There are a number of rookies around the league this year trying to make their presence felt. You’ve got Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers, Ben Simmons of the 76ers (but is he really a rookie? It’s technically his second year), Jayson Tatum of the Celtics, De’Aaron Fox of the Kings; the list goes on. But in Utah, the underestimated rookie Donovan Mitchell is quietly working to prove his worth. The 13th overall 2017 draft pick from Louisville is averaging 11.6 points, 2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game and had himself a night to remember against Lillard and the Trail Blazers. Mitchell scored 28 points, had 6 rebounds, 3 assists and shot 40% from three-point range. Oh, and he did all of this coming off the bench.
Donovan Mitchell came out of Louisville, having played in 65 games (starting in 38) and averaged 11.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Though, it was his sophomore year is what got him noticed: averaged 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and shot 80.6% from the free throw line. All of this along with his aggressive playing style, how could anyone pass on this kid? He wasn’t afraid to drive to the rack and finish strong; and on the defensive side of the ball: he had 70 steals his sophomore year. That’s pretty impressive, so you could understand why he wasn’t happy he fell to 13th overall. But he was able to channel his frustrations into the Summer League, where he averaged 24 points (44% shooting), 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3.7 steals in five games. In one of those games, he had 37 points and an impressive 8 steals.*
There has been inconsistencies in his NBA performance so far, but this is to be expected of a rookie who only had one solid season in college. This kid is out to prove himself, and with time he will continue to improve. The Jazz face Toronto tonight at 9. Don’t sleep on Donovan Mitchell.
*Shout out to SB Nation’s Kaleb Searle for these summer league stats. All other information is from ESPN/ FOX