Cavs’ Mitchell can help prepare Garland in this way for what’s ahead

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

It’s still sinking in that seemingly for the foreseeable future, Donovan Mitchell will be with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mitchell was acquired in a blockbuster trade between Cleveland and the Utah Jazz, where Mitchell spent his first five seasons.

The haul was a considerable one for Utah in that deal, and guys such as Collin Sexton (via sign-and-trade) and Lauri Markkanen, among other pieces down the line possibly via the draft, are players Utah can rebuild with.

For the Cavaliers, I do understand where they were coming from, though. With Mitchell in the fold, Cleveland has three All-Stars on its roster from last season, with Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen making their All-Star debuts back in February, repping the then-hometown team.

With the Mitchell move, that gives the Cavaliers two big-time shot-makers and pick-and-roll threats, and not to discount Sexton, Mitchell is just a better secondary playmaker in terms of vision/timing, too, paired with it. Currently, Mitchell is far more of a volume three-point shooter as well; Sexton is younger, in fairness, and we’ll see how his career shakes out with the Jazz and I’ll always be a huge fan of his.

As it pertains to how Mitchell could aid the Cavs, for another added element, his postseason experience is not something that should be glossed over. Even with not a boatload of success with Utah in that aspect, Mitchell himself made his imprint, and then some, and to me, that could pay off for Garland, in particular, too.

With his postseason experiences thus far, Mitchell can help prepare Garland for what’s ahead seemingly in years to come.

I’m well aware that Garland and this iteration of the Cavaliers, involving their key young core young pieces aside from Mitchell have not had much postseason experience. Jarrett Allen had a bit with the Brooklyn Nets back in 2019.

Mitchell’s Utah teams only twice made it to the Western Conference Semifinals in five postseasons, and unfortunately blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the bubble a couple of seasons ago in the first round.

That being said, his experiences as an offensive focal point can aid Garland in years to come, in the event the Cavaliers do make noise in the postseason. Garland and Mitchell are different players with Mitchell as more of a score-first guard/combo, but from a leadership standpoint, and just passing what he’s seen defensively onto Garland, can make a difference for Garland for what’s seemingly ahead.

And Mitchell, on a positive note, has had some incredible performances in the postseason offensively, too, as evidenced by him having career postseason averages of 28.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists per outing in 39 games. I get it’s only been 39 games; still, he’s seventh in NBA history in postseason points per game.

So, from my perspective, as we alluded to, Mitchell’s postseason exposure should help prepare Garland, especially, given their offensive skill sets, for what lies ahead. That’s of course provided the Cavaliers can keep ascending as a team, of which should be the expectation, based on their resurgence last season.

Now, I acknowledge that we don’t know how Garland and others, such as Evan Mobley, will play in their first postseason experience, which could very well be this coming season. But there were encouraging signs from Mobley in his play-in appearances this past season, whereas Garland had one great performance and one dud; those games were big for him, either way.

Generally, however, the Cavaliers can take solace in knowing that Mitchell has had his share of postseason play already, even at still only 26, and given his role for the team moving forward, that can aid other young core pieces. And Garland, I believe, even more so can benefit from an on and off-floor standpoint, with his playmaking and scoring capabilities, combined with the leadership standpoint, for what hopefully lies ahead.

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But it’s up to Mitchell, Garland and the Wine and Gold to ensure that they go out and prove that they’re a potential contender, though. This team hasn’t proven anything yet and the Eastern Conference is loaded.