraftExpress compared him to Norman Powell, projected him as a secondary ball controller, and warned against using him as a guard, due to questions about his feel for the game. My friends, last night, in a real NBA game of the regular season, the Jazz made him the main driver of the ball during almost the entire fourth quarter of a closed game against another hopeful tiebreaker, and all he did was score 17. points in the box and deliver a damn victory.
I do not know, man. In the most exciting moments, Mitchell is seen as a man with the terrifying athleticism of Russell Westbrook, plus one of the purest jump shots in the NBA, in addition to the ideal distribution of shots. Many things can go wrong in a player's career, and it is likely that Mitchell will become Larry Hughes and become an All Star. But Elias says that Mitchell is the first rookie to score 40 points in a regular season game since Blake Griffin in 2011. He did not do it when making all of his shots, he did it as the offensive focal point of his team. He did it like the star players in the NBA do, carrying the burden of a star and beating the defense, over and over again, until the job was done.
Mitchell is a weird specimen, and you can tell he spent one night as definitely the best player on the court in a game that included Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. I think it could be a monster.