Traveling back in time for a minute to hear the electricity and joy that filled the arena when Donovan Mitchell suited up for the Louisville Cardinals.
At this time the Cardinals were an AP Top 25 team because the product on the floor was a combination of the polarizing Rick Pitino and the caliber of athletes that donned the Cardinal red. For example, Mitchell suited up alongside a couple of graduate transfers in guards Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, a couple of hometown talents in Quentin Snider and Ray Spalding, and a couple of world travelers in Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel.
When the season came to completion, the Cardinals finished with an impressive record of 23-8 with Donovan Mitchell contributing an average of 7.4 points a game. However, Louisville was unable to go to the postseason tournament due to their self-imposed postseason ban amid the escort probe facilitated by the NCAA. A heartbreaking end to an incredible season for the Cardinals.
But Mitchell would return to Louisville for one more season despite a crushing end to the season the previous year. In the absence of Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, he would improve his average up to 15.6 points per game. His performance throughout the season would propel him to becoming the thirteenth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft selected by the Utah Jazz.
The New York native made his new home in Utah but it was not all roses during his tenure there. After the team’s failure to produce in the postseason consistently, tensions began to rise between the budding stars of the Utah Jazz franchise, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Both stars were cordial on the court and both stars made an impact on the court in their own ways but off the court things were not so cordial.
When the COVID-19 virus was introduced into the United States, the whole nation shut down and the root cause of the NBA shutting down was due to Rudy Gobert’s carelessness in mocking the virus. Gobert put his hands on all of the microphones at a post-game press conference and ended up testing positive for the virus followed by Donovan Mitchell soon after.
From there, they tried to mend their relationship for the 2020-2021 NBA season but Utah failed to produce in the postseason again and Gobert seemed to take a shot at Mitchell during a press conference seemingly fracturing their relationship beyond repair.
On top of the fractured relationship with Gobert, the Jazz were not in a financial situation to be able to support the Mitchell-Gobert duo so they saw it best to blow the team up and go into full rebuild mode. Luckily, they have Danny Ainge at the helm of the decision-making and his rebuild in Boston went stellar with a little bit of luck from the bouncing of some ping-pong balls.
So Utah traded Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, an organization with some amazing young talent and a bright future ahead of them. Mitchell had to go through the gauntlet of the Western Conference and now is suiting up for an Eastern Conference team who has to go through the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, among others.
The road is not that easy but a new situation for him may produce a newfound vigor in him that could propel the Cavaliers into the playoffs.