The Jazz entered the bubble with Donovan Mitchell‘s and Rudy Gobert‘s relationship reportedly appearing unsalvageable. Bojan Bogdanovic missed the entire restart to injury. Mike Conley missed the start of the playoffs for the birth of his child.
Mitchell, via Tony Jones of The Athletic:
We went from being an “unsalvageable” team three months ago to this, and I don’t think anybody outside of us expected that,” Mitchell said. “I’m happy with the way we played, obviously not the result. Look man, like, we’ve got things that we know we can fix and like I said, we felt like we kind of gave (away) situations when we had control of the series and we let it get out of hand.
“If you had told us before coming here that we’d have control of the series 3-1 without Bojan, not to say I would have said you were lying, I have complete faith in us, but some of that just didn’t seem, I guess a team like that it didn’t seem as real as it was, but we just got down here and we worked and everybody just locked in, from the rookies to the coaches, but we just got to do more. With Bojan coming back, not putting everything on Bojan, but with him coming back it’s another weapon. This won’t happen again.”
Like Booker, Mitchell is clearly saying this to hold himself to a high standard. That can be helpfully motivating.
It can also make players look silly. The Suns haven’t made the playoffs in the two seasons since Booker said that.
The Jazz made moves to accelerate their ascent last summer, trading for Conley and signing Bogdanovic. With those two on the wrong side of 30, Utah wanted to accomplish more this season. The costs – the surrendered draft picks and financial flexibility – will be felt later.
The Jazz’s window isn’t closed, though. Conley developed better chemistry with his new teammates as the season progressed. Gobert remains in his prime. And Mitchell isn’t going anywhere.
After an impressive first three seasons, he sounds even more committed to carrying Utah forward.