Utah Jazz sports decision maker Justin Zanik was brief and concise on what the team needs to change in order to qualify for the 2021-22 season title. «If we are healthy, we are fine. We are really good, “said the executive during the Media Day.
Indeed, the Jazz were not accompanied by physical health at the most important moment of the season after achieving the best record in regular season of the entire NBA. Mike Conley missed most of the Conference Semifinals series against the Clippers due to muscle problems, while Donovan Mitchell suffered from a sprained ankle he suffered a month before the regular season closed.
This injury took him away from Game 1 of the first round of playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, which notably frustrated the guard. He would return for the rest of the post-season games. Despite signing some outstanding numbers, the pain finally returned, limiting his production and mobility on the court.
Now, Mitchell has recognized that the passage of time and the evolution of his ankle have allowed him to see that situation from a very different perspective. «It is not in my DNA [evitar forzar]. That is not my personality, “said the player. «But I understand that the objective is to play until June and we will do whatever is necessary to get there [cuando se juegan las Finales]».
In this work of reflection and introspection, Mitchell faced, initially, three weeks of absolute rest that helped him to spur his passion for basketball after the disappointment suffered. He then resumed his rehabilitation process to later train alongside his teammates Royce O’Neale and Eric Paschall, and his private trainers, Chris Brickley and David Alexander.
Mitchell noted that his goals for this season go beyond being healthy. Thus, he has committed himself to being a better player on both sides of the court. “I think there is another level that I can get to,” said the All-Star. I’ve said it every year because I think it’s true. It happens to be more efficient. When you think about efficiency, you usually think about the percentage of shots from the field, but for me it is about the turnovers and the defense. I can do it on the offensive side, but I also want to be great on defense. “
For his part, Brickley shared that they both worked more specifically on shooting from all areas of the court. “He has figured out how to score easily. You have discovered your niche. So what we have done is work on his strengths but we also want to improve his three-point shot from the dribble and from the reception. You already have some basic moves but we want to add more: scoring around the rim, with floaters and penetrations. It is an important part of his game and we also want him to perfect it. “
Those who have already started working alongside Mitchell have been impressed with his evolution. “I really had a lot of things in the offseason that I wanted to work on,” said Mike Conley. «All the offseason he has been training. He has been focused, locked up. And I know he’s excited to get back to work and show the world what he can do. “
(Cover photo by Alex Goodlett / Getty Images)