In the 2020-21 NBA season, the Utah Jazz had the best record in the league and was poised to make a deep playoff run. That season, Utah had three All-Stars, including star guard Donovan Mitchell.
However, Utah fell short in the second round of the playoffs as they lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in six games. That season may have given Mitchell his best opportunity to win an NBA title until now.
Earlier this month, the three-time All-Star was dealt to the Cavaliers. According to Mitchell, Cleveland, who had two All-Stars in Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland last season, and a player on the rise in Evan Mobley, has the most talent he has ever been around.
“You look at the youth we have, top three team before a lot of injuries,” Mitchell told goforitradio’s Paul Gant at Cavs’ Media Day. “I’m the oldest starter. That’s truly impressive. That’s no sleight to the team we had in Utah. We had a very talented team, but a lot of our guys were older. Mike(Conley) was older, Joe(Ingles) was older, Bojan(Bogdanović), Rudy(Gobert). Those guys were older. Now, you look at the guys here, 21, 22, 20, whatever it is. We have a lot of promise, but ultimately, we have to go out there and put the work in… If we do the right thing, which starts with camp, we can be in good shape.”
As Mitchell mentioned, Cleveland has youth, but more importantly, they have talented youth. Mitchell is only 26; the Cavs have a 22-year-old Garland, a 21-year-old Mobley, and a 24-year-old Allen, so this team can be good for a long time, and Mitchell agrees.
“We have a lot of talent; we can be good for a long time,” Mitchell said. “But, ultimately, we have to do what needs to be done… We have a group that wants to win, that wants to be good, that wants to compete. We have, not just myself, like I said, Ev(Mobley), DG(Garland), JA(Jarrett Allen), Caris LeVert, K-Love(Kevin Love); we just signed Dean Wade to an extension, who is a really big piece of what we do… We have a young, hungry group that wants to compete and wants to win.”
Things could be special in Cleveland for the next few seasons, and Mitchell could be the guy that leads the way. While Cavs President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman says it’s not “contention or bust” this season, the expectation is for the Cavs to be one of the top teams in the East and at least win a round in the playoffs.
Regarding this being the most talent Mitchell has been around in his career, those Jazz teams were talented, but if things develop in Cleveland like many think it will, this team has the potential to be more talented.