The Utah Jazz far exceeded expectations in 2017-18. They lost one of the better two-way wings in the league in Gordon Hayward and had a rough start to the season. From the outside looking in, it was understandable for them to go to a tanking approach. Head coach Quin Snyder was not for that, though, and rookie combo guard Donovan Mitchell got the ball rolling in a huge way.
Mitchell’s rise to stardom was something nobody saw coming in year one. He averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game, propelling Utah to the second round of the postseason. In a jam-packed Western Conference, that’s pretty darn good for a first-year player.
He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, losing out to Philadelphia 76ers point guard extraordinaire Ben Simmons. He won the Slam Dunk Contest and finished with the most made threes in NBA history for a rookie. There’s not much Mitchell could have done better.
After the Jazz started the season at a rocky 20-28 mark, he took the keys to the offense. Mitchell became Utah’s first scoring option, as Snyder and company won 11 straight games. He was scoring the ball in a myriad of ways and enabled Ricky Rubio to make some things happen for himself in the process.
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