Donovan Mitchell in Rare Company After Reaching Scoring Mark Only LeBron James and Kevin Durant Have Achieved Faster
Since Donovan Mitchell made his NBA debut in 2017, he’s been more than impressive. During that time, the 24-year-old Mitchell has set numerous team and NBA records on offense as he’s helped guide the Utah Jazz into the postseason each year. Over the weekend, Donovan Mitchell scored the 5,000th point of his career. To put it in context, only two other active players have managed to reach that number faster than Mitchell, and both are future Hall of Famers.
Donovan Mitchell’s impressive early career
The Denver Nuggets selected Donovan Mitchell as the No. 13th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. The Nuggets then proceeded to trade Mitchell to the Utah Jazz in exchange for a later draft pick and Trey Lyles. It’s a move that’s worked out quite nicely for the Jazz.
In Utah, Mitchell has been outstanding. In his first season with the Jazz, he started in 71 games and led the team in scoring with an average of 20.5 points per game. He also helped the Jazz reach the playoffs where they defeated the OKC Thunder in the first round before losing in the second round to the Houston Rockets. Mitchell was named to the All-Rookie team.
The following season, the 6-foot-1 Mitchell managed to improve on his rookie season averaging 23.8 points per game, which was 15th best in the NBA. During the 2019-20 campaign, Mitchell has continued his upward trend on the offensive end, where he has averaged a team-leading 24 points per game. He was also named to his first All-Star team.
Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in feud
While the 2019-20 season has been the best of Donovan Mitchell’s young career, it hasn’t been without its challenges. Mitchell found himself center stage back in March when his teammate Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Days after Gobert’s positive test and the start of the NBA shutdown, Mitchell became the second NBA player to test positive for the virus. And he wasn’t happy.
Gobert tried to contact his teammate through various platforms. Mitchell didn’t respond. He blamed Gobert for getting the virus as a result of his careless behavior, which the whole world witnessed when Gobert touched reporters’ microphones and recorders at the end of a press conference.
In early July, Mitchell spoke publicly for the first time about the pair’s relationship. “Right now, we’re good,” Mitchell said in a virtual news conference with reporters. “We’re going out there ready to hoop.”
Mitchell’s comments weren’t exactly a ringing endorsement of his relationship with the French center, but it was enough to show he was ready to move forward with the season, and possibly a deep run in the playoffs.
Donovan Mitchell becomes third behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant
On Thursday, July 30, the Utah Jazz and stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell took the floor for the NBA’s first game back in the restart of the season at the bubble in Orlando. It was just like old times. Gobert scored the first bucket and the last two free throws to win the game, and Mitchell added 20 points in the winning effort.
Two days later, the pair returned to the floor as the Jazz played the OKC Thunder. Mitchell didn’t have one of his better games scoring just 13 in a 110-94 loss, but he reached an impressive mark in the process scoring the 5,000th point of his career. He achieved the feat in 221 games.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Mitchell scored his 5,000th point faster than every other active player in the NBA except LeBron James and Kevin Durant. James accomplished the feat in 197 games, and Durant did it in 205 games.
Donovan Mitchell has proven in three years he’s one of the top young players in the NBA. Now, he’s accomplished an offensive feat that puts him in the company of James and Durant. For any NBA player, that’s good company to keep.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.