Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Donovan Mitchell

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 28: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz speaks to the press after being selected in the 2017 draft at Grand America Hotel on June 28, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) Donovan Mitchell
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 28: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz speaks to the press after being selected in the 2017 draft at Grand America Hotel on June 28, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) Donovan Mitchell /

Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell appears to have a bright future ahead of him regardless of how his 2017-18 season turns out.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Utah Jazz’s summer was the draft-day trade that saw them move up to the 13th overall pick and select Louisville product Donovan Mitchell. From the get-go, Mitchell appeared ecstatic to be joining the organization and he has done nothing but exhilarate Jazz fans since then, both on and off the court as well as on social media.

Mitchell was a menace in Summer League where he excelled on both ends of the floor. He put up a solid 15.3 points in Utah Jazz Summer League and played phenomenal defense, most notably on third overall pick Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics. He also led the league in steals at 3.3 per game.

In Las Vegas Summer League, Mitchell upped his game even further as he averaged a league-high 28 points per game, thanks largely to a 37-point explosion against the Memphis Grizzlies. Donovan played in just two games in Vegas, largely because after all he’d done between the two leagues, the Jazz were already well pleased with what they had seen.

Perhaps even more impressive about his brief stint in Vegas was his continued lock-down defense, which saw him average six steals per game, including an eight-steal barrage in the same game in which he dropped 37 points. All in all, Mitchell looked like an NBA-ready player and his early showing with the Jazz in Summer League has given fans and the team alike extremely high hopes for what he could turn out to be.

Best Case Scenario

The best case scenario for Donovan Mitchell is that his Summer League performance was merely the beginning and he continues to carry over that level of play into the NBA. Of course, there’s things he needs to improve such as his shot selection and efficiency, but overall if he can find a way to translate what he did this offseason into games that truly matter, it will provide a huge lift for the Jazz.

Obviously his playing time will be down, particularly initially, but if Mitchell reaches his potential early, he could find himself earning a much larger role sooner rather than later. He certainly is accustomed to a big role given that he had one as a student-athlete at Louisville as a leader defensively and a solid contributor offensively.

He averaged 15.6 points per game in his final year as a Cardinal while shooting 35.4 percent from deep and 40.8 percent from the field. For Mitchell to truly reach his best case scenario, he’ll likely have to up those percentages, but given the track record of Utah’s player development staff, it seems probable that he can do just that.

If Mitchell becomes the defensive specialist and electric scorer that he has appeared capable of, then finding himself on the All-NBA Rookie Team feels like a very real possibility as does turning into a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate. There’s clearly a lot of hype surrounding rookie Donovan Mitchell and living up to it would definitely produce incredible results for both himself and his Jazz team.

Worst Case Scenario

Given how solid Mitchell has looked in his short time in a Jazz jersey, it’s hard to imagine him taking too big of a dive in his rookie season. Even if he does have a forgettable first year in the league, it’s reassuring to know that a single rookie season does not an NBA career make. Mitchell definitely has the talent and the drive to turn into a solid Jazzman even if his rookie year isn’t exactly what fans hope it will be.

With that being said, Mitchell’s worst case scenario probably involves things I’ve alluded to previously, such as struggling with efficiency and being unable to find his shot in the NBA. If this ends up being the case, Mitchell will still likely be utilized as a defensive stopper and provided a chance to develop off the bench. The Jazz are in a position where they can afford to allow their younger players a little more run than last season and Mitchell is certainly worthy of such an opportunity.

In other words, Mitchell’s worst case scenario likely would result in him playing a small role off the bench and having little impact this season as he works to adjust to a new situation. That quite frankly wouldn’t be all that surprising for most rookies, but it would most definitely be a letdown considering the high hopes surrounding the Jazz newcomer.

The worst case scenario for Mitchell would probably include a number of DNPs and a long checklist of things to work on during the offseason of 2018, but it’s hard to see it being anything more serious than that.

Next: Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Royce O’Neale

Thankfully, I have a feeling that even if Mitchell doesn’t quite live up to all the hype surrounding him right now, he’s still going to end the year much closer to the best case scenario than the worst case scenario. He has nearly all the traits one would hope for in an incoming rookie and his play in Summer League seemed to indicate that he’s more than ready for the big stage.

And if things do truly come together for him, he could very well work his way into the Jazz’s rotation and solidify himself as a solid contributor for years to come.