by Jerome Lagunzad
NBA fans will get an up-close look at Utah Jazz rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell, the NBA’s reigning Slam Dunk king, when he arrives in Manila this Sunday.
The 6-foot-3 Mitchell, 21, one of the top contenders for the NBA Rookie of the Year award, will make a pit stop in Manila as part of his Asian tour.
The 13th overall pick from last year’s rookie draft out of the University of Louisville, Mitchell emerged as a gem of a find as he filled up the shoes left by All-Star Gordon Hayward who got injured.
As Utah’s top offensive weapon who averaged 20.5 points – the highest among all rookies, Mitchell helped the Jazz turn what was initially projected as a rebuilding season into a remarkable campaign as they posted a solid 48-34 win-loss record in the eliminations, good for fifth overall in the stacked Western Conference.
Then Mitchell showed he’s been made for the bigger stage after he helped the Jazz overcome a homecourt advantage over reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook and the No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder, beating them in just six games.
However, the Jazz’s Cinderella run came to an end in the conference semifinals against the top-ranked Houston Rockets, led by top MVP candidate James Harden and superstar playmaker Chris Paul, who finished them off in just five games.