Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell will play in the 2019 MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars Challenge, an All-Star Weekend showcase of the NBA’s best rookies and sophomores. Mitchell’s selection was announced Tuesday night on TNT’s Player’s Only Pregame Show.
After finishing last year in second place in the Rookie of the Year voting, Mitchell’s sophomore season started slower than he would have wanted.
“I’ll be honest with you, it took me some time to figure it out this year, mentally,” Mitchell said at one point this season. “I had struggles last year, but none like this year, and it’s really tested me mentally.”
But the 22-year-old Mitchell has busted out of his relative sophomore slump, averaging 28.1 points per game in January and earning a Western Conference Player of the Week award along the way. The young guard has helped lead the Jazz to a 29-22 record (currently 7th in the Western Conference) during his second season in the league.
“I’m just being aggressive and continuing to have the same mindset I’ve had since pretty much, I feel like, Toronto,” Mitchell said recently, referencing the Jazz’s first game of the new year. “Sometimes those shots I take won’t go in but I’m going to continue to take the same shots.”
Mitchell has posted nine 30-plus point games and 31 20-point games in 2018-19, which is the most among all sophomores and rookies. He leads all NBA sophomores in scoring this season.
SOPHOMORE SCORING LEADERS (total points)
- Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz — 1,057
- Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers — 896
- De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings — 863
- Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers — 814
- Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics — 810
Here’s how Mitchell’s other numbers stack up against the rest of the NBA’s sophomores:
1st in scoring — 22.5 points per game (17th among all NBA players)
1st in usage — 30.1 percent (17th overall)
2nd in minutes — 33.2 per game (33rd overall)
2nd in steals — 1.6 per game (17th overall)
5th in assists — 4 per game (48th overall)
Mitchell participated in last year’s Rising Stars Challenge, scoring seven points and handing out seven assists as a rookie. He was the 14th Jazz player to play in a Rising Stars or rookie challenge, joining Bryon Russell (1994), Andrei Kirilenko (2002, 2003), Deron Williams (2006, 2007), Paul Millsap (2007, 2008), Ronnie Brewer (2008), Derrick Favors (2012), Gordon Hayward (2012), Trey Burke (2014, 2015), Rodney Hood (2015), Rudy Gobert (2015), Danté Exum (2015, 2017), Raul Neto (2016) and Trey Lyles (2016, 2017).
The Rising Stars will play Feb. 15 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., and will broadcast on TNT. The game will pit 10 rookies and sophomores from the United States against 10 first- and second-year players from around the world.