There are a few stand-out names as we close out this season’s NBA Summer League: De’Aaron Fox,
Jayson Tatum, Dennis Smith Jr. Bam Adebayo, and of course, everyone is still intrigued by Lonzo Ball …
or maybe it’s his father … I can’t remember. I feel like I have been hypnotized by a whirlwind of flashing lights and “BBB” slight-of-hand-like spirit fingers. So much so that I am not even sure if what I am seeing is real anymore.
Above The Rim But Under The Radar
“I’ve always been the underdog. The one that’s kinda like … in the mix, but not really looked at
and I enjoy that.” – Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell may be a bit over-shadowed by the above-mentioned names but there isn’t another backcourt guy who played quite like Mitchell in the Vegas Summer League. In a league where defense is rapidly disappearing, Devin Mitchell was all over the passing lanes, racking up 8 steals in his showing against the Memphis Grizzlies. He didn’t shake out too shabby on the offensive side of the ball either, knocking down 37 points for the Jazz in that very same overtime loss to Memphis.
There is quite a bit of chaos when it comes to Summer League play. With the very limited amount of time to work together, the players don’t know each other very well. This leads to confusion on the court. To the point where there are many more teammate collisions than normal. You saw guys like Jayson Tatum and
Lonzo playing while their teams were off balance and it just didn’t matter they still shine. Tatum taking an off-balance shot while caught in the fray and it falls … because he has the touch.
What impressed me about Mitchell is that he didn’t need to take those awkward shots. He was finding the screens to move behind and shoot with fluidity. Yes, he has the touch too, but he was reading the court brilliantly. Everything from aggressively driving to the hole to draw the defense in and then kicks the ball back out to an open teammate, to quick turn-around mid-range jumpers and deep, deep threes. He knew the plays and how to move in, out and around his fellow players.
Two Steps Back But A Leap Forward
The Jazz lost a huge chunk of their firepower this offseason. Forward, Gordon Hayward and Point Guard,
George Hill both hit the bricks and headed for towns that have been above 3.2%. But the outlook of rebuilding for the alcohol deficient, Salt Lake City might not be so bad after all. If Donovan Mitchell continues to build off this NBA Summer League performance, he could turn into a franchise player that along with Rudy Gobert, GM Dennis Lindsey can build upon.
The nay-sayers already discounting the Utah Jazz’s playoff chances may need to rethink their ways. The tenacity of a player like Donovan Mitchell makes for interestingly competitive games, even when outmatched by superior talent.
“The 2017-18 #NBA Rookie of the Year is going to be a two-way race between Dennis Smith
Jr and Donovan Mitchell #NBASummer #NBATV “- @Willieee, Tweeter
Long Shots For Sure
The Jazz are +4000 to win the Western Conference and +6600 to win it all. The Oddsmakers aren’t too high on the Jazz making a run through the playoffs anytime soon, at least not with Golden State stacked as they are—Intertops Review shows how competitive their odds can be if you’re looking for some action.
The real question is, will Utah be able to repeat another 51-win season? It’s too early to say, but if
Mitchell assimilates like many of us expect, they will surely be in the hunt for one of those final playoffs spots.