Donovan Mitchell continues to preach improving on defense: ‘This is a top 5 defense…I’m not looking to bring it down’

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell recently delivered an intriguing message about how he wants to improve on the defensive side of the ball in the 2022-23 season.

Mitchell, who has been criticized at times for his defense in his NBA career, explained that having more proven offensive players alongside him will allow him to give more effort on the defensive end of the floor.

This is great news for the Cavs, who traded a treasure trove of assets to bring Mitchell to Cleveland. Now that he’s playing alongside Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, Mitchell may not have as much of an offensive burden as he did with the Utah Jazz.

Mitchell has been adamant this offseason about improving on the defensive end in the 2022-23 campaign. He was constantly exposed on defense throughout last season’s playoffs.

In fact, there had been many questions about whether Mitchell could play alongside another small guard such as Jalen Brunson had he been dealt to the New York Knicks.

Now, Mitchell will pair with Garland, another small guard, in the Cavs backcourt.

In each of the last three seasons, Mitchell has posted a negative defensive box plus/minus. In Cleveland, Mitchell will still have great rim protection behind him in Allen and Mobley after playing with Rudy Gobert on the Jazz.

For what he lacks on the defensive end, Mitchell is a terrific offensive player.

During the 2021-22 regular season, he averaged 25.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from beyond the arc.

The three-time All-Star should help the Cavs solve the offensive issues they experienced towards the end of last season when Garland was out of the lineup.

The Cavs and their fans certainly have to appreciate Mitchell’s willingness to commit to being a better defender. If he does end up improving on that end, the Cavs will be a much better team because of it.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.