Stephen A. Smith and the word “bold” seemingly go together. The ESPN pundit never minces words and always seems to come up with outrageous takes. The latest one involved Utah Jazz legends Karl Malone and John Stockton and current star Donovan Mitchell.
After watching the Jazz take a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals, Smith decided to take a massive shot at Malone and Stockton while praising Mitchell.
Donovan Mitchell torched the Clippers in Games 1 and 2
Mitchell went off against the Clippers in Games 1 and 2. He scored 45 points in Game 1 and 37 in Game 2, thoroughly outplaying Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Jazz are 6-0 in the 2021 playoffs when Mitchell plays. Their only loss of the postseason came in Game 1 of the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies when the All-Star shooting guard was out due to injury.
In six games against the Grizzlies and Clippers, Mitchell is averaging 32.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists while shooting 48.2% from the field, 41.9% from beyond the arc, and 87.8% from the free-throw line. He has firmly established himself as one of the best guards in the NBA and is two wins away from leading the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2007.
Through two games, the Clippers have had zero answers for Mitchell. Whether it’s Leonard or George or Patrick Beverley guarding him, the Jazz superstar has had his way on offense and is getting to his spots with ease. With the help of his mentor, Miami Heat legend and Jazz minority governor Dwyane Wade, Mitchell has taken his game to the next level and looks unstoppable.
Smith loves what he sees from Mitchell in these playoffs, so much so that he has no problem taking shots at Malone and Stockton while gushing over the Louisville product.
Stephen A. Smith says Donovan Mitchell, not Karl Malone or John Stockton, is the greatest Jazz player ever
Smith says Mitchell, not Malone or Stockton, is the greatest Jazz player ever. Malone and Stockton led Utah to back-to-back Finals in ’97 and ’98, where they lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls both times. Despite Mitchell only being in his fourth year in the NBA, Stephen A. believes the youngster is already the greatest Jazz player of all time.
“Donovan Mitchell is a superstar,” Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN’s Get Up. “Make no mistake about it. Donovan Mitchell is D-Wade 2.0. Donovan Mitchell is a closer. Donovan Mitchell is outplaying both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and the brother is 24. There’s nothing that this brother cannot do. In Utah already, I don’t wanna hear about Karl Malone. I don’t wanna hear about John Stockton. That’s the best player in the history of the Jazz organization right there. I just said it, and I ain’t stuttering.”
This is a dashing take by Smith, considering that Malone averaged 25.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 steals during his Hall of Fame run with the Jazz, won two MVPs, and is first in franchise history in points, minutes played, field goals, free throws, and total rebounds. The Mailman is also second in NBA history in points.
Mitchell is undoubtedly a better scorer than Stockton. However, the latter is arguably the best passer of all time. He dished out 15,806 assists during his career, which is first in NBA history. Stockton is also first in Jazz history in games played, 3-pointers, steals, assists per game, and steals per game.
Mitchell has a long way to go before we can put him in Malone and Stockton territory. After all, he hasn’t reached the NBA Finals, won an MVP award, or set any NBA records yet. Now, that’s not to say he can’t accomplish any of those feats in the future, but he hasn’t passed Malone or Stockton at this juncture.
It would be a treat to see the Jazz and Suns meet in the WCF
Both the Jazz and Phoenix Suns are two wins away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals. It would be a treat to watch that series since we would get to see Mitchell go head-to-head with Devin Booker and Rudy Gobert square off against Deandre Ayton.
However, neither the Jazz nor Suns can get ahead of themselves. While they both took care of homecourt advantage in their first two games of the semifinals, they have to go on the road and win in hostile environments, and that’s easier said than done in the postseason.
It will be fascinating to see if Mitchell and Booker wind up meeting in the Western Conference Finals. They are two of the brightest young stars in the NBA and aren’t afraid of the big moment.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.