February 2, 2023

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DONOVAN MITCHELL TRADE ANALYSIS – THE CAVS

8 min read

Can Donovan Mitchell be traded to Cleveland to improve the Cavaliers’ competitiveness in the East? Regardless of the outcome, the deal does resolve many internal issues for both parties and is a win-win short term.

Since Rudy Gobert went to the Timberwolves, whether or not Mitchell will stay has become the most concerned issue for Jazz fans, after all, this affects the team’s rebuilding plan in the next few years. Surprisingly, Mitchell’s final destination was not his hometown of New York, but the rising Cleveland and the combination with Jalen Brunson were temporarily hopeless.

Donovan Mitchell transaction details

Transaction details
Cavaliers get: Donovan Mitchell
Jazz get: Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton (sign-and-trade), Lauri Markkanen, unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027, 2029), first-round exchange rights (2026, 2028)

The Cavaliers have yet to make the playoffs after LeBron James left in 2018. However, last year they gave birth to two young “All-Stars” Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland, plus Evan Mobley, who almost won the “Rookie King”, the future of Cleveland Wonderful to expect.

The three players are all under the age of 25, and the new addition Donovan Mitchell is just about to have his 26th birthday and has been selected three times as an All-Stars. From the perspective of age and strength, it can be regarded as an excellent reinforcement in the existing market.

The Utah Jazz sent away “Double Stars” Mitchell and Gobert, and the starlight was obviously dimmed. But now they have 7 “unprotected” first-round picks, 3 draft picks swaps and two young potentials Ochai Agbaji and Walker Kessler, people have to admire Danny Ainge’s shrewdness The manipulative skill is really not old school.

Donovan Mitchell along with other all star potential young core is going to bring the Cleveland Cavaliers to another level for the next 3 years at least.
The Cleveland Cavaliers 2022-23 starting five is about to take shape (Image: NBA on ESPN)

ESPN Kevin Pelton on Donovan Mitchell trade

For the Cavaliers’ approach, ESPN columnist Kevin Pelton made an interesting analogy.

He believes that this transaction is more like the NFL team building model. Due to the rapid success of Evan Mobley, the “third overall selection” in the 2021 NBA draft, the current Cavaliers seem to have a “star quarterback leading a rookie contract” as in Mobley. Accumulate talents before becoming more “expensive”, and unleash the powerful spending power brought by “rookie bonus”.

In fact, before entering this summer, the Cavaliers did have the “cleanest” salary cap space in the league. It can be said that there is no pressure to renew Garland, and they can even “continue” to clear salary cap space next year, which is very scary. In addition, Mobley’s rookie contract expires in the 2024-25 season, and Jarrett Allen “only” receives 20M per year. It is not difficult to take on Mitchell’s contract.

It only makes sense to save money and use it, and the same goes for salary cap space. The current Cavaliers bought happiness with “cap space”, and their operations should be normalized next summer, but they still have a chance to keep the current lineup, such as continuing with Caris LeVert, Kevin Love, and use the midlevel exception to see what is good out on the market as long as there is no wave of injuries, the prospects are very optimistic.

Mitchell fit in with the Cavs

The addition of Mitchell will not affect the team’s timeline. The original “young stars”, Garland, Mobley, and Allen, can still grow steadily, and there is not too much conflict in their positions. It is a feasible choice in theory.

Along with the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the Cavaliers are another team with three “simultaneous” 2022 All-Stars. Coupled with Mobley and Isaac Okoro who are ready to go.

Before Collin Sexton was injured, the Cavaliers briefly experienced the crazy experiment of “three towers and two guards”, and then ushered in Garland’s explosion. Mitchell has a lot of experience playing “double guard” in the Jazz. He has cooperated with Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson for many years, and old teammates Ricky Rubio and Raul Neto also came to the Cavaliers. The running-in period should be shortened a lot.

It’s worth noting that despite Garland’s reputation for high efficiency and high assist numbers, the Cavaliers didn’t play much pick-and-roll last season, only holding the ball every 100 possessions, according to Second Spectrum. The players provided 65.5 screens, 21st in the NBA.

Given the destructive power of Garland and Mitchell, we can expect the Cavaliers’ offense to change a lot. Mobley and Kevin Love’s offense from the high post will become rarer and rarer next season — especially on the bench. There is also a “playmaker” Ricky Rubio, who doesn’t have to worry about no one in possession of the ball.

Mitchell and Garland pairing

Garland and Mitchell are also quite good in terms of outside shooting, but in terms of last season alone, the pull-up jumper of the two seems to be more stable, and the catch-and-shoot three-point shooting rate is about 35%, which is slightly lower than league average.

However, this is mostly related to their role as the main ball carrier. How to switch freely between “on the ball” and “off the ball” will be the key to whether the two sides can cooperate happily.

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff may devise ways to get through the break-in period, like staggering Garland and Mitchell’s minutes a little to ensure “at least” one dominant offense keeps the scoring fire going.

According to NBA Advanced Stats, while Darius Garland on the bench last season, the Cavaliers’ offense nearly collapsed, scoring 10.6 fewer points per 100 possessions, making Bickerstaff uneasy to rest Garland.

Even if Mitchell doesn’t have a catch-and-shoot feel to start the season, we’ll at least see him offloading Garland with the ball, and vice versa.

As for the defensive end, Garland and Mitchell’s backcourts are equally short, but the two are no strangers to such situations. The former has played with Sexton, and the latter has worked with Mike Conley for many years, so there will be no psychological impact.

Especially Garland, although his teammates are still 6′1, obviously Mitchell has a longer wingspan and better defense, which is an alternative “upgrade”.

After coming to the Cavaliers, with a younger Jarrett Allen, Isaac Okoro, Lamar Stevens, and Evan Mobley’s incredible defense awareness, as long as he is familiar with J.B. Bickerstaff’s unique defensive system, Mitchell will find his new happy land.

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