Donovan Mitchell is a “really a star”


With the Knicks and Jazz going back and forth on Donovan Mitchell, as commercial packages swarm over the assets it will take for Leon Rose and Co. to take down the All-Star guard from Elmsford, New York, what is somewhat lost is the player level being discussed.

A three-time all-star at the age of 25. The player has averaged 23.9 points, 5.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds, along with 36.1% shooting from a 3-point range, over his five-year football career. Magnetic character. The kind of talent that Nicks hasn’t employed since his Carmelo Anthony days, and someone who has just reached the pinnacle of his career now.

“Listen, I don’t know what the expiration date is to say he’s still young, but the guy is still young. I think he’s a star,” Thurl Bailey, a former jazz star and analyst on the team’s pre- and post-game shows, told The Post in a phone interview. Already.”

As a jazz employee, Bailey declined to talk about business talks or how Mitchell would handle playing back home in New York City. He was willing to smash the player he had known since entering the league five years ago.

Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell
Getty Images
Thurl Billy
Thurl Billy
Getty Images

Bailey earned a seat on the court during Mitchell’s impressive NBA career. The former Louisville star, as the 13th pick in the 2017 draft, has seen an unexpected immediate impact as a rookie and develop into one of the sport’s best young guards. He’s seen an honest and elegant star who doesn’t even change his bank account, often presenting his sneakers he wears in the game to young fans and chatting with people, from members of the media to fans, at the team hotel.

“He’s not a guy who walks straight into the elevator or straight into the training room,” Bailey said. “You can see who are giving souls, you can see who selfish men are, and you can see why men do things, and Donovan was not one of those people who do it for publicity. He does it because that’s how it is. He grew up in that capacity, he didn’t lose it.” That tells me a lot about a player of his caliber.”

For Billy, Mitchell is the complete package: an elite star who handles pressure well, is only 25 years old and already one of the sport’s greats in attack, and is a charismatic and open man who other superstars are drawn to.

Sure, there are some issues. Mitchell is 6 feet 1 tall, and his defense has been criticized at times. His post-season career record is 3-6, and he’s been part of some very strong teams in Utah, notably the 52-winner last year that blew a 2-0 lead to the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs.

It can be easy to forget him, because Mitchell has been basically a star since entering the league, and he’s now approaching what should be his best years in basketball. He didn’t turn 26 until September. There is still room for growth.

“One of the things that Donovan can improve and will improve in is his leadership on the field. It’s okay to have a guy on your team now and then,” Bailey said. “There is a way to do that. One of the items I’ve been waiting to see [out of him] Is this an alpha dog stand? I’d like to see more of that outwardly from Donovan, especially in the tough games, the tough parts of the season. I think he owns it.

“Those around him respect him that way. It doesn’t mean yelling all the time. It just means not taking any crap, and saying, “Come on guys, this is the moment.” I’ve seen a certain level of that, but I think at this point in the game, That should be a little higher.”

Perhaps the biggest question for Mitchell, if he actually finds his way into the Knicks house, is what level of star he will become. Could he be the first man on the championship team? Does it fit better in second place? Will his presence allow the Knicks to paint a big star down the road?

“I think he could be that guy in the right situation, with the right environment,” Bailey said. “Donovan is so hungry to get there and win it, and it’s not just up to him. He’s a big part of it, but in the league today you have to have a lot of different elements and ingredients.”



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