By: Cam Kelly
If you have been paying any attention to the NBA Summer League or even been following it on twitter you have had to hear of the human highlight reel Donovan Mitchell. As a late lottery pick at number 13 then immediately traded to Utah, Donovan was not talked about as much as players like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, or De’Aaron Fox because those guys were a lot more talented than Donovan during the 2016-2017 NCAA season. After the season, Mitchell was projected to be picked in the 20-21 range; however, quickly gained scouts attention during the combine with a wingspan of 6’10, a combine best standing vertical leap of 36.5, a combine best three quarters court sprint time of 3.01, and a 40.5-inch max vertical leap. He also shot well in all his drills and showed his defensive potential.
Donovan Mitchell is a 6’3 combo guard and played more the 2 than 1 at Louisville. Bill Simmons likes to say be careful of combo guards because that usually means he isn’t good at either guard position however Donovan is an exception due to proving he could play the 1 when Quinten Snider went down last season. With the way Mitchell shoots and plays defense and is a little undersized for his position he has landed comparisons to Avery Bradley which is very fair. A guy that starts his career coming off the bench playing very limited minutes and plays good defense and hits threes, your typical 3 and D guy. However, with the departure of Gordon Hayward to Boston Donovan might have to step up his minutes and grow up a lot faster than everyone thinks. With his hot summer league campaign he has proved maybe he can. Does Donovan really have the potential to be a good NBA player or is he just an occasional twitter highlight? I am here to tell you Donovan is definitely worth all the hype to Quin Snyder and the rest of Utah.
The best asset Donovan brings to the Jazz offensively is his shooting. He shoots the 3 well and even can shoot it deep too. At Louisville Donovan started off the season slow but ended up shooting 35.4% from 3 on 6.6 attempts per game, he shoots 80.6% from the FT line, which are good shooting percentages and should translate to the NBA. He averaged 15.6 PPG in 32.3 minutes per game.
Donovan also has a nice mid-range game he shot 46.3% from 2 and although he does not get talked about a lot is an underrated passer at 2.7 APG at Louisville. He can run the pick and roll very effectively and has shown that this summer league. He can shoot off the dribble just as well as he can catch and shoot. Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, and Joe Ingles, AKA The Goat, should create a lot of shot opportunities for him. Although he is undersized, he has legit NBA athleticism and is a very explosive leaper which he showed at Louisville and his combine numbers I mentioned earlier back that up.
Donovan’s ISO game is effective as he was able to take on Jayson Tatum a couple of times however it is an area he can improve. Donovan is very good at changing speeds which is something every NBA guard should be able to do. Donovan’s biggest deficiency offensively at Louisville was his streaky shooting. Even though in the summer league he has not been hot, probably due to a chip on his shoulder. Along with being streaky, Donovan will also take a lot of shots, often bad shots, which are almost like turnovers in the NBA.
Overall Donovan is a good offensive player he shoots the 3 well and from deep, he is a good mid-range shooter, is an explosive leaper, and is capable of being a playmaker and taking his defender 1 on 1.
Donovan’s defense is what got him drafted and what mainly grabbed the attention of scouts in the combine. Although Donovan is 6’3 he is very quick and has a thick frame weighing at around 211 pounds. His 6’10 wingspan allowed him to be the ACC steals leaders at 2.1 steals per game and 0.5 blocks per game. Donovan is very capable of guarding 1 on 1 but he also is very good at shooting the passing lanes. He recorded 8 steals today against the Grizzlies. With Utah already defensively minded, being anchored by Rudy Gobert, Donovan should earn himself starters minutes on his defense alone. He will be able to guard man to man easily and switch and guard the 1-3 positions. His explosiveness with his leaping ability allows him to grab rebounds easily even though he may be considered undersized. The comparison to Avery Bradley is real, Donovan can guard your best guards, especially when your counterpart is 4’7” but is an efficient enough scorer to stay on the court somehow.
Overall, Donovan actually does legit have a spot in the NBA and can immediately insert himself in the lineup for the Jazz his rookie year. The perfect 3 and D guy. He has really taken the summer league personal and wants to show people why is he underrated. He has shot incredible from deep and guarded very well, while guarding the other teams’ best players, like Tatum. What makes Donovan special is also his intangibles. He has a big basketball heart and plays with a high motor every second he is on the court. He is very vocal and has shown leadership qualities and has shown that this summer. If he keeps this up he will have a very nice career in Utah. My advice to Donovan is to try your best to entertain yourself in Utah because according to the Warriors there is no night life there.
Also, as I was writing this Donovan scored 37 against Memphis, I know it is just summer league but it can’t be a bad sign.