The Leopard

Is Donovan Mitchell ready to prove himself as an elite player?

SALT+LAKE+CITY%2C+UT+-+MAY+06%3A+Donovan+Mitchell+%2345+of+the+Utah+Jazz+reacts+to+his+basket+in+the+second+half+during+Game+Four+of+Round+Two+of+the+2018+NBA+Playoffs+against+the+Houston+Rockets+at+Vivint+Smart+Home+Arena+on+May+6%2C+2018+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah.+The+Rockets+beat+the+Jazz+100-87.++NOTE+TO+USER%3A+User+expressly+acknowledges+and+agrees+that%2C+by+downloading+and+or+using+this+photograph%2C+User+is+consenting+to+the+terms+and+conditions+of+the+Getty+Images+License+Agreement.+%28Photo+by+Gene+Sweeney+Jr.%2FGetty+Images%29
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 06: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts to his basket in the second half during Game Four of Round Two of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 6, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Rockets beat the Jazz 100-87.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 06: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts to his basket in the second half during Game Four of Round Two of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 6, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Rockets beat the Jazz 100-87. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

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SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 06: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts to his basket in the second half during Game Four of Round Two of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 6, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Rockets beat the Jazz 100-87. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

Cayden Young, Sports Writer

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Donovan Mitchell had nothing short of a spectacular season in 2017-18. His season was filled with jaw dropping highlights, heartwarming moments, and growth.
“Donovan Mitchell had an absolutely phenomenal rookie campaign.” That’s what Frank Urbina of Def Pen Sports had to say about his season, and these words are backed up by Donovan’s stats. He averaged 20 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Before getting drafted thirteenth being pick by the Utah Jazz, He spent two years at the University of Louisville under first ballot coach Rick Patinio. His freshman season was nothing special, only averaging about 7 points, 2 assists, and 1 rebound. He made big improvements in his sophomore year – worked on his eating habits, exercise routines, and became an entirely different athlete. He more than doubled his average in points, improved to 3 rebounds a game, while adding an impressive 2 steals a game. This season really helped him get his name in the draft conversation.
That summer, he was undeclared for the draft while he was working out. He worked out with teams and traveled to train with professional athletes. While doing all of this, he still didn’t know if he wanted to declare for the draft or stay in college for his junior year. With that decision in mind he had to pay for all of his work outs, traveling expenses, and gear, to make sure he would still be eligible to be a NCAA athlete. After a workout with Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets, Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and several other NBA players, Chris and Paul for came to him and told him he was ready and that he should forego his junior year and enter the draft. With the support of his peers and family, he finally decided to enter the draft and live out the dream of becoming an NBA player.
The Jazz traded up in the draft to select him with the thirteenth pick and have never looked back since. These performances were unheard of from rookies who didn’t truly dominate at the collegiate level. He put fans in awe with his performances of 40 points in multiple games, breaking the record for three pointers made by a rookie, winning the slam dunk contest during all-star weekend, and leading the team to the second round of the playoffs.
With the spectacular season behind him, we are left with one question. Is Donovan Mitchell ready to make the superstar leap and prove himself as an elite player? Or is he going to be a one season wonder that becomes irrelevant in his coming years?
An example of a player that had a great rookie season to become a player that no one really pays much attention to is Michael Carter-Williams. He was sensational in his rookie year. He was an important part of the 76ers offense, averaging 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. He won rookie of the year and people were comparing him to Chris Paul for his ball handling abilities and for being the leader that he was. But in most recent years he has been a below average basketball player, bouncing around the league from team to team. People were hyping him up so much and expected him to become a top ten player in the NBA. But as we know, he didn’t live up to the hype and failed to perform at an efficient rate.
Back to Donovan; he’s worked very hard this off season to improve as a player. “Donovan Mitchell put emphasis on changing paces on the court, so he can thwart double teams and find teammates like Gobert for easy shots around the basket.” (ESPN). Obviously he has the potential to be a top ten player in the league, he could even be a top three player if things go his way. “I think Donovan Mitchell obviously has huge upside as well, and he was arguably a top-10 player in the postseason last spring.” (Brian Windhorst) There are so many things that come into deciding the fate of a player’s career. Injuries, being a wrong fit on a team, and personal issues can all contribute the downfall of a professional athlete. But the way things are going for Donovan Mitchell, he should have no problem improving and becoming an elite player in the NBA.

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