Utah Jazz rookie round-up 11/1: The dunk heard round the world

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 25: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz grabs the rebound against the Phoenix Suns on October 25, 2017 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 25: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz grabs the rebound against the Phoenix Suns on October 25, 2017 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Week two of the season is complete. Our Utah Jazz are sitting at 3-3 and after struggling offensively for most of week one and week two, Donovan Mitchell kicked it into gear. And is Damian Lillard coming to Utah?

Last week, I kicked off a weekly rookie round-up to track Donovan Mitchell in the Rookie of the Year race. I won’t bother summarizing some other rookies around the league this week further than my “bold prediction”: Ben Simmons will win the Rookie of the Year award.

To the naysayers,  Ben Simmons is a generational talent and the best rookie since LeBron James. That out of the way, Jayson Tatum is also looking extremely efficient and fitting well into Brad Stevens’ system.

Aside from those two, there’s plenty of room near the top for newcomers.

Like I said, I won’t rank up this week, but I will give mention to the top rookies Mitchell has already faced this year.

Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson

Dallas Mavericks (technically week three): Dennis Smith Jr.

LA Lakers: Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball

In each of these contests, Donovan Mitchell looked like the more complete player. To be fair, the Jazz truly do have an elite and stifling defense so it may be very, very difficult for any rookie to have success against them this year.

With that in mind, Mitchell still outplayed each of these rookies on the defensive end of the floor. Against LA he was hands down the best rookie in the game. Lonzo Ball wasn’t even the best rookie on his own team in that game.

Josh Jackson and Dennis Smith, Jr. both looked pretty lost in their respective games. Smith, Jr. really didn’t stand a chance against Ricky Rubio’s wily defense, either.

I really hope that Donovan Mitchell can sneak into my top five within the next week or two, but I’ll get more detailed next week.

For this week, I want to focus on the development and break-out performance of Donovan Mitchell.

Donnie’s breakout game 

Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell is not gun-shy. At times this season, he has led the Jazz in usage and field goal attempts. He also has a good looking shot. However, that had yet to translate in the NBA.

Whether it was nerves or lack of confidence, he wasn’t able to connect. Through five games, he had one of the worst field goal percentages for rookies ever. Just check out his offensive TPA:

After a solid first quarter of play in last Saturday’s game against the LA Lakers, the Jazz slowed down and the Lakers began their slow crawl to get back into the game. The third quarter started off sloppy and the Jazz turned the ball over on several horrendous possessions.

Enter Donovan Mitchell. Donnie forgot about his slow start. In a 90 second span, Donovan Mitchell turned the tide of the Laker’s attempted comeback and helped seal the victory for his team. He ended the game with 22 points on 56 percent(!) shooting.

He had a tremendously athletic three-point play where he switched to his left hand in the air after getting fouled by Lonzo Ball on a runner in the lane. He had the beautiful put-back slam for his first SportsCenter Top Ten (at number one). And then hit a three-point shot above the break. Just watch the clip below.

Hint: Play this on repeat all day every day.

Donovan making friends

This kid is special. He certainly isn’t on track to win Rookie of the Year (can we just award it to Ben Simmons already?), but he has something unique. Other players have also noticed, and some notable ones at that.

Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune tweeted that Donovan had told him he had received text messages from Damian Lillard. Now, I’m not about to jump into wild speculation land (I’m not ashamed to admit that I did fire up trade machine and double-check when Dame enters free agency) and say Lillard is on his way to Utah, but he’s definitely making an impression on the league’s top talent.

I also should remind you that he spent time with Chris Paul and Paul George during the off-season and also impressed there.

Next: Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks reactions: Rudy Gobert is finally back

Like I said, this kid is special.  I projected who he could become before the season started and, so far, I am seeing all of the right signals. He’ll certainly have ups and downs, but I’m feeling really good about his future in Utah.