Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell rightly douses rookie understudy

Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

Trent Forrest might be an ideal future sidekick in the Utah Jazz backcourt.

Remember, Utah Jazz rookie Trent Forrest was undrafted out of Florida State. Across four years as a Seminole, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound point guard averaged only 8.3 points and 3.3 assists while shooting a dismal 24.8 percent from 3-point land. Yet he still managed to land a two-way contract with the Jazz prior to the season.

What? Why? How?

Well, for starters, it’s worth noting that Forrest never averaged fewer than 1.2 steals per game in college. Furthermore, as a senior, he started all 31 games for an FSU bunch that finished 26-5 and won the ACC.

In other words, he had been under bright lights as a floor general before. Heck, in a late-season heavyweight battle on ESPN between then-No. 8 Florida State and No. 7 Duke in famed Cameron Indoor Stadium, Forrest totaled eight steals — impressive regardless of the foe — in addition to his 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and only two turnovers, albeit in a five-point loss.

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Add in the fact that his mannerisms, in particular, resemble those of one specific born-calm leader in fourth-year Jazzman sensation Donovan Mitchell.

Utah brass must have forecasted at the time the need for a bit more depth at the one-spot.

They found it in the form of a 22-year-old with the necessary qualities to gradually develop his own NBA wings over time. Forrest could do so while studying under the wings of the 24-year-old Mitchell plus a pair of savvy veterans who regularly play the position in 33-year-olds Mike Conley and Joe Ingles.

With that in mind, it sure felt symbolic to see what transpired immediately following Monday night’s 110-99 home win by the league-leading Utah Jazz (47-18) against the playoff-hungry San Antonio Spurs (31-33).

A well-deserved drenching of the Utah Jazz understudy

Fittingly, after he put on yet another sincerely promising performance off the bench in the ongoing absence of 2021 Utah Jazz All-Stars Donovan Mitchell (right ankle sprain) and Mike Conley (hamstring tightness), Trent Forrest received an on-court water bath with Mitchell as its chief instigator:

Versus the Spurs, Forrest tied his season-high with 21 minutes, finishing with nine points, four rebounds, and a steal.

But a box score doesn’t do justice to his contributions.

Rather, as was the case with his clutch play down the stretch in the Jazz’s hard-fought home victory over the Toronto Raptors two nights prior — replay the block against Fred VanVleet and his critical corner 3-pointer — Forrest provided some timely sparks that again seemed to ensure a favorable outcome for his squad.

Of course, there was this energy-generating dunk midway through the third quarter, which looked Donovan-esque and thereby forced Mitchell out of his seat:

Between the 15 games that he played before Mitchell’s mid-April injury, Forrest scored a measly 16 points. In the past four games alone — equating to this span that Conley has been out of action — the Alabama native has poured in 27 points while dishing out 12 assists, grabbing nine rebounds, and committing only four turnovers.

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Yes, the water-bottle shower was clearly a show of appreciation from Donovan Mitchell & Co., recognizing that Trent Forrest is a quick learner who could one day go down as a monumental steal by the Utah Jazz.