Utah Jazz rookie round-up: Donovan Mitchell, future Hall of Famer?

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz dunks the ball against the LA Clippers on November 30, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz dunks the ball against the LA Clippers on November 30, 2017 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell made history as the first Jazz rookie to ever score 40 points in a single game. The previous record of 38 was held by fellow Louisville Cardinal, Darrell Griffith.

I typically like to cover at least the top rookies, but this time Donovan Mitchell deserves a dedicated post. Shoutout to Kyle Kuzma who was just named Western Conference Rookie of the Month for November. Could this have been motivation for Donovan’s explosion?


Maybe, but given Donovan’s character and humility, it sounds like he was just more concerned with the team victory.

As Utah Jazz fans, we tend to get ahead of ourselves at times. But that’s okay! Basketball is a form of entertainment (it’s a game, after all) and we can have some fun with it. I likely woke up some of my neighbors in Brooklyn while watching the

Donovan Mitchell’

s Utah Jazz play the New Orleans Pelicans, because of my excitement.

Is Donovan Mitchell a future Hall of Famer? I certainly hope so, but let’s see how the next seven years go for the Jazz before we leap too far. But while we’re basking in the moment of Mitchell’s historic night, these were two of the more reasonable takes I saw.

Because again, as Jazz fans, we are definitely not homers (see: Chris Paul and the LA Clippers’ 2016-17 playoff loss to Utah) and are more than reasonable.


The Facts

Donovan Mitchell had a historic night against the Pels, not only as a Utah Jazz rookie, but for an NBA rookie through history. In his 23rd game of the season, Mitchell posted an incredible line, a feat that’s only been achieved by an elite few. He had 41 points on 25 field goal attempts and added four rebounds and four assists.

2017-18 Regular Season Table
23232017-12-0121-085UTANOPW (+6)136:421325.520612.500911.818044400334127.7

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/3/2017.

The only other players to do that as rookies since the year 2000?

Stephen Curry is also undeniably the greatest shooter of all time (no disrespect to Ray Allen or my personal hero Reggie Miller). The two rookies to make five or more threes in consecutive games? Mitchell and Steph.

Another fun stat is that Mitchell’s 41 points beats the career-high of Gordon Hayward, posted in the first round of the playoffs last season. (41 is also the number Trey Lyles wore in Utah before he was traded to Denver for Mitchell).

There’s also some other lofty comparisons with All-Star players and Hall of Famers.

But Mr. Tyler, scoring isn’t everything


Are we cherry picking stats a little? Maybe… but if you’re only looking at his stats and scoring, you’re missing the point. Donovan was not just “chucking”. He took this game out of the Pelicans’ bills and transformed it into silky smooth Jazz music.

As fun as the scoring is, this isn’t what impresses me the most.

Mitchell achieved this on the second night of a back-to-back in a game where his team trailed by 12 at the half and by 16 during the third quarter. He was also scoreless in the second quarter and had 12 points at halftime.

He literally put the team on his back with key shots and assists in crucial stretches of the game to will the Jazz to victory.

It’s one thing for a rookie to get “development minutes” on a losing team and a losing game. Mitchell has proven, on more than one occasion, that he is capable of big-time minutes for a team that is now projecting to reach the playoffs. Mitchell is also top 20 in terms of fourth quarter scoring, joined by one other rookie (behind him in the list), Kyle Kuzma.

The Spida Fan Club

As I’ve touched on in previous Rookie Roundups, Donovan has a growing list of NBA stars who have happened to #TakeNote of Mitchell so far.

Chris Paul and Paul George (does anyone else find humor in the fact that they both have two first names?)

Damian Lillard (this happened as early as draft night, but this is from Dame after the 41-point performance) —


Jimmy Butler —

DeMar DeRozan —

DeMarcus Cousins —

Austin Rivers (okay, so not quite a “star”, but he does live in LA) —

And finally, Tracy McGrady —

I’m sure this list is far from complete and I’m sure it will continue to grow throughout the season, but this can only help in Dennis Lindsay’s offseason attempts to lure a free agent to Utah next summer.