The Cleveland Cavaliers made the biggest upgrade this NBA offseason by trading for three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. Not enough people seem to be talking about it.
Even though Mitchell has averaged over 20 points per game every season of his career, he hasn’t yet established his winning legacy. The Utah Jazz made the playoffs in all five years of his tenure but never made a Conference Finals appearance. That isn’t a definitive knock on Mitchell, who quickly became their best player and the main reason why they were even in that position.
Donovan Mitchell is still approaching his prime as one of the elite young guards in the NBA.
That’s why Mitchell’s move to the Cavaliers should be more highlighted. Cleveland has legitimate young stars in Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. Pairing up Mitchell with Garland instantly makes for one of the most dynamic backcourts in the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland finished 44-38 last season under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. That was the same record as the Brooklyn Nets starring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The two teams met in the play-in game to advance into the playoffs. Darius Garland scored 34 points but was overpowered by Durant and Irving’s combined 59 points.
The Cavs put up another quality effort in their next game against Atlanta, with another chance to make it into the playoffs for the first time since 2018. They lost 107-101 behind Trae Young’s 38 points.
Cleveland hasn’t been to the playoffs without LeBron James on the roster since 1998.
While the young Cavs experienced unexpected progress last season, Donovan Mitchell nearly guarantees them access to the postseason. Having a more established star while Garland and Mobley continue to evolve is only going to benefit all parties involved.