Donovan Mitchell Reveals The Player He Feared The Most His Rookie Season
Sometimes in sports, your mere presence may cause your opponent to hesitate for a moment and take notice of who you are. That’s what Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell revealed about his encounter with former Oklahoma City Thunder player, Russell Westbrook.
In an interview for the #oneteam Speaker Series with ESPN’s senior NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski, Mitchell revealed the one time he feared another opponent his rookie year.
“Westbrook was one of my favorite players. He does that thing where he sits on the bench pregame, so physically seeing him I had to get that ‘Oh, that’s Russell Westbrook out of my head’. So, Steven Adams is standing in from of him and I peek around him and Steven moves, and Russell is giving me the death stare right in my first game.
I was like oh what do I do? I emulated his moves non-stop and now he’s staring at you, trying to instill fear into you and it was like okay you’ve got to get over this,” said Mitchell in the interview via KSL sports.
The 13th overall pick by the Utah Jazz in the 2017 NBA Draft had one of his worst performances in his rookie season that game, scoring two points and shooting .143% from the field in a victory over the Thunder. Later that season, Utah eliminated OKC in the first round of the playoffs (4-2) behind Mitchell’s brilliant Game 6 performance where he finished the game with 38 points.