Utah Jazz star makes bold claim about 2020-21 NBA season

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

The Utah Jazz are coming off an undeniably successful 2020-21 season. They finished a league-best 52-20, rostered the Defensive Player of the Year (Rudy Gobert) and Sixth Man of the Year (Jordan Clarkson) and won a playoff series.

Just don’t tell Donovan Mitchell.

“I think last year definitely was shaky”  Salt Lake City’s leading 2020-21 scorer told Sam Amick of the The Athletic.

“There were so many different obstacles with the ankle and whatnot, but like I said, no slight to Phoenix or Milwaukee or the Clippers, but you know, if we were healthy, you know, we get to the finals”.

It’s definitely a fair question for Utah Jazz fans to ponder. Beyond Mitchell’s ankle troubles, backcourt partner Mike Conley Jr. was dealing with his own injury concerns. 

On the flip side, the Clippers were without superstar Kawhi Leonard for much of the series as well. Injuries, as unfortunate as they are, are a part of every NBA team’s calculus. Still, Quin Snyder, the Utah Jazz front office and the fans in Salt Lake City have to love Mitchell’s confidence.

“You know me, Sam, like I love jumping through, around, or over you, (but) that injury kept me on the ground for the entire playoffs, and it allowed me to have to make decisions on the ground, slow it down. Different things that really opened up to (where) I was like ‘ok, this is another level, a layer of my game that I can get to without (the athleticism)”.

Followers of the Utah Jazz ought to feel optimistic about that quote in particular. If there’s room for Mitchell to improve, you’d hardly know it. The 25-year-old averaged 28.5 points and 5.8 assists per game against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the 2020-21 playoffs. It wasn’t until the second round against the Los Angeles Clippers that any substantial issues with his ankle became apparent.

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Here’s hoping for a clean slate of health for Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in 2021-22. It could give him an opportunity to make-good on this bold claim.