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Donovan Mitchell has put himself in 2020 Olympic mix

Ryan Aston , 2019-09-18 01:54:10
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Fans may be down on the World Cup performance of Team USA, but Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell could end up an Olympian thanks to his individual efforts.

In spite of his awesome talent and humble nature, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell often finds himself the target of a small, but vocal contingent of detractors on NBA Twitter. The brunt of them come from Philly and/or Boston (and it’s not hard to figure out why), and, man, have they have been busy lately with Mitchell and Team USA struggling to a seventh-place finish at the FIBA World Cup.

Their chirping aside, though, Mitchell had a really strong run overall in the tournament. Over eight games (all starts) he put up 13 points, five assists, four boards and one steal per contest. He also shot the ball at a healthy clip, connecting on 47 percent of his shots and 41 percent from 3-point range.

In his 217 minutes on the floor, the Americans outscored the opposition by 96 points.

He played so well, in fact, and was such a strong representative for USA Basketball on and off the floor that he may have put himself in position to snag a spot on the 2020 US Olympic team.

It’s a notion that would have seemed incredibly unlikely just a few, short months ago, but the Jazz star has seemingly inserted himself into the conversation over the last several weeks. At the least, it looks like he’s impressing the right people. Namely, USA Basketball’s director Jerry Colangelo.

SI’s Chris Mannix spoke with Colangelo about the state of USA Basketball this week and, to put it mildly, he’s not content to register a similar result at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo. And while sending a more talented team to the Games will be crucial to that success, the former Phoenix Suns owner may not be turning over the entire team.

In fact, Mitchell looks to be on the possible shortlist of players who have a leg up for roster spots.

Writes Mannix —

He has a deep appreciation for the players that committed to play in the World Cup, suggesting that there were “2-3 players” who likely punched their tickets to Tokyo. Kemba Walker, Team USA’s leading scorer, is probably one. Donovan Mitchell, who singlehandedly kept the U.S. team in the game against France, is another. Colangelo also went out of his way to praise Marcus Smart, a defensive menace who can guard multiple positions.

That report would seem to indicate that Mitchell is a real possibility for next summer. And while much of the American focus for the World Cup was on who didn’t show up, Mitchell was showing up for his country in a big, bad way (Twitter trolls be damned).

Next: Utah Jazz: Caleb Manser’s 2019-20 NBA win-loss predictions

Team USA needs players of his production (and dedication) if they want to climb back to the tap of the mountain next year.

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Donovan Mitchell set to make a lot of people eat crow

Ryan Aston , 2019-09-12 12:15:35
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Editorial — Utah Jazz and Team USA star Donovan Mitchell has curiously become a punching bag for some, but he’s about to flip the script.

Following their loss to Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert and France, Donovan Mitchell and USA Basketball find themselves in the consolation bracket at the FIBA World Cup. Now, instead of vying for a gold medal, they’re vying for a chance to play in fifth-place game

Fifth. Freaking. Place. And even that’s no certainty.

Clearly, this isn’t what fans in the United States had in mind. If you’re among the Jazzland masses, though, you can still seek solace in Gobert and Joe Ingles (who helped Australia advance to the semifinals with a win over the Czech Republic). However, the Americans’ big L to Les Bleus on Wednesday hurts nonetheless.

Despite the setback, one thing you shouldn’t be fretting over is Mitchell’s future at the helm of the Jazz’s attack. Although the haters will tell you otherwise.

Throughout the tournament, Mitchell has been a frequent punching bag for a small, but vocal contingent of fans on social media. After USA’s quarter-final loss, they came out of the woodwork once more.

It’s a curious development considering Mitchell just registered one of the best games by anyone in the tournament to date — 29 points, 12-of-23 shooting, six boards, four dimes, two thefts and zero turnovers.

Here’s just a small sample of the analysis being offered —

In case you were unaware, this is totally my “Donovan Mitchell ’bout to take a leap after leading team USA” argument with some historical context.

Seriously, let us dispense with the notion that Mitchell is having a bad FIBA run. Per 36 minutes, he’s averaging 18 points, six rebounds and six assists and he has posted shooting splits of 46-35-100; solid numbers all around.

Moreover, he’s Team USA’s plus/minus leader — opponents have been outscored by 14.8 points per game when Mitchell has been on the floor. I won’t even mention his 5.2/1 assist-to-turnover ratio; it’s too ridiculous to discuss.

He’s absolutely been a leader for the Americans, and had they allowed him to lead in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game, they may still be in the hunt for a medal.

In many ways, Team USA’s performance feels like what went down in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, when a squad that was missing several top NBA talents got stuck with the bronze and ended 12 years of American dominance. And I expect Mitchell will respond to this setback as a young Dwyane Wade did then.

During that run, a 22-year-old Wade — the player Mitchell is probably most compared to these days — averaged 7.3 points per contest and shot 38 percent from the floor in his first action with the senior national team.

Also, he missed all three of the 3-point shots he attempted and logged more turnovers than assists. He legitimately did play at a level approaching bad.

So, how did D-Wade recover from his own FIBA disaster during the 2004-05 season? By averaging 24-7-5, getting his first All-Star nod and leading the Heat to a No. 1 seed and the Eastern Conference Finals, where it took the defending champion Detroit Pistons seven games to eliminate them.

Now, this is a Hall of Fame guy we’re talking about, but it just goes to show that the kind of hot takes about Mitchell’s own FIBA “failure” equating to an inability to reach an elite level (or even get better) as an NBA player are pretty unfounded.

Wade was bona fide before and after that tournament and the same applies to Mitchell now.

Over the final 42 games of the 2018-19 season — I’m no math whiz, but I think that’s more than half of the 82-game campaign — the Jazz guard put up 27 points and nearly five rebounds and five assists per game. Along the way, he shot 45 percent from the field and 41 percent from distance.

That fact remains unchanged in spite of Wednesday’s result and/or the trolls’ response to said result.

The fact of the matter is that Mitchell improved by leaps and bounds from year one to year two. And despite what’s happening with USA Basketball currently, it’s pretty clear to me that his trajectory is unchanged, particularly given the talent the Jazz have surrounded him with.

In other words, when he’s balling out with Mike Conley next season, I’ll be pretty shocked if he gets frozen out of fourth quarters in the same way he did by Kemba Walker and others in the US’ World Cup quarter-final defeat.

Next: Utah Jazz: Mitchell and Team USA got Goberted

So, if you’re a Jazz fan out there on Twitter, ready to boil over because some dude from Philadelphia, Boston, Timbuktu or wherever says your guy sucks, don’t sweat it.

Donovan Mitchell is about to make those people eat some major crow.

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Mitchell and Team USA sent home by Gobert in 'major upset'

Ryan Aston , 2019-09-11 15:47:45
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Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert led Les Bleus to the FIBA World Cup semifinals with a huge win over fellow Jazzman Donovan Mitchell and USA Basketball.

People will call it a major upset — some of those stories have already hit the net — and we can debate the merit of that statement, but one thing is absolutely true about USA Basketball’s quarterfinal bout with France at the FIBA World Cup on Wednesday.

The Americans got Goberted.

In a battle of Utah Jazz teammates, Rudy Gobert and Les Bleus eliminated would-be World Cup favorites Donovan Mitchell and Team USA with an 89-79 win at Dongfeng Nissan Cultural and Sports Centre in Dongguan, China.

Jazz fans, remember that game in Detroit last season when a fan drew the ire of Mitchell and it inspired the second-year man to lead Utah to a big road win? Well, a similar scenario played out here, only Mitchell was on the receiving end of it.

Before the game, USA big man Myles Turner thought it was a good idea to question Gobert’s status as the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year. According to France’s Nicolas Batum, those comments fired up the Jazz center, who paced his team with 21 points, 16 boards, three blocked shots and a steal.

Two of those swats came during the decisive final stretch; the latter was on a Mitchell lay-up attempt with 53 ticks left that would have brought the Americans within two points of Gobert and company.

Shenanigans in the press and the revenge factor aside, though, Gobert was clearly the best player on the floor in this contest. That was the case before and after the game, too.

And while no nation could match the Americans’ depth in this tournament, the fact that they lost to a team that had the game’s best player and a quality supporting cast probably shouldn’t be thought of as a major upset.

For Mitchell, this was the game Jazz fans and Team USA had been waiting for — a dominating scoring performance. He led all scorers with 29 points on 12-of-23 shooting and 3-of-6 from deep. The Jazz guard also added six rebounds, four assists, two steals and had zero turnovers. Unfortunately, it all came in a heartbreaking loss.

Curiously, Mitchell only got three shots up in the final carom despite the fact that he was rolling, which has got to be considered a failure on the part of Team USA. For all the defense provided by the Stifle Tower down the stretch, it turns out the best defense played on Mitchell was by his own teammates.

I’m looking at you, Kemba!

Next: The Utah Jazz’s headband rule is kaput

While this was a rough one for USA Basketball, it’s a signature moment for Gobert and France, who will take on Argentina in the semifinals on Friday. At the least, Jazz fans in the US can hang their hats on that.

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3 positives and 3 negatives about Mitchell in FIBA group play

Jared Woodcox , 2019-09-10 23:04:40
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SHENZHEN, CHINA – SEPTEMBER 09: Donovan Mitchell of USA in action during FIBA World Cup 2019 Group K match between USA and Brazil at Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre on September 9, 2019 in Shenzhen, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

There were some ups and downs in the performance of Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in FIBA group play, but overall he’s played exceptionally well for Team USA.

After a slew of exciting games, FIBA World Cup group play has come to an end for Team USA and the other competitors from around the world. The United States had a close shave against Turkey, but handled their business quite well other than that, finishing with a perfect 5-0 record.

Things are undoubtedly about to get much, much tougher for them, though, as they’ll kick off the quarter-finals against Rudy Gobert and France in the first round of the true elimination bracket on Wednesday. The French squad was one win away from perfection in group play as their sole lose came by a narrow two-point margin to Joe Ingles and Australia. They’ll be hungry and anxious to take advantage of a US team that many consider vulnerable.

A couple quarter-final contests have already been decided as Spain defeated Poland on Tuesday and Argentina surprisingly upset Serbia, the squad many thought would present the toughest challenge for Team USA. If the United States manages to get past France, they’ll take on the Argentinian squad in the semi-finals.

But before we get ahead of ourselves and start thinking about the elimination bracket, I thought now was as good of a time as ever to pause and reflect on what we’ve seen out of Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell thus far now that group play has concluded. With five FIBA games under his belt in his first action for Team USA, there’s been a lot to digest about Donovan’s play, both good and bad.

Let’s dive in to some of both aspects of the FIBA performance of Donovan Mitchell, who’s been forecasted by many to have a superstar breakout season in year three.

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Check out the 1st half ( Full ) highlights between the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets.

Game Summary
The Jazz have a narrow lead, up by 7 going into the break (Half-time score: 61 – 54,
Jazz leads).

🅱️etter-Half 🅿️erformer 
⭐️ Donovan Mitchell

This 1st round match-up mimic’s the real world series of the 2019 NBA Playoffs.
Game Mode: CPU 👀 | Full Simulation: 12 min. QTR

Stay Connected! Game 2 coming soon!!!!

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Are Donovan Mitchell, Team USA still FIBA favorites?

Jared Woodcox , 2019-09-07 02:20:25
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After some early FIBA struggles, can Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and his Team USA squad still be considered the tournament favorites?

It was essentially common knowledge this summer that the Team USA that would be representing the country in the FIBA Basketball World Cup wouldn’t be the nation’s A-team. After several players either declined an invite or withdrew from international play, Team USA Chairman Jerry Colangelo and head coach Gregg Popovich were forced to put together the best team they could muster composed of the best players available.

In so doing, they formed a squad led by Utah Jazz rising star Donovan Mitchell, Boston Celtics newcomer Kemba Walker, promising young big man Myles Turner and a combination of other young bucks and veterans such as Jayson Tatum, Harrison Barnes and Khris Middleton, to name a few.

Those are some formidable guys, to be sure, but still many have argued (and justifiably so) that this year’s rendition of Team USA is very much a B-Team when compared to the immense talent advantage that the United States typically enjoys. And, unfortunately, their performance thus far would very much prove that statement accurate.

First of all, Team USA lost their first international contest in their last 78 tries in an exhibition match against Australia. Sure, the American team had won just the time before and the defeat came in a meaningless friendly competition, but it was still a shocking loss. Even worse, though, was how Team USA performed against Turkey in the first round of FIBA group play.

What most presumed should have been an easy victory turned out to be an enormous challenge from which Team USA just barely escaped. With mistake after mistake, they ultimately found themselves being taken to overtime. And even then, it took four consecutive missed free throws from Turkey for the Americans to miraculously come out on top.

If they could barely get past Turkey, what does that mean for the rest of the tournament?

Sure, it was just one bout and, quite frankly, Donovan Mitchell, who has been one of the leaders of the team, and the rest of the squad didn’t play well at all. But if they’re capable of slipping that much against a team that was ranked just 17th in the world, they will definitely be at risk against the more prolific talent they are bound to face.

Even though the American team entered the field somewhat depleted, they were still considered by most to be the favorite. After all, they’re the only squad with an entire roster comprised of NBA players led by a coach believed by many to be the best in the world. But after what we’ve seen out of them so far, can we truly say they are the favorites?

There are several teams that remain undefeated alongside the US that have looked absolutely formidable. Save for a complacent second half against Germany, Rudy Gobert‘s French team appears to be among the best. Joe Ingles‘ Australia has also taken care of business in a big way to the tune of a 3-0 start. Brazil, who the US will face on Monday, has been incredible as well and even teams like Argentina and Poland, who are also undefeated, have looked strong.

And that’s leaving out two other undefeated groups. One is Spain, though Team USA admittedly made light work of them in the pre-tournament exhibition. The other, however, is Serbia, who has looked nigh unstoppable thus far in FIBA play.

Not only is Serbia undefeated, but they have absolutely demolished their opponents. First they beat Angola 105-59 and the Philippines 126-67. Sure, neither of those two are much to write home about, but I’d say it’s meaningful that Serbia took care of business against lackluster opponents whereas Team USA was nearly toppled by Turkey. Yes, they did much better against Japan and the Czech Republic, but Serbia has still looked unyielding compared to the USA.

Even more impressive, in Serbia’s final game of the first round of group play, they took on a much more competitive Italy team and still won handily by a score of 92-77. After advancing to the second round, they got things started off strong with a 90-47 win over Puerto Rico on Friday.

Again, you could definitely argue that Serbia’s performance has had more to do with their lackluster opponents than it has with their flawless execution, and there would definitely be a significant amount of truth to that. Their next contest will be a far greater challenge as they’ll take on Spain on Sunday, which could shed further light on just how foreboding Serbia truly is.

But, personally, I believe Serbia will beat Spain and, unless Team USA turns things around considerably in their next two contests, you could easily make the case that Serbia has surpassed the Americans as the 2019 FIBA favorites.

Not only have they been absolutely decimating opponents, but they have a number of talented NBA players in their ranks who have all played very well internationally. That group is headlined by Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic, but he’s also joined by Bogdan Bogdanovic (not to be confused with Bojan Bogdanovic from Croatia who is the one the Jazz signed this summer), Nemanja Bjelica and Boban Marjanovic.

Even the less heralded guys on their squad have played well, and the chemistry Serbia has shown has been undoubtedly helpful. You can tell from the mere way they’re putting up such a high number of points and blowing opponents out of the water that they are simply firing on all cylinders.

Like the US squad, who has tough battles ahead against Greece, Brazil, then most likely one of either France or Australia, Serbia is about to be challenged as well. First against the aforementioned Spain, then next versus either Argentina or  Poland. Personally, I’d say Team USA’s path is considerably more difficult, but that’s besides the point. The fact is that the United States team needs to play much better than they have regardless of opponent and that we should get a much better idea of how truly daunting Serbia is in the next week.

Regardless of what we see there, assuming Team USA picks it up and finds a way to play up to their potential, they could very well be on a crash course to face Serbia down the road. And as long as neither faces an unforeseen elimination, it’s entirely possible that the argument of which one is the deserving favorite won’t be settled until the pair of them actually face off on the court.

Next: Utah Jazz: FIBA World Cup roundup – Jazzmen undefeated so far, but face tough tasks ahead

Based on what we’ve seen thus far, though, and considering the more difficult path facing Team USA, it wouldn’t be the slightest stretch to say that Serbia appears to be the favorite as FIBA play progresses into the second round.

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Michael Bennett latest NFL star to rock Donovan Mitchell jersey

Jared Woodcox , 2019-09-05 11:00:15
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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell continues to build his fanbase as New England Patriot Michael Bennett was the latest to sport No. 45’s jersey.

There’s no doubt about it – Donovan Mitchell‘s popularity continues to skyrocket. And such isn’t just the case among Utah Jazz fans, it’s the case among basketball fans of all loyalties around the world. Between his awesome Spida logo, his new Adidas shoe deal and of course his ever-marketable personality on and off the court, Mitchell continues to make a name for himself and enhance his brand.

But it’s not just unknown fans that are high on Donovan Mitchell, but big-time stars including those in other sports leagues have taken a liking to the young guard as well. With the NFL set to get underway on Thursday, there lately has obviously been extensive media coverage surrounding the players and teams with interviews galore. In a recent one with Los Angeles Rams running back extraordinaire Todd Gurley, he appeared donning his very own Donovan Mitchell jersey.

As was detailed previously by my J-Notes colleague Ryan Aston, when asked about Mitchell, Gurley described that the two of them were “recent friends” and also stated, “Good dude, man. Good dude. I like his game, just thought I’d support him and wear the jersey.”

And it appears that Gurley isn’t the only NFL player whose eye Mitchell has been able to catch. In locker room interviews on Wednesday, New England Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett was also seen sporting the number 45 Jazz jersey.

It’s incredible to think that it was mere years ago that the prevalent narrative was that guys couldn’t build a brand in Salt Lake City playing for the Utah Jazz. Some say that was a contributing reason to why Gordon Hayward, and so many players before him, flew the Jazz coop as soon as they got a chance. However, Mitchell’s incredible brand presence and popularity have proven that outdated sentiment absolutely wrong.

Who could have guessed a couple years ago that either one of these guys – Gurley or Bennett – would be donning Jazz uniforms ahead of the 2019-20 NFL season? It’s almost unfathomable to believe when considering the track record of most players that suit up in small-market Utah.

But Donovan Mitchell has been so prolific on the floor and even more likable off of it, that he’s managed to win over fans of all kinds, including two well-respected NFL talents.

Next: Utah Jazz alums: Could we see a Stockton in Lakers purple and gold?

Utah Jazz fans, and the rest of Mitchell’s ever-growing number of supporters, have the chance to see him in action in FIBA World Cup play Thursday morning at 6:30 AM MT as Team USA takes on Japan, then once again on Saturday as his squad will advance to the next round of tournament action.

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