There’s just enough info to guess when the Utah Jazz superstar will return.
No two injuries are exactly alike. That said, ankle sprains are as common as they come in the NBA. And as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Saturday, there’s now relative optimism regarding the low right ankle sprain that Donovan Mitchell suffered less than four minutes into the third quarter of the Utah Jazz’s 119-111 Friday home win over the Indiana Pacers.
Mitchell’s setback does not include structural damage, according to an MRI.
Still, the Jazz tagged the sprain as “significant” and noted that the two-time All-Star guard will be out at least a week before the team reevaluates the condition of his ankle. In other words, he should miss at least the next three games, not to mention his absence on Saturday in a 127-115 overtime loss at the Los Angeles Lakers.
With that in mind, the soonest possible date for Donovan Mitchell’s return is April 26 when Utah travels to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Not likely that the Utah Jazz’s top playmaker will return quite so soon
Judging from the word “significant” and the caution that the franchise is sure to show with respect to its leading scorer, one would think Donovan Mitchell’s return will come significantly later than that game in Minnesota.
Besides, even Grade 1 ankle sprains can take up to 2-3 weeks to fully heal.
Therefore, diving into pure speculation mode here, it seems like a safe bet that Mitchell will be out of action at least through the end of April and could even miss a sizeable chunk of May.
As for predicting the exact date that Mitchell will be on the court for a game, let’s go with the May 7 home matchup against the Denver Nuggets. That would allow him to gradually work his way back into a full-time role across home games on back-to-back nights leading up to Utah’s stretch of three road outings in the span of four games to close out the regular season.
Again, that’s just a guess, but one would think the actual return date will fall within a game or two of that battle with the Nuggets.
One thing seems certain: Mitchell needs to be 100 percent come playoff time — beginning May 22 — in order for the Utah Jazz to make a serious run at the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy this go-round.
Prior to Friday’s outing, the 24-year-old had averaged 36.8 points across his previous five games. And Donovan Mitchell’s 29.7 points per game since the All-Star break ranks second in the league behind Steph Curry. Plus, per ESPN Stats & Info, that mark is within striking distance of Karl Malone’s franchise record of 30.5 points per game following the All-Star break 30 years ago.
Now, the Utah Jazz (42-15) will try to continue hanging on to its lead in the Western Conference (currently 1.5 games ahead of the Phoenix Suns).