Since his rookie season, Donovan Mitchell has done everything in his power to get the Utah Jazz over the hump. Outside of a first round win over the Oklahoma City Thunder two years ago, he’s come up empty-handed every time. However, that shouldn’t tarnish the 24-year-old’s postseason accomplishments, especially when examining his performance in the 2020 playoffs.
The sixth-seeded Jazz faced the third-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round this year. In the seven-game series, which finished with the Nuggets coming back from a 3-1 deficit, Mitchell averaged 36.3 points per game and became the fourth player in league history to score 50 points twice in a playoff series. Wilt Chamberlain, Allen Iverson, and Michael Jordan (twice) were the only other players with such scoring outbursts. Jamal Murray later became the fifth player to accomplish the feat.
Mitchell played efficient basketball, knocking down 52.9% of his total shots, 51.6% of his three-pointers, and 94.8% of his free throws. Outside of his raw scoring, Mitchell also led the Jazz in total assists. He finished the series with a +38 in box +/-. Unfortunately, a failed buzzer-beater in Game 7 sent the Jazz home, but Mitchell isn’t letting the setback get in his way.
Recently, on ESPN’s The Jump, Mitchell said, “We’re ready for the season to start, next month if it had to. I think we’re fired up, and I think that’s the proper mindset to have.”
It’s good to know the loss isn’t keeping one of the NBA’s brightest young stars down. He’s fired up a ready for next season to get started, “I think for myself and a lot of the guys on the team — all of the guys, I should say, and coaches — we’re ready to go.”
That’s not a façade either. Immediately following Utah’s Game 7 loss, Mitchell spoke confidently to reporters, vowing to get Utah back to the playoffs, “I know what I can do, how hard I’ve worked, how hard this team has worked. This won’t be the end of it. That’s really what’s fueling me. This ain’t the end. This is just the beginning. I’m ready to go hoop again right now. I think we all are. This is just the beginning.”
If Mitchell can carry his postseason scoring into the new league year, we could see some drastic changes in his game. The former 13th overall pick showed signs of All-NBA potential in the bubble. The Jazz hope Mitchell keeps that same energy moving forward.