Remember when Shaq criticized and challenged Donovan Mitchell on live television in a postgame interview at the beginning of the year, not believing he was a superstar? Well, as we go deeper into this year’s NBA playoffs, Mitchell is proving himself in every game he has been available and now has the NBA world convinced he is a bonafide superstar. Usually, we hear that “no-one saw this from a no. 13 pick,” but with Donovan, that’s not the case.
“If any word about this workout gets out, you’re fired. Everyone.”Dennis Lindsey, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Utah Jazz
Dennis Lindsey was rewarded handsomely for his dedication to the job as he now sits as the Jazz Vice President for Basketball Operations after two pivotal moves that have led to the team’s success, the hiring of Quin Snyder and the drafting of Donovan Mitchell. Apparently, Lindsey was so captivated by the show that Mitchell had put on in his pre-draft workout with the Jazz that he threatened to fire his staff should there have been a leak regarding the performance of the Louisville standout that day.
Now, this may not have been as pressing of an issue as Lindsey had portrayed it to be given Donovan’s low draft stock leading up to the 2017 NBA draft. Sure everyone had seen what he was able to do at the collegiate level. Still, concerns around his size at the two-guard were well-documented in a time when guys like Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler were proving that anyone at that position had to be an elite two-way player with good size.
At the same time, point guards had taken over the league, with guys like Steph Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Kyrie Irving were becoming the new household names of the league alongside a seasoned veteran in LeBron James. Undersized at the two and deemed unable to play the one, there did not seem to be much fanfare around Mitchell, resulting in Luke Kennard being drafted one spot ahead of him by the Detroit Pistons. Think about that for a moment – a struggling franchise in Detroit thought that Luke Kennard might help resurrect their franchise more than Donovan Mitchell could.
Fast forward to 2021, Donovan is still continuously improving, and whatever doubt pundits and fans had regarding his inability to take his game to a superstar level seems to be his rearview mirror. Not only is he working hard on his game, but Mitchell seems to be a young star eager to learn and pick the brains of the game’s greatest. Now, with Dwyane Wade sitting courtside at Utah Jazz games, giving Donovan pointers, it is starting to become apparent that we have yet to see Mitchell at his full potential and that his best is yet to come.
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