Over the summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off a major coup when they traded three players and draft capital for three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.
All of a sudden, they had arguably the best backcourt in the NBA, not to mention a team that could contend for the world championship, if not now, then within a few years.
On the other hand, the Utah Jazz, Mitchell’s former team, was thought to be headed to the basement, but they have instead taken the elevator to the top floor of the Western Conference with a 10-3 record.
It’s rare to see trades in the NBA that definitely help both teams involved, but was the Mitchell trade one of those deals?
How The Trade Helped Cleveland
This is Captain Obvious territory, but Mitchell has made what was a good team last season into one that will be downright scary soon.
In the 2021-22 season, defense was the Cavs’ calling card, as they ranked seventh in defensive rating, but they were just 20th in offensive rating and 25th in points per game.
But so far this season, they’ve improved to third in offensive rating and seventh in points per game, as Mitchell is averaging 31.0 points a game and has given them one of the game’s most explosive players, not to mention a big-game performer.
Donovan Mitchell has been unbelievably good through 8 games:
In other words, he’s a bucket.#LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/sJyagaNVJd
— Mack Perry (@DevaronPerry) November 7, 2022
How The Trade Helped Utah
Cleveland sent guard Collin Sexton, forward Lauri Markkanen, and rookie wing Ochai Agbaji to the Jazz for Mitchell, and Sexton has given them a young, skilled guard to build around.
But the new star in Utah is Markkanen, who is looking like an All-Star by averaging 22.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game so far this season.
The Jazz may not finish with one of the league’s best records, but at least they won’t have to miss the playoffs (in all likelihood, at least) and put their fans through years of purgatory.
At least for now, the Mitchell trade looks like a relatively equal exchange, especially when one considers that the Jazz also received five first-round draft picks in the deal.
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