Utah Jazz All-Star and their most prolific scorer of the season, Donovan Mitchell, recently suffered an injury that is expected to keep him out of NBA action for a number of weeks. This comes as a huge loss to the Utah Jazz who were looking to lock down the top position in the NBA Western Conference in the coming weeks.
Donovan Mitchell has also been the league’s second highest scorer since the All-Star break. He has been one of the biggest reasons behind the Utah Jazz’s astounding success this season and has been a constant. Mitchell had only missed two games throughout the entire season until his recent injury.
Donovan Mitchell – The star guard’s return
Donovan Mitchell suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter of the Jazz’s victory over the Indiana Pacers on 17th April. Mitchell had landed awkwardly on his right foot underneath Indiana Pacers guard Edward Sommer. He was helped off the court by teammate Royce O’Neale and looking in considerable pain. An MRI scan later revealed that no structural damage had taken place, meaning Donovan Mitchell should return well in time for the NBA playoffs.
Without Donovan Mitchell, the rest of the Utah Jazz’s deep roster will have to step up. ESPN has reported that the shooting-guard’s ankle is going to be re-evaluated after a week. Though no return date having yet been confirmed by official sources, since there is no structural damage, he is expected to return within two weeks and should be available for the game against the Denver Nuggets.
Donovan Mitchell’s teammate and two-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert had spoken about the injury after the match against the Pacers and said that Mitchell was in good spirits despite the setback.
“I didn’t see what happened on the play. I saw him in the locker room, he was in great spirits, so hopefully, we can get him back soon. I didn’t see the play. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t know where he was hurt at first, but hopefully it’s nothing serious, and he can be back soon.”
Head coach Quin Snyder also hoped that the injury was not “serious,” and suggested that his team does not need to do anything differently in order to keep winning matches.
Utah Jazz without Donovan Mitchell this season
Due to Donovan Mitchell’s consistency and lack of injuries this season, the Utah Jazz haven’t had to play a lot of times without their star shooting guard. Mitchell had started all but 3 of the 52 games that the Utah Jazz had played before their match against the Indiana Pacers. Since then, the Utah Jazz have played 7 further games and have an overall record of 6-4 in Mitchell’s absence.
While it is obvious that every team is bound to struggle if the top-scorer goes missing, the Utah Jazz have not been too bad and won twice against Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks and once against the injury-ravaged LA Lakers in the games Mitchell has missed.
But Mitchell, a 2-time All-Star, has averaged 26.4 points, 5.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1 steal per game and has improved his 3-point shooting as well.
He now takes around 8.7 3-point attempts per game and has an efficiency of almost 39%. Numbers apart, Mitchell also brings defensive intensity and energy to the Utah Jazz lineup and has developed a good understanding with All-Star Center Rudy Gobert.
While consistency has been an issue for the Utah Jazz in recent games, they do have the depth to make up for the extra offensive responsibility.
In recent games, the likes of Joe Ingles, Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic have all responded with increased offensive output. Mike Conley has continued his All-Star form but has also missed a couple of matches. Both Bojan Bogdanovic and Ingles have scored at least 20 points thrice in their last 7 games.
This also includes the 154-point performance that Utah Jazz registered in the absence of Donovan Mitchell against the Sacramento Kings. However, the Utah Jazz will be well aware that they do lack offensive fuel, especially when facing the better defenses in the NBA, without their star man.
A case in point is the recent loss to the Phoenix Suns when Bogdanovic top-scored with 22 points and the rest of the roster all shot well below their average numbers. Additionally, Jordan Clarkson is a shoe-in for the NBA sixth man-of-the-year award and perfectly capable of making up for a bad shooting night from one or more of his teammates.
Regardless, while the Utah Jazz still look like the real deal without Donovan Mitchell, his return will again make them optimistic of launching a title challenge this year.