SALT LAKE CIT (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz have won 16 out of its last 17 games, and own the NBA’s best record at 20-5, which matches the best start in franchise history.
While it has been a total team effort, Donovan Mitchell may be playing the best all-around basketball of his career right now.
With starting point guard Mike Conley out with an injured hamstring, Mitchell had a season-high 36 points to go along with nine assists in the Jazz 122-108 victory over the Boston Celtics Tuesday night.
“It just goes back to having teammates that trust you in those moments,” said Mitchell, who scored 25 of his points in the second half. “I know what I’m capable of. Any player would tell you they want the ball in their hands every possession. When it comes down to it, I understand the plays I’ve got to make and it’s not always scoring.”
No, he’s been Donovan the distributor of late. Mitchell has 20 assists in his last two games, showing he is becoming a complete player.
“What goes into that is the trust factor I have since I got here from my teammates and coaches,” Mitchell said.
“His decision making,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said when asked what Mitchell has improved on the most. “I think he’s improved every single year. But this year is the year where I feel like he’s been at his best. When he does that, the team goes to another level.”
“I think he’s seen damn near every coverage you can throw at him,” added Joe Ingles, who scored a season-high 24 points against the Celtics. “They’ve switched with him, they’ve blitzed him. As smart as he is as a player, being able to read the game, then obviously the unselfishness is something that ties it all together.”
Head coach Quin Snyder has been most impressed by Mitchell’s defensive prowess this season.
“He’s been locked in possession by possession,” Snyder said. “Donovan just wants to get better. He’s not going to be satisfied. We forge sometimes that he’s such a young player.”
A couple weeks ago TNT commentator and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal said Mitchell wasn’t a superstar. What did he have to say after last night’s performance?
“You’re welcome,” Shaq said. “I know what I’m doing. I challenged him because I want him to get to that superstar level. He’s a star, but I want him to get to the level of the guys that I played with.
Mitchell acknowledges though that the season is still young, and the Jazz haven’t accomplished any of their goals just yet.
“It’s only been 25 games,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got plenty more left. Our mind is stuck on a championship. We’re not here to say let’s just be in first and get the accolades that come with that. We’re trying to win the whole thing.”
The Jazz next host Milwaukee Friday night at 7:00 p.m.