There’s no telling where the 2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers would be without Donovan Mitchell.
Since the team lost star guard Darius Garland in its season opener, Mitchell has found himself in a position where he’s needed to carry a huge load, and he has answered the call.
The Cavs are 5-1, but they could easily be around .500 or worse if not for Mitchell.
The 26-year-old has certainly impressed Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff so far. After Cleveland’s win over the New York Knicks on Sunday, Bickerstaff had nothing but good things to say about Mitchell.
“I don’t know all that he was asked to do when he was in Utah,” Bickerstaff said. “But what I’ve seen from him is a really complete basketball player. I’ve seen a guy who’s willing to compete on the defensive end at a high level. I’ve seen a guy who’s willing to take challenges on that end of the floor. And I’ve seen a guy who’s been willing over and over again just to make the right pass and make the easy pass, on top of going out and scoring the basketball. I could be wrong. He was in the Western Conference so I didn’t see him, but he just seems…he’s a better, complete player than I thought, just in the times that I saw him and wasn’t able to dissect him. But being around him every day, there’s nothing that he’s not capable of doing on the basketball court.”
Mitchell dropped 38 points and 12 assists in the win over New York. In the previous game, he went for 41 points.
On the season, the three-time All-Star is averaging 32.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from deep. He will very likely become a four-time All-Star later this season.
It’s truly impressive what the Cavs have been able to accomplish without Garland, who was arguably the team’s most important player last season. When the youngster returns, Cleveland will likely become an even bigger nightmare for opposing squads to deal with.
The Cavs have three games scheduled this week. The first game will come on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics, who Cleveland just knocked off a few days back.
After Wednesday’s game, the squad will start a long road trip that includes games against the Detroit Pistons (Friday) and Los Angeles Lakers (Sunday). Those are both very winnable games for Cleveland.
The season is still very young, but the Cavs look like one of the better teams in all of basketball right now. They were perhaps the best story in the NBA last season, and they could end up being the best story in the league once again this time around.