SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – If the Utah Jazz are going to take the next step in becoming an NBA title contender, Donovan Mitchell knows he has to take his game to the next level.
A two-time NBA All-Star, Mitchell has improved his scoring average every year in the league, including a 26.4 average last season, while averaging a career-best 5.2 assists per game. But Mitchell said he needs to play even better.
“For us to get to that next level, I need to take that jump and be ready,” said Mitchell, who is getting ready to tip off the 2021-22 season Wednesday night at home against Oklahoma City. “I’m ready for it mentally and physically. So now I just have to go out and do it.”
“Every year he’s got better and better in all aspects of the game,” added forward Joe Ingles. “Offensively is what people see the most, but defensively he’s gotten better and better. I think there’s another level that he wants to take.”
Mitchell is the undisputed leader of the team, and going into his fifth NBA season, he is embracing the role.
“For myself and my teammates they trust me,” Mitchell said. “I trust myself and the coaches trust me, so it makes my job easier when you have the support system I’ve had since I got here. It’s also not being too hard on myself. There’s going to be ups and downs. I may start strong, may start off slow, but at the end of the day just keeping trust in the work you put in. Just become the best leader I can be.”
Mitchell led the Jazz to the NBA’s best record in the regular season last year. The team seems to be following his lead, as everyone is trying to get better going into a season filled with high expectations.
“The dedication across the board, from players, coaches to front office, everyone to get better and everyone has bought into it,” Ingles said..
“I think as a whole my game has got better, but there are things I see where I can continue to make the jump,” Mitchell added. “They see I’m making an effort to get better. That way, I can be a more all-around player, more all-around leader.”
Mitchell says individual stats are nice, but the ultimate goal is to win an NBA championship.
“We haven’t won, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “We can win, and we have a group that can win and wants to win. But ultimately we’re all judged on the end goal, the ring.”