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Win or lose, Donovan Mitchell has successfully put Utah back on the map

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If you look close enough at what the Utah Jazz have been able to do this season led by their sensational rookie Donovan Mitchell, it doesn’t take long to label what they accomplished a success. Just the fact that they reached the post-season would’ve been remarkable enough, especially given the departue of Gordon Hayward in the off-season, but they didn’t just stop there.

After starting 19-28, the Utah Jazz crawled back into an opportunity to grab the third overall seed in the Western Conference. They would’ve been just behind the juggernauts in Golden State and Houston, but fell a game short after losing to Portland in the final game of the regular season with seeding in the balance.

It seems as though that loss to the Trail Blazers worked out in their favor, though. Portland found themselves with an overwhelming match up in the first round as the New Orleans Pelicans advanced beyond them in a dominating sweep. Utah, on the other hand, got locked into a clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Should the Jazz overcome the Thunder, led by a trio of All-Stars headlined by Russell Westbrook, they would prove themselves to be legitimate.

And sure enough, they came through when it mattered most in the first round, advancing in six games over what should’ve been a stacked Oklahoma City squad.

Looking beyond just a first round victory and breaking up yet another group of All-Stars looking for a ring together, what this franchise got by trading for Donovan Mitchell on the night of the 2017 NBA Draft has turned out to do some irreverisble good.

Mitchell has put together the best rookie season that the Jazz have ever seen. Playing against future Hall-of-Fame players didn’t slow him down any, and being in a highly contested rookie of the year race hasn’t stop him either. Falling down 3-1 to the Houston Rockets on Sunday, however, the team now has to win out in three consecutive contests to keep their season alive and advance.

And even though they are facing elimination, it’s safe to say that Donovan Mitchell has permanently put Utah back on on the NBA map as a team to watch for in the Western Conference for years to come. If this is how far they can make it given their circumstances from start to finish, imagine what they can do with some quality free agent additions and a full year on the same page.

Mitchell is only going to get better, and the league certainly hasn’t seen anything yet.

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About Keith Rivas

Keith is based In Salt Lake City and covers the Jazz for TLSM. Follow him on Twitter @mrkeithrivas for all things Utah Jazz.

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