With the Utah Jazz heading in a different direction, finding a new home for their franchise cornerstone Donovan Mitchell before training camp became a priority. The Elmsford, New York, native was eventually traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he actually had the complete opposite of a summer that a star rumored to be dealt may encounter. On the brink of 26, his main focus was on himself.
"“Out of all my summer’s in the NBA, that was probably the best summer I had for mental sanity, clarity and just like, health. Like I was really at a place where, because we had lost, I had a bad playoffs, the year was up and down for us and for me, I just came into the summer like, ‘I’m just gonna focus on being the best me I can be.'” Donovan Mitchell on JJ Redick’s The Old Man and The Three."
Despite his 25.7 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds, the former Louisville Cardinal shot under 40 percent from the field and just 20% from three in six games last postseason, proving what many doubters had thought: Mitchell isn’t a number one option. However, through his first seven games in Cleveland, Mitchell’s career as a Cavalier has begun nothing short of spectacular.
Donovan Mitchell has been red-hot since joining the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Donovan Mitchell has put up a screaming 31 points per game with seven assists and four rebounds, shooting 51% from the field and 43% from distance. In Cleveland’s 6-1 start, Mitchell has performed like one of the NBA’s best players. He is averaging career highs in almost every statistical category, including his average of 39.7 minutes a night. The guard also leads the league in clutch points.
What stands out the most, for those who are accustomed to Mitchell’s game, is his elite-caliber playmaking when surrounded by the Cavs’ talent level. Mitchell is averaging over seven assists, recording eight or more in four of their games, including a career-best 12 against the New York Knicks.
Donovan Mitchell has also shown major improvement defensively. Thus far, he has a defensive rating of 105.1, which ranks No. 14 in the league, and it ties his rookie season for the best of his career. Cleveland was already one of last season’s most intriguing surprises, and acquiring a three-time All-Star increased the expectations of many in Cleveland. With Mitchell, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now taking a major step in their process of returning to contention in the post-LeBron James era.
"“I feel like I have something to prove just because of the year I had,” he said. “I didn’t take the leap that I wanted to, that I expected to, so for me it was really just doubling down on that. At the end of the day, I could be in Cleveland, I could be in OKC, I could be in Utah, I could be in New York, where ever, I still had to do the work, I still have to do the work.”"
With an early dominant record, if Mitchell can keep up this electrifying style of play, the league should not be appalled to not only see the Cavaliers contend with the NBA’s best but to see Donovan Mitchell’s name among the upper echelon of players. Specifically, All-NBA or MVP status