Donovan Mitchell: “I care about the team, not about stats”
Donovan Mitchell celebrated his 23rd birthday this week, and there is one present he'd really love from China.
It's small, gold, hangs from your neck, and would be the reward for winning Sunday's 2019 FIBA World Cup final.
The USA men's team shooting guard is a rising star of the NBA, and world basketball.
A product of Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, he was the number 13 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, due to his obvious talent, class, and potential.
The selfless NBA star
In his NBA rookie season (2017-18), the 1.91m Utah Jazz.baller averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals, while in 2018-19 his respective figures were 23.8, 4.1, 4.2, and 1.4.
“The NBA is one thing, the National Team is another,” he told Olympic Channel after the game against Brazil, where Team USA improved their perfect record to 5-0 and guaranteed their place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“In the national team I don’t care too much about scoring. This is not what I was called up to do. At this point I care about winning, not stats." - Donovan Mitchell to Olympic Channel at FIBA World Cup 2019.
"How many points did I score today? Four? Six? What is important to me is that I got six rebounds, dished out seven assists, and tried to be a leader at both ends of the floor.”
Keeping it real
Mitchell was still self-critical in the wake of the Brazil game.
"I always look back at my mistakes, like a three-pointer I allowed, or a silly foul I committed.”
However, the Jazz star is clearly enjoying his time representing the national team.
“It is wonderful and exciting to represent your country in major tournaments such as the World Cup or the Olympic Games.
"I feel that I respond to a very special challenge, playing against teams from different countries. Maybe it is a little tiring to play almost every day, but we’re used to that thanks to the NBA routine.” - Donovan Mitchell to Olympic Channel.
Mitchell is one of four American players averaging double digits in scoring in the tournament, the others being Kemba Walker, Jason Tatum, and Harrison Barnes.
After the first five games, Mitchell has 10.2 points, 4.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds, making himself one of the cornerstones of Gregg Popovich’s squad.
The task ahead
Next up for Team USA is France in the quarter-final on Wednesday (11th September), and Mitchell cannot wait to face-off against his Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert.
“It will be fun playing against each other, and there’s going to be a lot of trash talk involved. Rudy is a magnificent player, and I’m glad we’re in the same team.
"He’s the anchor of every defense. Besides, he has been voted Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA, which says a lot in itself. A little while ago, in our two exhibition games in Australia, I played against Joe Ingles.
"Now is Gobert’s turn, and I think it’s much fun playing against your own teammates.”