by: keith rivas
I get that it’s hard for a lot of Jazz fans to cope with the fact that their team is still flirting with
being .500 at the halfway point of the regular season. Given the kind of sway that took place last
season when the team looked all but a lottery team through three-fourths of the year, there’s still
a weird presence of faith in this team.
A lot of that faith should be placed in Donovan Mitchell. While he’s not at the top of the Western
Conference or nearly in the headlines as much as Ben Simmons or Luka Doncic, he’s doing
more than enough to carry his weight with the team.
Rightfully so, the Utah Jazz made a move earlier this season to trade for Kyle Korver. The deal
with Cleveland sent Alec Burks out, but it gave the team a crucial edge in outside shooting and
Night after night it was clear that Donovan Mitchell averaging 20 points per game wouldn’t be
enough. Since then, the buckets that Korver contributes has given Utah a drive to be more
balanced on and off the court. Chemistry is as important as anything -- especially with the Utah
Jazz -- and it will start to show in the second half of the season.
In any case, back to comparing how Mitchell is doing in year two compared to when he made a
statement of an appearance in his inaugural season.
Instead of looking at the success of the team as an overall marker for how he is performing, let’s
look at his actual numbers between seasons.
Through this point in the season, he’s playing an average of 30 seconds less per game. That
being said, a similar time spent on the floor has reaped identical results.
For instance, his average points per game in year one was 20.5 while this year it’s gone up to
20.7 -- the same kind of mirror effect can be seen in his blocks, steals, assists, field goals made,
field goals attempted, and efficiency from downtown.
The full break down can be seen here, courtesy of Basketball Reference.
Knowing that his numbers are not different in any unbelievable way, the key difference that will
make or break this season is how they use Mitchell’s abilities and if they actually use him to help
the team reach their full potential.
Don’t let the first half of the season fool you -- Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz still have
plenty of reason to firmly believe we are still in the year of the spider.
keith rivas is a contributor for the up&under.