The Utah Jazz were the best team in the NBA during the regular season. They had the best record in the league and secured the number one seed in the Western Conference. But the post-season didn't pan out the same way.
The Jazz suffered injuries to major stars, most notably Donovan Mitchell. So after they got past the Memphis Grizzlies, they were knocked out by the LA Clippers in the second round of the playoffs.
Mitchell getting injured was a big loss for the Jazz. He was arguably their best player throughout the season, even earning an All-Star nomination during the season. And his combination with Defensive Player Of The Year Rudy Gobert was a big part of their success in the West.
But Donovan Mitchell believes that his injury was the nail in the coffin for the Jazz during this playoff run. During an interview with The Athletic, Mitchell shed light on his recovery process and thoughts on the last season.
“I’ve kind of got to a point where I’m appreciative of the injury for myself,” Mitchell said. “For my personal growth on and off the floor, I think that injury really — and you know me, Sam, like I love jumping through, around you or over you — (but) that injury kept me on the ground for the entire playoffs, and it allowed me to have to make decisions on the ground. Slow it down. Different things that really opened things up to (where) I was like, ‘OK, this is another level, (a) layer of my game that I can get to without (the athleticism).
“But now you’re adding back the jumping and the athleticism. The ankle feels good. I’ll be ready to go. I think last year definitely was shaky. There were just so many different obstacles with the ankle and whatnot, but — like I said — no slight to Phoenix or Milwaukee or the Clippers, you know, (but) I feel like if we were healthy, you know, we, we get to the Finals. I feel like we (would) win, but you know it’s all easy when you say ifs, ands or buts. It’s easy to say that.”
Mitchell noted that if he did not get injured, along with other members of the Jazz roster, they would have gone to the NBA Finals and won the NBA championship, regardless of how good the Clippers, Suns, and Bucks were in the playoffs.
The Jazz will most likely be running it back next season. And if Mitchell and Gobert can continue to elevate their level of play, like they did last season, they will once again be a contender in the Western Conference.