Sacramento, Calif. • The spotlight will be squarely on Donovan Mitchell as the Jazz start the season, but Mitchell doesn’t want to change how he approaches his job: “I have to treat it the same as I did last year: being humble, coming into it with a selfless mindset.”
But Mitchell is smart enough to know he will be treated differently; he’ll be at the top of opposition scouting reports.
“The game plan for the other team [changes] — the way they guard me in the pick and roll, the way they guard me off the ball,” Mitchell said before Wednesday’s season-opening tipoff against the Sacramento Kings. “I’m not going to be able to sneak around like I did last year.”
He also says he’s more “poised”, and more “relaxed” coming into the season this year, as opposed to last season where Mitchell’s youthful energy got him into occasional trouble. But he acknowledges that there’s an additional factor, too: playing the Kings on the road Wednesday is an easier test compared to what comes later in the week: a Friday home matchup on national TV against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Allen ready to start career against old teammate
Grayson Allen thinks he might feel some of those first-game jitters.
“I’m really excited for it to be my first official game now. I feel like I kind of got the nervousness of it out of the way, but we’ll see. When the game time comes I’ll probably be nervous, it’ll probably come back, but I’m just really excited to get this going,” Allen said.
With the arrival of the regular season comes an entirely different schedule, too. Preseason is played at an almost collegiate pace: with five games in 23 training camp days, it’s very different than the regular season. Now, though, the Jazz play their first five games in an 11-day stretch.
″Things are starting to go by a lot faster since we’re traveling and playing a lot more games now, but I know it’s going to be fun," Allen said. "I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.”
Allen, by the way, will see a familiar face in the opposition: rookie Marvin Bagley Jr., who also played for Duke last year. They talked after last Thursday’s preseason game against the Kings, though not since.
Raul Neto will miss at least the next week with what the team is calling a right hamstring injury. He’s scheduled to be re-evaluated next Wednesday. Thabo Sefolosha is suspended for the first five games after violating the terms of the NBA’s Anti-Drug Program last season.
For the Kings, former Jazz draftee Kosta Koufos is out with a hamstring strain of his own. Sharpshooting Bogdan Bogdanovic will also miss Wednesday’s game, he’s recovering from minor knee surgery.