Age: 2018 Height: 6-3 Weight: 215 lbs School: Louisville
The Utah Jazz were one of the NBA’s most remarkable storylines last season. Securing the fifth seed in the Western Conference and advancing to the second round of the playoffs were outcomes no one saw coming after the franchise lost its best player in Gordon Hayward and starting point guard George Hill in free agency. Fortunately, Utah received an unexpected jolt from rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell, who is poised to take his game and the franchise to greater heights in his sophomore season.
Donovan Mitchell wasn't happy with Utah's sporadic defense and neither was coach Quin Snyder. Good thing the Jazz had plenty of scoring options to make up for it. Mitchell scored 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and Utah overcame an uneven performance on both ends of the floor to beat the Sacramento Kings 123-117 in the season opener for both teams Wednesday night.
A season of high hopes tips off at a site of far lesser expectations when the Utah Jazz visit the Sacramento Kings to open the NBA season on Wednesday night. Utah made only cosmetic changes to a team that was the hottest in the NBA in the second half of last season, winning 29 of its final 35 regular-season games before eliminating Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs. A team built on consistency and continuity under Quin Snyder once again will count upon a mix of second-year offensive standout Donovan Mitchell and perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert.
During the 2017-18 regular season, Ben Simmons, a 19 year-old omni-positional marvel, flirted with a triple-double almost every night—and, more importantly, played a key role in landing the Sixers a three-seed in the playoffs. Simmons was poised and inventive in ways that first-year teens just aren’t supposed be. The birther-esque campaign against his Rookie of the Year eligibility—started by Donovan Mitchell’s fans, then taken up by Mitchell himself, and finally by the apparel company he endorses—hinged as much on this implausibility as it did a non-existent technicality.
Donovan Mitchell, who led all NBA rookies last season by scoring 20.5 points a game, will remain with the Utah Jazz through the 2019-20 campaign, the club announced Thursday. The Jazz exercised a club option to keep the 13th pick in last year's NBA Draft for a third campaign just six days before Utah opens the 2018-19 season Wednesday at Sacramento. Mitchell, who won last season's NBA Slam Dunk Contest, joined David Robinson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain as the only rookies since 1959 to lead all scorers for a club that wins 45 games or more.