Utah Jazz Rumors
Mitchell averaged more than 21 points per game in each month from December on, consistently excelling as the defensive schemes to stop him became more complicated. The coaches’ crash course for Mitchell, who starts at shooting guard and plays some point guard, has advanced into masters-level classes. “It’s gone from reading his defender and the defender in pick-and-roll to reading the help,” Snyder says after the film session. “It’s deeper — more levels, more things to see.”
Maximizing the attention Mitchell commands is a frequent theme throughout the film session. It’s why Bryant harps so much on sprinting all the way to the corner in transition. It’s why Snyder shows Mitchell a possession on which the rookie never touches the ball but affects the play by circling back to the top of the arc while Rubio probes the baseline — “Nashes,” as Snyder calls it — stretching the defense to create room for Gobert to cut for a dunk. “You’re getting to a point where, because of the way people are playing you, it’s even more important for you to space,” Snyder says as the clip of Gobert’s dunk plays. “Because if you’re not spaced, we don’t get to take advantage of your gravity, right?”
Mitchell draws contact while executing a “goofy-foot finish” — a technique Bryant taught him, catching shot-blockers off-guard with a quick, right-handed scoop while leaping off the right foot. Mitchell listened, learned and executed. “One thing about him is he’s not afraid to try things and really apply it,” Bryant says after the film session. “That’s something that’s rare. A lot of guys want to stay in their comfort zone. He has the ability to go out there and apply it.”
Any time you’re doing something better than Michael Jordan, especially in the playoffs, you’re really doing something. And with 55 points in his first two playoff games, including 28 in a 102-95 Game 2 win over the Thunder on Wednesday, Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell topped Jordan’s record for most points by a guard in his initial two postseason contests.
“So far” implies more to come, and with the Jazz even with Oklahoma City at one game apiece, there’s at least three left to Utah’s — and Mitchell’s — surprising season. “If he was feeling something, he didn’t show it,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of Mitchell. “When he really got aggressive going to the rim, some other things opened up.”