It was back on Monday that Utah Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell dropped 57 points in a Game 1 loss to the Denver Nuggets. This represented the third-best scoring output in modern NBA Playoff history.
While it was not enough for Utah to come out on top over the heavily-favored Nuggets, it certainly seemed to be a harbinger of things to come.
Mitchell was back at it Wednesday during Game 2 of the playoff series. After dropping six points in the first half, the All-Star guard put up a resounding 21 points in the third quarter alone en route to helping Utah outscore Denver by 14 in the stanza.
Mitchell was also out there reminding us of Jazz great John Stockton.
By the time the clock struck zero at Disney World Wednesday evening, Mitchell had helped his Jazz to a 124-105 win by dropping 30 on 10-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-7 from three-point range. It was a rebound performance for the team as a whole and reminded us of how well Utah was playing before the season was suspended back on March 11.
Significance of Donovan Mitchell’s ascension to superstardom
A top-13 pick out of Louisville back in 2017, Mitchell entered the NBA as pretty much nothing more than an athlete. Skeptics concluded that he had ways to go before turning into a well-rounded player. As they typically are, said skeptics were completely wrong.
Mitchell averaged 20.5 points as a rookie and made history in his fist playoff series, besting the likes of Michael Jordan in the process. Then just 21-year-old, it became apparent that Mitchell was set to become the face of the Jazz franchise. He followed this rookie campaign up by averaging 23.8 points en route to leading Utah to 50 wins as a sophomore.
However, everything seems to be clicking even more right now. Utah finished up the pre-suspended portion of its schedule boasting a 28-12 record in its final 40 games. Everything seemed to be coming together for the Jazz.
Then it happened…
Back on March 11, Utah’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed. The scene in Oklahoma was eerie as fans were told to leave the stadium. Within minutes, reports came trickling in that Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
Like clockwork, everything Utah had worked for over the past couple months came to an end. It was replaced by this new reality of the pandemic. Mitchell would test positive for the virus one day later, leading to speculation that his relationship with Gobert was irreparable.
In the five-plus months that the season was suspended, reports continued to trickle in that the two couldn’t coexist. Mitchell himself quieted that in quick fashion early in July.
“Right now, we’re good. We’re going out there ready to hoop,” the star guard said. “I think the biggest thing that kind of sucked was that it took away from the guys on the team, took away from what the guys on the team were trying to do.”
The level of maturity this displayed from Mitchell was something else. It was right then that the Jazz knew they had a true leader.
Less than two months later, Mitchell is taking to the biggest stage that the NBA has to offer and is doing his talking on the court. Much like Devin Booker before him, it’s becoming readily apparent that this young guard is now one of the young faces of the Association.