After earning the top seed in 2021, the Utah Jazz suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, validating many of the doubters and haters who said they were never true contenders to begin with.
But one has to wonder if things might have been different had Donovan Mitchell, Utah's shining star, been fully healthy throughout their run.
According to the young guard himself, it limited some of what he was able to do offensively.
“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).”
Now, it seems that Mitchell is actually grateful for that injury, as it allowed him to grow and adapt his game.
Apparently, his ankle feels good and he's back at full strength.
“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.”
Mitchell, 25, is a 2x All-Star and 23-point-per-game scorer. Following a sour end to his most recent campaign, he'll be playing with a major chip on his shoulder this season.
Only time will tell how far he'll be able to take the Jazz this time.