J.B. Bickerstaff warns Donovan Mitchell will have ‘explosion’ for Cavs soon amid recent struggles

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes that there is going to be an “explosion” from star guard Donovan Mitchell in the near future.

Mitchell, who returned to the team’s lineup on Nov. 25 against the Los Angeles Lakers, has struggled since dealing with a hamstring injury.

“Donovan knows we have the ultimate belief in him,” Bickerstaff said. “And the law of averages means in the next coming games, there’s going to be an explosion. And we believe in him, his teammates believe in him. But it’s about the team, and his teammates stepped up on a night where he didn’t have a great shooting night, but [Mitchell] didn’t let that deter him either.”

Against the Lakers on Saturday, Mitchell scored 22 points, but he shot a dreadful 4-for-18 from the field in the game. He made up for it by sinking 12 of his 13 attempts from the charity stripe, but it wasn’t a typical game for the Cavs guard.

Cleveland had a quick turnaround, playing the Toronto Raptors in the second leg of a back-to-back on Sunday. The Cavs won that game, but Mitchell once again struggled shooting the ball.

The former first-round pick shot just 4-for-17 from the field against Toronto, scoring 10 points. He also failed to make any of his five attempts from beyond the arc. Since returning from his hamstring strain, Mitchell is a combined 8-for-35 from the field in two games.

Mitchell was an All-NBA selection last season, so there’s no doubt that he can turn things around and play at a higher level.

Bickerstaff clearly believes he can as well, and that should help boost the guard’s confidence as the season goes on.

In the 2023-24 campaign as a whole, Mitchell is averaging 27.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 45.0 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from beyond the arc. His season-long shooting numbers show that the last two games might be a shooting slump – not the norm for him.

Last season, Mitchell averaged a career-high 28.3 points per game while shooting a career-high 48.4 percent from the field. Those numbers were a major reason why he was an All-Star and All-NBA selection.

Hopefully for the Cavs, Mitchell can find that form when the team takes on the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

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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.