Donovan Mitchell burst onto the scene this year as not just one of the NBA’s best rookies, but as a bonafide star in the league. He’s cemented that status with his performance thus far in the playoffs, averaging 27.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game through the first four games of Utah’s first round series against the Thunder.
Mitchell’s performance in Game 4 was nothing short of spectacular as he put up 33 points as the Jazz thumped the Thunder to take a commanding 3-1 series lead back to Oklahoma City. The rookie guard appears to not feel the nerves of the big stage, but in actuality he’s just able to handle the stress better than most.
While Mitchell is now a household name for NBA fans thanks to his play for the Jazz down the stretch of the regular season and in the postseason, the casual fan’s introduction to Mitchell may have been at this year’s NBA Dunk Contest. Mitchell brought out all the stops en route to a dunk contest win as a rookie, taking advantage of the spotlight on the stage that is NBA All-Star Saturday Night.
All season, Mitchell has been followed by cameras as Young Hollywood has produced a “Rookie on the Rise” series on Mitchell’s first year in the league. Young Hollywood provided Dime with an exclusive look at the 10th episode in the series as Mitchell takes viewers behind the scenes for his Dunk Contest prep, how nervous he was, and why it meant so much to him.
As Mitchell notes in the video, he was feeling the pressure of being on the big stage, but as he’s shown this postseason that only seems to bring out the best in the rookie. In his words, he was preparing for the Dunk Contest like he was “preparing for Game 7 of the Finals.” He also shows how Kevin Hart getting involved in one of his dunks came together the day of the contest as the two crossed paths at an event and Hart was kind enough to be willing to get dunked on.
Mitchell has proven this season that he’s much more than just a high flyer, but for many fans that Saturday night in L.A. was the first time they got to see just how bright Mitchell’s star is. Now he’s getting a chance to build on that in the postseason and he’s taking full advantage of this opportunity as well, and the Jazz seem poised to provide quite the challenge for the top teams in the West this season and for many more to come.
More episodes of “Rookie on the Rise” can be viewed on Young Hollywood‘s YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and social media feeds, as well as on their app on Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and more.