Michael Jordan. LeBron James. Kobe Bryant. Allen Iverson. Kevin Durant. Jerry West. Dwyane Wade.
And now Donovan Mitchell.
With his latest performance Thursday night for the Utah Jazz, a 37-point outing as the Jazz beat the LA Clippers 117-111 to go up 2-0 in their second-round playoff series, Mitchell is part of some of the most elite company in NBA history.
In scoring 27 points in the first half Thursday, Mitchell moved into a tie for fourth all-time with Iverson with eight halves of at least 25 points points in a playoff game. It was the second time he’d done it this series after he scored 32 in the second half of Game 1, and now the only players ahead of him in the statistic are James (20), Bryant (17) and Durant (10).
With 27 first half points in Game 2, @spidadmitchell has scored 25+ points 8 times in a half in his career in the playoffs. That is tied with Allen Iverson for 4th most in NBA PLAYOFF HISTORY!!!!— Tyson Ewing (@tyewing2) June 11, 2021
The other 3:
1) LeBron James: 20
2) Kobe Bryant: 17
3) Kevin Durant: 10#TakeNote
Mitchell is sixth in league history in points per game during the playoffs among players who have played a minimum of 25 such contests (he’s played in 29) with an average of 28.4. The only players he’s trailing? Jordan, Iverson, Durant, West and James.
In context here, the other five all have far more than 29 playoff games to their names, but he’s ninth in history in total points through his first 29 playoff games.
Highest PPG in playoff history (min 25 games):— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 11, 2021
33.4 — Michael Jordan
29.7 — Allen Iverson
29.2 — Kevin Durant
29.1 — Jerry West
28.7 — LeBron James
28.4 — Donovan Mitchell pic.twitter.com/IwHfAzprYI
And then there’s a smattering of other notable markers for the 24-year-old:
- Tied for fourth in number of playoff games with 30 points and five assists before the age of 25 with Durant and behind James, Bryant and his mentor and new Jazz part owner, Wade.
- With his Game 1 performance, Mitchell became just the 11th player in league history to score at least 45 points in three playoff outings.
- On Thursday, Mitchell became the first Jazz player with 35 points in back-to-back playoff games since Karl Malone did it back in 1988.
All of it had national analysts on Thursday night noting how wonderful the fourth-year guard has been.
There are no words for what Donovan Mitchell is doing right now.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 11, 2021
Donovan Mitchell is the best player in these playoffs so far.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 11, 2021
If you were prepared to annoint Luka Doncic after what he did against the Clippers, what are you going to do with Donovan Mitchell?— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) June 11, 2021
Donovan Mitchell is THAT GUY, PAL— Chris Vernon (@ChrisVernonShow) June 11, 2021
That’s certainly a complicated question, as longevity matters in that debate and different data could be used to arrive at different conclusions. Malone, for example, finished his career with a playoff average of 24.7 points per game but that was over 193 contests. Deron Williams, perhaps a more comparable player as a guard, averaged 21.3 points in four playoff appearances with Utah but also 9.9 assists.
Whatever the answer to the last question is, it’s clear that Mitchell has been tremendous thus far in his playoff career and is on a trajectory toward greatness.