5 worn out misconceptions Cleveland Cavaliers have proven wrong this season

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Misconception No. 2 - "Donovan Mitchell is a bad defender"

In the 2017 NBA Draft, Donovan Mitchell was viewed as a defensive specialist guard, standing at an undersized 6-foot 2-inches with a massive 6-foot 10-inches wingspan. His offense, ironically, was seen as his weak spot with a lot of room for growth. In his seventh season, the league's perspective on Mitchell has entirely changed. The offensive dynamo has shown little to no defensive impact for the majority of his NBA tenure.

Many onlookers have entirely forgotten about Mitchell's defensive capabilities. When he ran the offense in Utah, he was the only true scorer on the roster. By the end of the game, he had no energy left to play defense. It also becomes all too tempting to slack off on defense with an defensive anchor such as Rudy Gobert winning numerous Defensive Player of the Year awards behind you.

When the Cavaliers paired Mitchell with Darius Garland, the undersized backcourt's lack of defense was immediately an area of concern. It seemingly justified the cries for Mitchell to have ended up in New York, where somehow the defensive liability of Jalen Brunson would have not been a problem for whatever reason. In his second season with the Cavs, Mitchell is proving this agenda wrong. While he is not an All-Defense guy, he is tied for fourth-highest average steals per game (1.8) and is posting an above average defensive impact with a 0.35 D-LEBRON score, per BBall-Index (subscription required).

His overall defense is still his weakest skillset, but Mitchell has gone from a net-negative defender in his earlier seasons to a sneakily productive perimeter guard. He has also posted a career high in defensive rebounds (4.5) per game, helping the Cavs end possessions after forcing a tough shot. His athletic leaping ability and long arms have made their impression this season, helping the Cavaliers earn the third best defensive rating (110.8) this season.