Donovan Mitchell enters a new era in his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers this fall, and hopes abound that the All-Star guard can bring the city a Larry O’Brien Trophy, one they haven’t won in six years.
Heading into training camp, Mitchell has challenged himself to be a leader defensively, acknowledging that his biggest weakness has been on the less glamorous side of the court, and the only way this team reaches its destiny is with him committing to be an elite two-way backcourt.
“I can play defense. I know that for a fact,” Mitchell said confidently, per Cavaliers Nation. “I haven’t shown that, and that is what I’m looking forward to doing here.”
The three-time All-Star will be holding down the backcourt with rising young talent, Darius Garland. His play last year with the Cavs earned him his first All-Star selection, and it came by way of his elite playmaking and scoring and his swiper instincts defensively, averaging 1.3 steals a game during the regular season. Though the Cavs didn’t make the playoffs, this upcoming season’s hopes are much higher than simply making the playoffs.
Mitchell may have averaged 1.5 steals a game in his final season with the Utah Jazz, but it didn’t mitigate any narrative that Mitchell will commit to playing defense.
If the Louisville product does decide to play hard on the defensive side, it could elevate him into the top 10 player conversation around the League. Defense wins championships, and the Cavaliers roster knows that Evan Mobley can defend well in the paint; it’s just up to Mitchell to provide that spark against an East packed with dangerous guards.
He’ll start with the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 19 in Scotiabank Arena.
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