NBA Scout Speaks On Hot Start For Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the most surprising teams during the 2021-22 NBA season. While they fell short in the NBA Play-In Tournament, losing to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks, it was a very successful season as they won 44 games, the most for a non-LeBron James team since the 1997-98 campaign.

Looking to build off of that momentum, the team made a huge splash in the offseason acquiring Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz in a blockbuster trade. Adding Mitchell to a core of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen gave the Cavaliers one of the best quartets in the NBA to build around.

Expectations were heightened, as the playoffs became the bare minimum for Cleveland. But, with how they have performed thus far this season, they look like they could be legitimate contenders as soon as these upcoming playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

Mitchell has been excellent, averaging 31.1 points per game as the team was without Garland for five games after he suffered a laceration to his eyelid in the season opener when Gary Trent Jr. accidentally poked him in the eye. What has really been impressive for Mitchell, according to one NBA scout that spoke to NBA Analysis Network, is that he is finally showcasing that defensive potential he had coming out of Louisville.

“Donovan is playing the best defense I’ve seen from him in years. That alone tells me he’s locked in. I was most impressed with how he was defending while Garland was out. That shows real commitment. … Having Garland as a backcourt partner will allow Mitchell to pick his spots more and have more left to offer on defense throughout the season.”

LATEST NBA NEWS: Donovan Mitchell & Cleveland Cavaliers Updates

Mitchell is listed at only 6’1”, giving the Cavaliers a very small backcourt. But, he possesses a 6’10” wingspan, providing him the length to match up with any backcourt players and on some occasions, even some wing players.

While the 6-1 start is nice, there is still plenty of work to be done in Cleveland. This is a team that is probably one more wing player short of truly contending with the top teams in the Eastern Conference long-term despite their early season success.

“I still think the Cavs need to find another wing, but they’ve got a great team. There’s big potential with their backcourt. They can attack favorable matchups and hunt switches easier than most teams with two dynamic guards. It’s a major luxury that both of them thrive at attacking off the catch and are good playmakers out of ball screens, too. The fit is there, and Mitchell seems to be embracing it.”

LATEST NBA NEWS: Donovan Mitchell & Cleveland Cavaliers Updates

Alas, even as currently constructed, the Cavaliers are going to be a tough out. They have enough offensive firepower with Mitchell and Garland to hang with the most dynamic of opponents and have paired them with elite defenders in the frontcourt.

“It’s not going to be easy to beat this team in a playoff series. Their two bigs make it challenging to score in the half-court, and you’re now going to have to keep up with their explosive backcourt putting up big numbers. To me, the best part is that both Mobley and Allen have to be accounted for offensively — a big difference for Mitchell going from Gobert. … When either Mitchell or Garland gets hot, many teams will be in trouble.”

LATEST NBA NEWS: Donovan Mitchell & Cleveland Cavaliers Updates

There isn’t a tougher big-man combination to score on around the basket than Mobley and Allen. Both are elite rim protectors and Mobley has Defensive Player of the Year potential with his ability to defend the paint and play on the perimeter.

But, in the postseason, the key is having players that can create offense as things slow down and are played more in the halfcourt. Cleveland has that in Mitchell and Garland and has the right pieces around them for this team to make a deep run in the playoffs.