Jay C. Brandriet
I wrote a piece in February of 2018 titled “The 25 greatest players in Utah Jazz history.”
I ranked Donovan Mitchell as the clubs 18th best player of all time.
I added “his rookie awards won’t mean much long term. This guy is going to the Hall of Fame.”
One buddy responded, “Mitchell should not be on this list.”
I knew where he was coming from. Donovan had played a grand total of 55 games.
Another friend responded, “Hall of Fame? Bold.”
Donovan is rare in this way.
A lot of projecting how good he would become, was based on his interviews.
He’s bright and engaging.
He’s wide eyed and hungry.
His father works with pro athletes.
That’s added to his sons mental skill set, and overall maturity.
On the court?
He’s like a shorter, less physical, better shooting version of Dwyane Wade.
His arsenal of shot making may even surpass the Miami Heat legend someday.
Let’s fast forward to the end of Mitchell’s third pro season.
His Utah Jazz lost in a 7 game series against the Denver Nuggets.
In the final seconds, Mike Conley had a dramatic three-point attempt that rimmed out.
Jazz fans fell to the floor.
Mitchell fell to the floor with them, as this was a crushing defeat.
To make matters worse, Utah had blown a 3-1 series lead.
Some used this as a reason to call out number 45.
Though he kept them afloat, Game 7 was not his best.
It also came with a massive turnover in the clutch.
He had an 8 second violation in game 1, that may have cost the Jazz a W.
Want to hear more truth?
Donovan just became a household name.
He is likely one of the 15 best players on earth right now.
In round one, he was relentless and focused.
Inside a quiet bubble, his team first enthusiasm was loud.
The 57 points he produced in game 1, is the third highest total in NBA playoff history.
His 33, three-point makes are the most ever in a series.
“Spida” became the first player to achieve the following numbers in a post season battle.
35 plus points
FG% 50 plus
3 PT% 50 plus
FT% 90 plus
We understand his job was to win.
NBA players should get more credit and blame for winning and losing than the other team sports.
I thought Denver would take the series in seven games.
Very few people around the country even considered picking Utah.
Let’s put aside the Jazz second leading scorer (Bogdanovic) was out with injury.
Mike Conley missed the first two games for the birth of his son.
Denver was not entirely at full strength either. That’s life.
For those of you taking shots at this Jazz star, let’s keep things in perspective.
Ultimately winning is what will separate the greatest NBA players. Understood.
I’m focused on his personal run to becoming a Hall of Fame caliber player.
What he just accomplished individually, is drastically more positive than any blame should be negative, for his squad losing.
As Donovan was trying to get his head around going home, he said some easy to believe words.
“This is just me scratching the surface. I’m ready to go hoop right now.”
I’m not giving myself credit for noticing obvious talent on television.
After three seasons, Mitchell hasn’t sniffed the stability of greatness yet.
It’s just obvious where this train is headed.
Deeper levels of proof just took place.
The biggest thing this year’s first round told me?
Donovan Mitchell is, who I thought he was.
Jay C. Brandriet