Everyone who watches Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell can tell he’s special. He passes the so-called “eye test” easily. But what *is* the eye test? What are we actually diagnosing when we agree Mitchell is a rising star?
Mitchell is athletic. Everyone who watched him at Louisville knew that. But the way Mitchell deploys that gift — his functional athleticism — is evident in the moves he uses, many of which resemble familiar star scorers.
(Watch the video up top. There’s way more.)
Mitchell’s stats match the spectacle. His usage is remarkably high for a rookie guard, but his shooting efficiency does not suffer for the volume. Compared to some high-usage rookie guards who became All-Stars, Mitchell’s accuracy is looking great so far:
When the Jazz lost Gordon Hayward, they figured they’d have to replace him by committee, but with skills and numbers like this, Mitchell is ready to assume that role basically by himself. Utah capitalizes on Mitchell’s readiness by throwing him into a lot of the same sets as Hayward, and by getting him the ball in motion, looping around a big man to gain separation and speed:
If his defender hangs behind the screening center, Mitchell can pull up. If his man tries to tail him, he can accelerate toward the rim, where that functional athleticism comes back into a play for a variety of finishing moves.
The kid is a star. Right now. Like Mitchell’s mentor Chris Paul says, Utah got themselves a gem.