When the Cleveland Cavaliers pushed their chips to the center of the table and traded away Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, four first-round picks, and two first-round pick swaps, it shook up the Eastern Conference in a major way.
While most expected to see “Spida Mitchell” end up in Peter Parker's hometown, as the Knicks had an uber-deep asset pool and have been pursuing a big-time star for years now, Cleveland was able to swoop in, offer up a package that Danny Ainge deemed acceptable, and added a legitimate difference-maker without having to trade away any of their core players or generally impact their 2021-22 rotation save the subtraction of swing forward Markkanen.
With Mitchell now in place as the team's long-term starting shooting guard next to Darius Garland, these new, young Cavs are looking to establish a dynasty of their own without the shadow of LeBron James hanging over the team, even if that specter will never really go away until the “King” hangs up his signature sneakers once and for all, presumably once Bronny and maybe even Bryce are in the league.
Will it be easy? Hardly, the East is in the middle of a renaissance and is only going to get better before it gets worse, but fortunately, Mitchell has extensive experience of putting a franchise on his back and elevating their collective game, so this task may not be as Herculean a challenge as some have assumed. If anything, Mitchell appears eager to take on the challenge, as he detailed in a recent appearance on NBA TV.
"I've made it to the playoffs every year. I haven't gotten to the end goal and that's what I'm looking to do here, the only way for us to do that is to continue to build and get better."
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 26, 2022
Donovan Mitchell has great expectations for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
When asked what he wants to prove as a member of the Cavs by NBA TV, Mitchell let the entire NBA world in the “secret,” which, by his own admission, really isn’t much of a secret at all.
“Honestly, I think the biggest thing is I’m a competitor, man, I’m a winner, I’ve made it to the playoffs every year,” Mitchell responded. “Ultimately, I haven’t gotten to the end goal, but that’s what I’m looking to do here. I think my goals align with our team’s goals, which makes things easier, but for me, it’s no secret that I haven’t won. We didn’t win in Utah, we didn’t get the job done as a group, and now that I’m in Cleveland, that’s the goal. So not just to make the playoffs but to go deep in the playoffs, and like I said, the only way for us to do that, the only way for myself to do that, is we’ve gotta continue to lay the foundation and continue to build and build and get better game by game, week by week, day by day. And ultimately, for us to do that, it starts tomorrow, and you know, I think we’ve done a lot of good things. I’ve done a lot of good things over the summer, going into the summer. I’m healthy, locked in, and preparing, and, you know, I’m excited to see what comes forward.”
Now granted, everyone talks a big game at this point in the NBA calendar year, but after working his way from a mid-first round pick to a Rookie of the Year and then All-Star caliber payer in Utah, it's clear Spida Mitchell isn't opposed to putting in the work to get where he wants to be. After watching the Cavs break through their perceived ceiling in 2021-22 with huge showings from Garland and Evan Mobley, adding a scoring guard like Mitchell may be just what the doctor ordered to establish Cleveland as a playoff stalwart once more.