Donovan Mitchell: How Utah helped me grow and lead the Cavs to be a title contender
In his first year with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Donovan Mitchell led the team to be a title contender.
What allowed Mitchell to grow
What did he learn from his experience with the Utah Jazz that allowed him to grow and get immediate results with his new franchise?
“One of the biggest things is continue to stay in the moment,” Michell tells VSport’s Valeria Rubino, adding he benefited a lot from the help of veterans who were on the Jazz’s roster with him Utah for the past 5 years.
“So now, coming in as a 6-year vet, I am taking what I learned from playing with a phenomenal head coach and from phenomenal teammates, being able to listen to their conversations,” the shooting guard says.
“It’s easy when you have that crutch, you have those guys right there to talk to and to kind of bail you out…then you come here and you gotta be on for this group. That’s what’s expected of me and you’re always on. Because, at the end of the day, I’m a leader.”
Ricky Rubio as a teammate
Mitchell adds he has benefited a lot from Ricky Rubio’s approach to the game and mentality. The fact the Spanish player is now with the Cavaliers after having been his teammate in Utah for years, is a huge advantage. Mitchell says Rubio “does a phenomenal job. And it’s great that he’s here, so I can lean on him. We can talk about our past experiences.”
Lack of experience? We’ll be ready to go
How does Mitchell react to comments about the lack of experience of the Cavaliers to get a deep playoff run? Is it an extra motivation, does he block those comments out? How does he limit their impact of the team’s winning mindset in the locker room?
“We can’t control how many guys have been to the playoffs. All we can do is control how we play…at the end of the day, the ball has got to go up in the air, everybody ties their shoes the same. I think we’ll be ready to go when playoff time comes,” comments the Elmsford (NY) native, who’s averaging 27.4 points this season.
Coach Bickerstaff describes Donovan’s leadership
Cavs coach J. B. Bickerstaff describes Donovan’s leadership with words of praise. “He’s one of the guys. He has never put himself above the team or outside the team. And he works his tail off.” “When you’re so open and inviting and welcoming, and then you’re a really good player, it makes people want to play with you and listen to what you have to say. It makes people want to follow you,” the coach adds. Was the coach expecting Mitchell to be this good and this effective from the start? “You never really know a guy until you coach him. I couldn’t be more pleased with the person that Donovan is,” Mr. Bickerstaff concludes.