Utah Jazz: ‘LeDonovan’ transforming SLC into East LA

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports) /

Utah Jazz top gun Donovan Mitchell must be giving off severe winning vibes.

It’s not your dad’s Utah Jazz. Times have changed. Salt Lake City is showing signs of significant growth in the basketball world, becoming a more popular destination in the eyes of established NBA talent.

And all of the credit — well, the heaviest chunk of it, anyway — belongs to two-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell.

The electrifying guard is arguably the most confident player under the age of 25 in the league right now. He guided the franchise to its first outright regular-season crown this last go-round, with the Jazz having now made the NBA Playoffs five straight times.

Donovan Mitchell securing Utah Jazz teammates in LeBron-esque fashion

At this point, Mitchell’s abundant belief in himself seems to be combining with his oozing charisma to form a peer magnet.

Add to that what happened back in April. That’s when NBA legend Dwyane Wade became a Jazz minority owner and thereby more of an on-hand buddy to Mitchell, consistently visible on the sidelines and by his side after games.

So cool. It has to be, right? After all, the tight bond with Wade alone is quite LeBron James-like.

Perhaps this week has been a reflection of the uptick in Utah’s perceived “coolness” among outsiders, which wouldn’t have been possible without Mitchell’s locked-in presence and his innate ability to help lure Wade into the fold. Indeed, some relatively “cool” additions are making their way to town this month via the trade route and free agency. All are at reasonable prices.

Rudy Gay. Hassan Whiteside. Eric Paschall.

That’s not to mention the resecured prolific veteran lefty, Mike Conley. He not only chose to stick around by re-signing this week in free agency for three more years, but the reigning All-Star wingman to Mitchell was also willing to do so at a favorable discount.

ALSO READ: Stacked Jazz backcourt might be NBA’s best next season

Would all — or even any — of the above news have happened if Mitchell wasn’t in the picture? Highly doubtful, with all due respect to Rudy Gobert, Quin Snyder, Joe Ingles, etc.

Instead, as is the case with LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers these days, the oh-so-cool centerpiece appears to be the overriding reason for the steady supply of co-stars and top-tier role players embracing the Utah Jazz.

Yet as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat would attest despite championship-ensured thankfulness, becoming “the place to be” for a few years leaves no guarantees once the leading man skips town.

That said, Mitchell doesn’t become a free agent himself until 2026. Plus, the moves this week have all but silenced all those detractors who were just recently concocting speculation about the 24-year-old demanding a trade out of Utah.

No, Mitchell looks as happy as can be where he is right now.

He’s constantly tweeting out messages of hope regarding the Jazz’s future. He’s ready to build on last season’s unmatched regular-season success by finishing the deal in the postseason.

And now, he has the good fortune of trying again to achieve that goal with a highly encouraging cast of returning contributors. Remember, including Mitchell, the top seven scorers should return from a squad that went 52-20.

Pair that with the addition of a trio of proven weapons, who must now want in on what Donovan Mitchell’s budding career is brewing.

Next. Top 50 Utah Jazz players of all time. dark

Call him “LeDonovan” if you want. Scratch that. Instead, Utah Jazz fans would be wise to refrain from such a moniker, at least for as long as Mitchell refrains from taking his talents elsewhere.