ORLANDO (ABC4 Sports) – Even though he is only 23 years old, Utah Jazz all-star guard Donovan Mitchell has become the unquestioned leader on the team.
As the Jazz practice inside the NBA bubble in Orlando, Mitchell is working on his leadership skills.
“I’ve kind of honed in to try to be the leader of this team, and going out there and leading these guys anyway I can,” Mitchell said. “I’m just trying to go out there and try to be the voice. At the end of the day, I’m three years in, but I kind of see myself as a little bit more than that. It’s easy to get what I’ve been given at an early age and early in my career, and just chill. But I’ve tried to do the exact opposite.”
Mitchell has worked diligently in his first three years in the league, building a brand known all across the NBA world. But he doesn’t want that to interfere with his development as a player.
“The biggest thing for me is not allowing the name I’ve created on the floor and off the floor to affect the work that I’ve been doing,” Mitchell said. “I’m continuing to work on my game, get better as a teammate, better as a leader, better as a player in so many different ways.”
One of the ways Mitchell is trying to get better is as a passer. Mitchell is known for being scorer, and in fact leads the Jazz this year at 24.2 points per game. But during these past four months, he has really worked on becoming a better distributor.
“Becoming a better passer and a more willing passer,” Mitchell said. “Being able to find my teammates, especially with Bojan being out. We’re going to need guys to kind of pick up the slack. For me, obviously take the shots that I could get, but also being able to find my teammates and getting them easier looks.”
Not playing in front of fans is going to be strange, and we’re going to be able to hear a lot of trash talk on the court. Mitchell says this will be a chance for fans to see what the games are really like.
“You’re just going to get an open gym kind of vibe for a fan experience,” he said. “I don’t know what the NBA has planned for TV, but as far as being in the arena, I think you’re really going to see what guys talk about in an open gym. Honestly, everybody is so worried about the trash talking, but there’s really a lot of just jokes being made on the floor.”
Jazz forward Georges Niang returned from an ankle injury to participate fully in practice on Thursday, and he said the team had fun yesterday on their first day off.
“The pool is open here,” Niang said. “A bunch of us have gone golfing, playing Uno. A lot of guys are video gamers. We have a great comaraderie as a team, so hanging out with each other, it’s like a 112-day road trip.”
The Jazz restart the NBA season in two weeks, July 30th against New Orleans.