With the NBA playoffs beginning, the challenge that the players will face in their quest for a championship becomes clearer. While it’s foolish to argue that this restart will decide the legacy of an NBA player or organization, it certainly can help to build up one should they go the distance.
Just as Hercules had to overcome 12 challenges or labors in order to prove himself to be worthy, NBA superstars will be taxed in a way they never have before. Superstars will be responsible for carrying their teams on the court like usual but they will also have to keep their groups focused, engaged, and united in their quests for a championship. Here are the biggest challenges that 12 NBA superstars will face as they seek to win the title. Here we look at…Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell burst onto scene as a rookie for the Utah Jazz showcasing an athleticism and a knack for scoring that was much needed with the departure of Gordon Hayward. Now in year 3, Mitchell is having his best season with in career highs in scoring (24 ppg), shooting (45% field goal / 37% from three), assists (4.3), and rebounds (4.4). Since the restart, Mitchell and the Jazz have been largely uninspiring but that was somewhat expected to do Bojan Bogdanovic out due to wrist surgery. The Jazz have adjusted by starting Mike Conley and Joe Ingles with Mitchell in the back court.
With Bojan out, the Jazz are severely limited in the number of three point shooters and individual scorers they can deploy. Rudy Gobert is a limited offensive player who feasts off of the creation of others, Joe Ingles is an above average creator but isn’t going to get you 20-plus in a playoff series, Mike Conley has looked better in the bubble but has never been a “go get you a bucket” guy, and lastly Jordan Clarkson is about as streaky a player as they come who primarily only creates for himself.
Taking all that into account Donovan will have quite the heavy lift as the Jazz enter the playoffs. In his young career he has proven he has the ability to carry the scoring load. Mitchell can score from all 3 levels but is at his best when getting downhill and attacking the rim. He is also one of the better pull-up shooter from the mid-range. Per Cleaning the Glass, Mitchell is in the 76th percentile in both long mid range and all mid range shooting percentage. The next area of growth in Mitchell’s game will be to turn those long two’s into pull-up three’s. He is in the 91st percentile in number of mid range shots taken, per Cleaning the Glass.
Where Mitchell will have to do more is in creation for others. If Mitchell wants to take the next step as an NBA superstar he needs to become a more capable distributor as defenses load up and coverage on him. Per Cleaning the Glass, Mitchell is among the worst in the league in assist to usage ratio (.67 / 17th percentile).
There is no debating the Jazz are undermanned and outgunned when matched up against any team in the Western Conference. Mitchell is the one player on the roster with the skill level capable of creating quality shots for himself and scoring in bunches.
We’ve seen what Mitchell is capable of against the Nuggets in the bubble. Though they lost this game these are the types of efforts he will consistently have to turn in. He will have to prove he’s more than just a pure scorer and BE the offensive system in the image of some of the great guards in the NBA if the Jazz are to have any hope of advancing in these playoffs.
by Frank Greco (@fgreco12)