Donovan Mitchell is in the middle of a discussion. Sitting in the Utah Jazz practice facility, the All-Star Guard discusses his movie-reading habits when asked a question.
Hi, who really watches the most movies in the NBA?
Does anyone watch more movies than you?
“Razon Rondo,” Mitchell says immediately. “You hear stories, but I saw it first hand in the bubble. In all the playoffs, wherever he was, he had his iPad. And I mean everywhere. Every time I saw him in the elevator, he had his iPad with him. It’s a different level. “
That’s when Jazz Keyon Dooling assistant coach passes. “Hi, Keyon,” Mitchell asks. “Who is the person who has watched the most movies in your career?”
“Rondo,” Dowling said. “It wasn’t even close.”
The same question is asked by jazz guard Mike Conley.
“Probably Tony Allen,” he says, referring to the six-time All-Defensive team member by apt nickname: “The Grindfather.” “We lived in the same neighborhood and you could see him walking with his laptop, just walking. “He was just watching a movie and listening to music.”
Rondo and Allen used movie watching to transform from late-night first-round choices into top role-players, gaining careers that spanned a decade and a half.
Mitchell, however, has his eyes on higher attractions.
“Why is LeBron James so great? Because he knows the game before he even gets to a point. He is 18 years old. I have five. “
“Same with Steph, same with Dame and James Harden, Kevin Durant,” says Mitchell. “As the leader of this team, I am in my fifth year. I need to find ways to get over it and think more because, at the end of the day, it will come to me. “If I’m not ready for that, up here,” Mitchell points to his head. “I’m not going to be successful on the pitch.”
“I finally want to get there, to be able to do that,” says Mitchell. “Ultimately, if you want to win the best you have, you have to train, think and surpass the best.”
To do this, Mitchell turns his attention to the tape.
Donovan’s routine for watching movies
First, he revisits every game, especially his belongings. In this way, he pays special attention to his readings: both the times when he makes the right game and the times when he forces the wrong game and turns it upside down.
“Why did I overturn it? Why did I have five today? Why did I have zero last night? Why did I have one against Atlanta? Why did I have four against Orlando – why did Orlando speed me up? Why was I successful in Miami? ” Mitchell lists. “These are the questions I ask myself on a daily basis.”
Mitchell varies never watches each game, however, depending on his emotional state after the game. Sometimes, he says, he is too tired or not in an emotional place to gain anything from the movie-watching experience. In these cases, he will watch a movie on the plane for the next city, take a nap and get up to watch the race in the morning.
Other times, he wants to use his connection to the game he just played – especially when he’s playing badly.
“Sometimes it’s good to see it directly from the jump,” Mitchell said. “Especially when you say, ‘What the hell happened?'”
However, one game day, Mitchell moves on to the next challenge. In those days, he only watched the other team’s games: their games, how they played in defense and filmed about who his expected match would be in that game. Of course, he has a pre-game routine with a 30-minute video editing created by the team’s coaches about what he needs to know about the upcoming match – but often, he will watch a lot more movies early in the day.
“He will come in the next day and ask the people, ‘Did you see this game, or this game, or did you see what they did in this timeout?’ “I think they will start this guy from me and this guy from you,” Conley said. “He has already put scripts in his mind.”
An evolution in movie watching
Mitchell knows what kind of games are likely to lead him to rollers with the best moments. High flying dunk. Three more than many defenders. Difficult scoop ends in motion. He became one of the NBA’s brightest stars – winning his own shoe deal, All-Star appearances and entry into the NBA social elite – because of the moments he jumps higher, moves faster, finishes stronger.
However, these are not the projects that Mitchell finds most satisfactory. Mitchell wants, above all, games on the court where he is simply smarter. “The point is to be able to put myself in situations where I don’t have to – don’t get me wrong – where I don’t have to work so hard,” he says.
As a young teenager playing AAU basketball with Jazz teammate Eric Paschall, Mitchell did not watch a movie. His team did not rank high enough for his games to be videotaped reliably. But he did the next best thing: he watched even more NBA games than his friends who were also obsessed with basketball. Even in Louisville, he always made sure to have televisions in training tuned to NBATV.
But in the summer between the Jazz draft and the training camp, he went into hyperdrive. Mitchell said he watched almost every game played by Jazz George Hill / Gordon Hayward / Rudy Gobert 2016-17 – trying to understand how Quinn Snyder ran his team on both ends of the ball. In particular, he watched the Jazz series against the Clippers “about a thousand times”, in which Chris Paul’s play really stood out in the Jazz series’ victory.
“How can I get to a point where I think about the game so much, at this rate? Where he is not in time out when I understand, but he is on the move? ” said Mitchell.
Mitchell says he made a leap when he realized that his success was directly linked to the position of his teammates on the floor. Gives an example:
“If I know every time I am on the right side of the floor that I will be trapped, I will put the ball on the left side. “If I know from the left that they will try to trap me, I will have to put Boyan here,” he points to the other side of the floor. “OK complete. Now, I will go from that side, I will attack and I will find Boyan.”
In other words, Mitchell not just dictates his own game, but moves his teammates to put them in situations where the team can succeed. For most of the game, this means that you have these discussions with coach Quinn Snyder, so that it leads to a changed game. But if the Jazz are playing in transition, or late in the game, you will often see Mitchell direct the movement on the field.
“I like watching movies, but now I have to understand it at a higher level,” Mitchell said. “It’s about being able to handle the game before the game, even.”
Mitchell’s learned habits mean that his teammates are not interested in moving around the pitch as needed – they know he sees something that could work.
“It’s impressive, for someone who is so young, who is still evolving as a player in this league,” says Conley.
Mitchell is still a young conductor, but he is studying to become great.
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