Utah Jazz: Ranking the top five players from the year 2019

Utah Jazz. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Utah Jazz. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Donovan Mitchell

2019 stats: 75 games played, 25.9 points, 4.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 45 FG %

Donovan Mitchell is no longer sneaking up on opponents as a draft steal; he is becoming a full-fledged superstar in the league. He is a consistent bet to score over 20 points in nearly every game, and the Jazz are built to go as far as Mitchell and Gobert take them.

In his third year in the league he is scoring at a career high rate with career best efficiency. Last night he out-dueled Damian Lillard by scoring 28 points in the second half. That has been a career trend for Donovan Mitchell to feel his way through the early part of the game, learning from mistakes and ultimately capitalizing on his new knowledge in the fourth quarter.

Don’s aggressiveness in the fourth quarter has paid off for the Jazz. He is one of the league leaders for points scored in the clutch (defined as the final five minutes in the fourth quarter in a close game), and he has carried the Jazz on his back to many close victories the Jazz have failed to win over the past few years. This is one of the biggest reasons why the Jazz are off to their best start in the Quin Snyder era.

The bulk of credit for Mitchell’s development belongs to Donovan himself, for the hard work he’s diligently put in. The Jazz front office knows that the more help they get Donovan, the greater heights they will be able to achieve together. That’s one of the main reasons they acquired Jordan Clarkson this past week.

If Emmanuel Mudiay, Georges Niang, Clarkson, and especially Ed Davis can find their footing enough to give Mitchell more time to rest, then the Jazz are in good position to take on the best in this league. There has already been good flashes, such as 1) when they almost beat the Milwaukee Bucks on the road sans Gobert, 2) almost beating the Miami Heat on the road sans Mike Conley, and 3) nearly blowing out the Portland Trail-Blazers in what would have been their most complete win of the season.

The Jazz wouldn’t have these lofty hopes of contending for a title had it not been for the rise of Donovan Mitchell. Originally drafted 13th overall, I never expected him to be more than a 3 and D shooting guard with a little bounce. He easily surpassed my expectations within the first 20 games of his career, and has blown them out of the water ever since. Without Mitchell the Jazz would be stuck in the bubble playoff tier along with Minnesota. A second star playing alongside a game changing center makes a big difference, which is what Minnesota lacks right now.