Donovan Mitchell | 2022-23 Cavaliers Player Year in Review

May 5, 2023

Andy Billman

3 Key Factors Donovan Mitchell in 2022-23

1 – New face of the Cavs

When the trade happened with the Jazz, the new leader of the Cleveland Cavaliers was crowned, and he did a wonderful job last year.  Donovan Mitchell is the undoubted leader of the Cavs and lifted the team to 51 victories, which is an amazing accomplishment in year one.  

2 – Mitchell’s 71-point game against the Bulls 

It is rare in the NBA to have a memorable regular season victory, but Mitchell certainly does with his 71-point outburst against the Chicago Bulls on January 2nd.  He made headlines around the globe with his performance. It should not be taken lightly as a Cavs fan, as he single-handedly won the game for the Cavs.  The missed free throw, with Mitchell grabbing the rebound, turning into a made basketball, still gives goosebumps.

3 – Playoff wounds 

Mitchell is going to be up at night thinking about what happened with the Knicks and Jalen Brunson.  He lost the battle with Brunson, and he did not lift the Cavs as he did in the regular season, with the Knicks eliminating Cleveland in 5.  It is a cold towel ending on what was a magical regular season for Mitchell. 

Cavaliers Become Relevant Again

The Mitchell trade, which was reported on September 1st by Adrian Wojnarowski, brought a huge amount of energy to the Cleveland sports fan.  To a fanbase that usually is focused on the Browns kicking off the season and the Guardians final stretch, the Mitchell trade grabbed all of the headlines.  He brought back importance to the Cavs, not just locally but nationally, for the first time since LeBron left for LA.

Impact to Team

Mitchell did not disappoint on the court. He led the team in points per game (28.3 PPG) and had a career year in some aspects of his game.  Mitchell was a lethal scorer, making him very hard to defend, he can drive, pull up from the elbow or hit a deep three.  Mitchell had his best shooting ever as a pro, credit to the development of his consistent mid-range jumper, and he shot a career-high percentage from three as well.  And when he was not shooting, he would glide to the hoop with ease or sometimes power through the lane with a slam over the defender.  Statistically, Mitchell was also an above-average defender making him the complete combo guard. 

In particular, he will always be remembered for his 71-point outburst against the hated Bulls in early January.  That was a once-in-a-lifetime performance, as he single-handedly won the game for the Cavs. 

Amid the season, it is easy to forget, but how well Mitchell adapted to this team should be mentioned.  Never any stories about jealousy or frustration at all during the season, which is almost a given in today’s sports world, and was well-liked by his teammates, especially Darius Garland. The relationship with Garland is so key, as they needed to blend well for the Cavs to be successful on the court. 

From the first tip in Toronto, Mitchell became the face and leader of the Cavaliers.  He fit in wonderfully with the City of Cleveland fans, and Mitchell showed love back to the city with a smashing of a guitar at a Browns game and can be seen on Opening Day watching the Guardians. 

He was an all-star, he was the face of the organization, and he led the Cavs to 51 wins and a fourth seed in the NBA Playoffs, a very successful regular season for Mitchell. 

Back in the NBA Playoffs

The playoffs, sadly, did not go as well for Mitchell as he lost the battle with Jalen Brunson, which was a part of the reason for the demise of the Cavs in the playoffs.  When you look at the stats, he did ok, but the Cavs needed him to do more than average, which was the problem.  Mitchell played well, but in a year when he was Superman throughout the season, Cleveland needed him to put on his cape. 

Because of this, Mitchell got a lot of anger from the Cleveland fan base.  Yes, Mitchell got outplayed by Brunson, and yes, Mitchell played really poorly in game 4 and did not do enough in games 3 and 5.  Also, Mitchell needs to do more and, in certain moments, needs to lead while putting the Cavs on his shoulders to a victory.  He also can’t disappear in games like he did this postseason.

With that said, he was not the only or main reason the Cavaliers were eliminated. We should keep that in mind.  Other factors of rebounding, lack of a third scorer, and a lack of a true wing played a big part in Cleveland being eliminated.

Looking Forward to the 2023 – 2024 Season

The Cavs should be applauded for making the trade for Mitchell. He raised the level of the team and became a hero in Cleveland throughout the season.  The postseason ended terribly, and Mitchell needs to improve, but he is the right player for the Cavs, and in season one, he lifted the Cavaliers to heights not seen since LeBron. 

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