By virtue of their 112-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, the Utah Jazz have clinched a second consecutive playoff appearance. It comes after Utah started the season 16-24, only to win 31 of its past 40 games. It’s quite simply one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent NBA history.
Leading the charge is a rookie in Donovan Mitchell who put up 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Sunday’s playoff-clinching win over Los Angeles.
Mitchell is now guaranteed to lead Utah in scoring for the season with just two games remaining until the playoffs start. In this, the rookie joins some rather elite company.
Donovan Mitchell (28-9-8 in W over Lakers to clinch) is the first rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since Carmelo Anthony.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 9, 2018
Anthony led his former Denver Nuggets team to 43 wins and a postseason appearance en route to a first-round playoff exit against Minnesota back in 2003-04.
Right up there with Ben Simmons as a top Rookie of the Year candidate, Mitchell took the baton from the recently departed Gordon Hayward and is now the face of the Jazz’ franchise. Barring some sort of late-season meltdown, the 21-year-old Mitchell will average north of 20 points per game as a rookie.
As it relates to the Jazz, they currently sit as the fourth seed out west and would have home-court advantage in the first round in a hypothetical matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans. Though, all of that will be decided during the final few days of the regular season.