Zach Lowe: I was talking to someone around the league the other day, and we were just sort of spitballing about players. There’s a lot of people within the league that think Donovan Mitchell is still a bit overrated. And this guy was one of them. We were talking about who would you rather have Devin Booker or Donovan Mitchell. And I think the only skill in which Donovan Mitchell is ahead of Devin Booker is defense and I don’t think he’s ahead by as much as you think he’s ahead of Devin Booker.
For Conley, this latest round of training camp represents a polar opposite from his initial foray in a Utah Jazz uniform. He’s comfortable now. He knows what to expect from his coach, from his teammates, from the front office. It’s no secret that the season hasn’t been easy for him, especially when it came to adapting to a new system for the first time since matriculating from high school to Ohio State. But what seems to have been a painfully long integration now appears to be a thing of the past. “It feels like I’ve played a full season already,” Conley said. “I’ve had a chance to build chemistry with my coaches and with my teammates. I haven’t had any questions about plays or my role. I have a clear picture on what to expect.”

In the meantime, as the Jazz get acclimated to team basketball once again, both Ingles and Mitchell said they’re trying to find ways to settle into a unique situation. “I mean, honestly, for me, it’s like AAU, really. You know, except for the quarantine part. But it’s been like AAU — I’ve been just relaxing, studying film, and just trying to eat as good as I possibly can,” Mitchell said. “… I’m just staying mentally ready, mentally engaged because I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had practice at 6 o’clock every night. It gives you that feeling of an AAU summer camp or a summertime vibe.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
In that story, Gobert said he can be “annoying” when it comes to demanding the ball and that he didn’t blame Mitchell for how he responded after both tested positive for the virus. He admitted there had been issues between the two players in the past — and he wasn’t blameless. “I was very impressed at how open Rudy was; how he owned certain points,” Lindsey said. “There was a real vulnerability and some self-reflection. I’ve just seen some real maturity. You know there are some things that we all have to look at ourselves when we get critiqued and I’m not sure I’m good at that at 51 years old. But I was quite impressed that Rudy at 28 could reflect and share how he’s felt about a number of things.”

There had long been friction between the two, the kind typical with NBA duos, particularly if those star players are relatively early in their careers — and especially in a roller-coaster season such as this one for the Jazz, who have basically played .500 ball aside from a 19-2 run in December and January. One high-ranking Jazz source categorized the pre-pandemic issues between the 28-year-old Gobert and Mitchell, 23, as “a 2 out of 10 on the NBA drama scale.”
“You know, I tried to put myself in his shoes,” Gobert told ESPN. “There was a lot of fear, and I think more than anything, he reacted out of fear. That’s why I don’t really blame him. We all have different character; we all react differently. When it’s something like that, when he tested [positive] for a virus that we don’t know a lot about, it’s scary. It was scary for me, and I’m sure it was scary for him. “The most important thing is what you do from there.”
The Jazz wanted to start virtual team meetings and workouts, but Gobert told teammates in early April that he wouldn’t feel right participating until he had a discussion with Mitchell. A month into the NBA hiatus, Gobert and Mitchell talked. “We told each other what we had to say to each other,” Gobert said. “We are both on the same page. We both want to win. We both think that we have a great opportunity, and we know that we need each other. We talked about a lot of things, but the main thing was that we are on the same page and the fact that our team needs us. We can win together. That’s the most important thing.”
As a smiling Mitchell sneaked up from behind and made some silly sounds, Gobert looked over his left shoulder and delivered a one-liner into the microphone: “Hey, pass the ball, god damn it!” Mitchell, who had 28 points on 21 shots and two assists, laughed and turned toward the tunnel to the Jazz locker room, altering his path to give high-fives to a couple of kids in the courtside seats who were wearing his No. 45 jersey. It was a moment that made many within the Jazz organization uncomfortable. They knew Gobert’s quip contained a lot of truth about his feelings on Mitchell’s passing.
Storyline: Mitchell-Gobert Dynamic
Gobert rarely hesitates to let teammates know if they miss him when he is open around the rim. He’ll occasionally point up during play in animated fashion, sometimes as he is running back on defense, to note that a lob should have been thrown. He’ll often air his gripes verbally, during games and again in film sessions. Mitchell hears it the most, simply because as the Jazz’s go-to guy, he has the ball in his hands the most. That, according to several Jazz sources, has been the primary irritant in an overall successful partnership.