Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell put on an epic postseason performance in the first round against the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 36.3 points per game across the seven-game series, and became just the third player in NBA history -- along with Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson -- to have two 50-point performances in the same series (a feat that was matched a few days later by the Nuggets' Jamal Murray). Ultimately, though, Mitchell's otherworldly output wasn't enough to lift the Jazz over the Nuggets in the series, but it certainly left an indelible impression on all who watched.
Mitchell has established himself as one of the league's best young players, and someone the Jazz plan to build around for the foreseeable future. When free agency begins in October, Mitchell and the Jazz are expected to finalize a max contract extension, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Mitchell will be eligible for a max rookie extension, which equates to five years and around $170 million.
The Jazz selected Mitchell with the 13th overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, and he has continued to improve since. His average points per game, rebounds and assists have improved in each of his first three seasons, and he was named to his first All-Star team this season. His shooting percentages from the the floor, the foul line, and from long range have also improved. At just 23 years old, Mitchell is still several years away from his peak as a player, which should be a scary thought for the rest of the league. After the Jazz were eliminated by the Nuggets, Mitchell told media members that he was just "scratching the surface" as a player.
"This isn't the last of it. This is me scratching the surface," Mitchell said, via ESPN. "I know what I can do, how hard I've worked, how hard this team has worked. This won't be the end of it. That's what's fueling me. This ain't the end. This is just the beginning. I'm ready to go hoop again right now. I think we all are. This is just the beginning."
Although Mitchell is well aware that he still has a lot of work to do as he continues to climb to the top of the league's elite, he's also unafraid to acknowledge the fact that he's already taken major steps in the direction that he wants to head in.
"For myself ... I can't lie to you, I was surprised by certain little things that I've done and accomplished," Mitchell said. "But it's nothing I haven't worked on. There were criticisms of what I could do on the offensive and defensive end, and I feel like I've taken a step in the right direction."
After two consecutive first-round exits, the Jazz will have to make some roster adjustments to make sure that they're as formidable as possible in what projects to be an extremely competitive Western Conference next season and beyond. Locking Mitchell up long-term is a great start though, as just having him in the lineup gives the Jazz plenty of reason for optimism moving forward.