One of the biggest stories of this year’s NBA Playoffs has been the outstanding play of Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell.
Many first year players struggle in their first postseason experience, but Mitchell has been up to the task in leading the Jazz to a first round victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and so far stealing a road game from the top-seeded Houston Rockets.
Mitchell’s play has drawn the attention of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who dedicated the latest episode of his ESPN series “Detail” to the rookie’s performance against the Rockets in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinals series.
Mitchell has also been watching highlights of Bryant and drawing inspiration from his famed ‘Mamba Mentality.’ Coincidentally, one of his favorite things to watch is Kobe’s performance against the Jazz in the 2009 playoffs, per Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News:
“I watched the ’09 series against the Jazz, over and over again, because the way he responded after losing in Game 3 at home and he came out and hit like the first 11 points,” Mitchell described. “That mentality is one that I’m trying to get in myself, just being able to take over in any way that I can.”
Mitchell added that he has only recently been drawn to watching film of Bryant as he wasn’t really a fan growing up:
“The coolest thing about that is that I wasn’t a Kobe fan growing up,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t understand how much time and his presence and how hard he worked on his game and being in my first year in the league he’s become one of my favorite players to watch. I think that’s the coolest thing.”
Mitchell has been very Kobe-like in these playoffs so far, averaging 26.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and four assists in eight games. Even though voting for Rookie of the Year is already done, the playoffs have only made a stronger case for those who believes he is deserving of the award.
The fact that he is watching players like Kobe as he looks to improve should only make him even better and he is clearly one of the brightest young stars the league has to offer.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB