After a stellar rookie campaign wherein he came very close to taking Rookie of the Year honors, much was expected from Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell entering his second year in the league. The 22-year-old certainly did not disappoint, as he came out hot off the gates and would never look back. It was as if he was playing with a bit of a chip off his shoulders, out to prove that he is every bit as good — if not better — than last season’s ROY winner Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nonetheless, this was merely just one of Mitchell’s motivations coming into the season, as he also wanted to show the whole world that he is more than capable of putting the fate of a playoff-bound Jazz team on his broad shoulders. And to some extent, the former 13th overall pick certainly lived up to the expectations. Below we have five of his best performances from an outstanding sophomore year.
at Memphis Grizzlies (Mar 8, 2019)
Let’s start things off with Mitchell’s gem from March 8, when the Jazz were visiting the Memphis Grizzlies. The All-Rookie team member torched the Grizzlies with 38 points (on 12-of-24 shooting), five three-pointers, four rebounds, five assists, and a block in 39 minutes of action.
This would, however, be in a losing effort, as it was Memphis who would come out on top, 114-104, in spite of Mitchell’s heroic effort.
vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Mar 2, 2019)
The Jazz were scheduled to face the Milwaukee Bucks just twice last season, and following a 114-102 defeat in Milwaukee in early January, Mitchell and company had a score to settle when the Bucks came to town in March. A that point, not only were Milwaukee the top team in the East, but also, Giannis Antetokoumpo was already the heavy favorite to lift the MVP title at the end of the season.
Mitchell knew that he had to step up his game against one of the best players in the league, and step up he certainly did. The 6-foot-3 Jazz shooting guard matched Giannis’ astounding 43-point, 14-rebound, eight-assist outing by turning in a wonderful performance himself. Mitchell logged a season-high 46 points (on 15-of-32 shooting), five three-pointers, three rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a block, as he led his team to a meaningful 115-111 victory against the Bucks.
at Houston Rockets (Oct 24, 2018)
Talking about MVPs, it was a another noteworthy occasion for Mitchell and the Jazz when reigning Most Valuable Player winner James Harden and his Houston Rockets were hosting them in an early-season matchup between these two Western Conference powerhouse teams.
Harden picked up where he had left off in the previous season, logging a team-high 29 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. Not to be outdone, Mitchell would come out with one of his best performances of the year, as he matched up with the best shooting guard in the game today. Donovan would have the last laugh, putting up 38 big points on 14-of-25 shooting, along with four treys, five rebounds, and seven assists, en route to a 100-89 away victory for the Jazz.
vs. Houston Rockets (Apr 22, 2019 – Western Conference Playoffs First Round, Game 4)
As it would be, the Jazz would actually face off against a fourth-seeded Rockets side in the first round of the playoffs. Utah were overmatched throughout the series, as Houston would make easy work of them, coming away with the series victory, 4-1.
However, Mitchell and the Jazz would not go down without a fight, and they made sure that they would secure at least one victory in the series. This would come in the form of a Game 4 win, as Mitchell would come out with his best performance in the entire series, logging 31 points, three three-pointers, seven rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a memorable fourth quarter takeover, as he led Utah to a lopsided 107-91 home victory.
vs. Denver Nuggets (Apr 9, 2019)
The Denver Nuggets were one of the best teams in the league for the better part of last season, so when they came to town, Mitchell knew what was at stake. This was the fourth meeting of the season between these two squads, with the Jazz holding a 2-1 advantage.
This was actually Utah’s second to the last game of the season, and it would end up being Micthell’s final game, with head coach Quin Snyder opting to rest his main man for his team’s final game of the season the following evening. Nevertheless, Mitchell did not seem to care what part of the season they were in, as he still went out guns blazing. The former University of Louisville standout would end up scoring a season-high 46 points (on 14-of-26 from the floor), along with five treys, seven rebounds, four assists, and a couple of steals in 36 minutes of action.
The Jazz emerged victorious in this one, 118-108.
The crazy part about all this is the fact that Mitchell is just going to be 23 in the coming season, and it doesn’t seem like he’s already reached his peak. The sky is definitely the limit for this high-flying youngster, and we’re definitely buckled in to enjoy the ride.