When Gordon Hayward left in the 2017 NBA free agency to sign with the Boston Celtics, most people thought that the Utah Jazz were headed into an inevitable rebuild. Luckily, the departure of Hayward signaled the rise of another player, Donovan Mitchell, who is expected to lead the Jazz back to title contention. Mitchell, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, immediately became one of the best players in Utah from the time he set foot in the NBA.
Donovan Mitchell may just be in his sophomore year, but he has already shown his capability to turn the Jazz into a legitimate playoff contender in the deep Western Conference. This season, the 22-year-old shooting guard is averaging 23.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.4 steals on 43.1 percent shooting from the field and 35.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc. In a recent interview with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Mitchell said that he’s well aware that opposing teams are giving more attention to him on the defensive end of the floor.
“What really took me by surprise was how much attention I was being paid on opposing teams’ scouting reports. It’s one thing to hear to it. Everyone says, ‘It’s going to be different! It’s going to be different!’ But it’s one thing to hear it, it’s another thing to go through it.”
Donovan Mitchell admitted that he never thought that he would be in his current position. During his high school and college days, Mitchell revealed that he used to be the underdog and the guy nobody knows about. However, Mitchell knew that he needs to quickly adjust and become more comfortable with the role in order to help the Jazz accomplish their main goal.
Donovan Mitchell and Naja Brooks didn't always fit in in the wealthy Greenwich Country Day School scene. Back then, the Mitchells relied on Brooks and her family. Yesterday, Donovan was able to pay them back. The story on @sltrib: https://t.co/FZcVN9lPtr
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) March 22, 2019
In his interview with Kennedy, Donovan Mitchell also talked about the Jazz’s capability to sign quality players in the free agency market. Mitchell is confident that Jazz will be an attractive destination for free agents because of their chemistry and the culture that they have built in the past years. With the good relationship he has created with several NBA players, Mitchell thinks he can be the Jazz’s main free-agent recruiter.
“For sure, I definitely think I can. It’s not just a single person [who I can recruit], it’s the fact that I know a lot of guys throughout the league. I think that will definitely help [our free-agency pitch]. I think we’re in a position where we can bring guys in.”
The 2019 NBA free agency class will be loaded with numerous superstars including Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, and DeMarcus Cousins. Though the Jazz don’t have the salary cap space to offer a max contract, it’s intriguing to see if Donovan Mitchell is capable of recruiting one of those incoming free agent superstars to Utah next summer.