Houston • Maybe it won’t thrill Jazz fans to hear that Donovan Mitchell is attempting to develop “Mamba mentality.”
But at the same time, if the Utah rookie guard can learn on-court lessons from Kobe Bryant, is it a bad thing?
The retired Lakers star (fresh off an Oscar win) is doing even more work in the film room lately, which has taken the shape of “Details,” a basketball film analysis show on ESPN Plus, a subscription streaming service. In the 23-minute video, Bryant breaks down Mitchell’s game from a first-person perspective. The common critiques that arise are that Mitchell needs to catch the ball closer to the rim, he has to be more physical with the defense of Trevor Ariza, and he has to be looking to make higher passes to his big men.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mitchell said he had already seen it. Twice.
“I wasn’t a Kobe fan growing up — I didn’t understand his time and his presence and how hard he worked on his game, but my first year in the league, he’s become one of my favorite players to watch,” Mitchell said. “Kobe is one of those guys, it didn’t matter what happened. You go out there and do it.”
Mitchell said he’s watched film himself of Bryant, particularly in the 2008 series against (trigger warning) the Jazz. He’s come to appreciate his aggressiveness and desire to take over games, and he wants to replicate that ability.
Quin Snyder, as of Wednesday morning, said he hadn’t watched the show, but given his time as a Lakers assistant, he had great respect for Bryant’s eye for the game. The video may not have the full context of what the Jazz were attempting in each possession, but Snyder doesn’t mind the attention.
“Players teach you, and I learned a ton from Kobe,” he said. “We learn from how other teams play each other. We learn from how other teams play us. The fact that Kobe is breaking the game down, that’s a good thing. It’s a compliment to Donovan. And there’s probably a lot of things he’s suggesting that we need to look at doing, probably some of which we already are.”
1. In his day, Jerry Sloan was a fiery presence on the sideline, and a generation of Jazz fans will always remember him as the battle-hardened leader who brought Utah to back-to-back NBA Finals. Today, as he struggles with a debilitating disease, Sloan draws his strength from going back to the arena as a fan. While his illness has taken its toll, he can still have a good day when he watches the Jazz. Aaron Falk at his best. [Trib]
2. That Game 6, huh? Kurt Kragthorpe reflected on an electric night in Salt Lake City, and how the memories will linger long past this season. [Trib]
3. Dennis Lindsey came face-to-face with desperation growing up south of Houston, where his parents helped run a home for troubled and needy youth. That experience has helped shape his approach to people in his NBA career, but also his desire to help communities in Utah and his native Texas. [Trib]
4. Another good story on Donovan Mitchell’s ability to adapt: This one breaks down his performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder and how he can learn within games to make positive adjustments. Great job by Mike Prada. [SB Nation]
5. Going to make a slight tweak to the formula and hit you with a story about the other team in this second-round series. Lee Jenkins breaks down the history of Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni and how he came to a confidence-first philosophy that has turned Houston into the best team in the NBA this season. [SI]
The gang got together ahead of Game 6 to talk about different factors in the Thunder-Jazz series, which Utah obviously went on to win. Travel and scheduling have restricted some of our ability to record podcasts this past week, but we will be back before Game 3 of Jazz-Rockets this week. You can listen to previous podcasts on iTunes or SoundCloud.
IN THE ROTATION
• Special attention Jazz fans: Please stop checking your phones during performances of “Hamilton” at the Eccles Theater (which I haven’t seen myself, but I’ll accept spare tickets). [Trib]
• I wrote about the way Houston can scramble assignments every which way and the problems that creates for when the Jazz are trying to defend. [Trib]
• Tony caught up with everyone’s favorite former Jazzman Joe Johnson, who is dealing with less playing time but hoping his bet that Houston can win a title will pay off. [Trib]
• Gordon Monson says the Jazz, especially franchise cornerstones Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, can learn a lot from playing the Rockets even if they don’t win the series. [Trib]
• Jay Drew was front-and-center when Russell Westbrook talked about “disrespectful, vulgar” Utah fans. [Trib]
• There’s a friendly wager between police chiefs in Salt Lake City and Houston over the outcome of the Western Conference semifinals. [Trib]
• Bryon Russell thinks its time for his jersey to go up in the rafters. Eric Woodyard caught up with him. [DesNews]
• KSL caught up with the man who had his hand swatted by Russell Westbrook: He told his side of the story. [KSL]
• Royce Young had a piece on how Donovan Mitchell outperformed the Thunder’s talented superstars in the first round of the playoffs. [ESPN]
• Zach Lowe had great insight into some of the X’s and O’s going into the series that will define if the Jazz can come out on top. [ESPN]
• The Sports Illustrated crew ponder a question from the first round on their podcast: Can you build a team around Russell Westbrook? [SI]
• Fred Katz had a thoughtful take on how the Thunder have a big problem with Carmelo Anthony in the wake of their playoff exit. [Norman Transcript]
• Hopefully you caught this quote about Donovan Mitchell enjoying Celtics fans trolling Ben Simmons. [FTW]
EYE ON SOCIAL
After Game 6 on Friday night, who could sleep? Apparently none of the Jazz starting backcourt. After Ricky Rubio tweeted about how he couldn’t go to bed, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles both chimed in:
I’ve tried 3 times to fall asleep 😂😂😂 now I’m watching the office 😂😂😂😂 see you in a few hours— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) April 28, 2018
👋🏻👋🏻👋🏻— Joe Ingles (@Joeingles7) April 28, 2018
The Trey Lyles gripe about “three-hour practices” isn’t going to die anytime soon. Derrick Favors was the latest to throw shade on the former Jazz forward on Wednesday morning at shootaround. But within that quip was a larger point about what coach Quin Snyder is like with a few extra days to prepare:
“We have three-hour practices. Isn’t that what happens? But he’s very detailed and everything. He goes through all the coverages and all the plays, and all what we’re gonna do defensively, what we’re gonna do offensively. I think our scouting reports and watching film is longer than our practices. We’ll be here for a minute just watching film.”
Game 2 is coming up at 6 p.m. MDT in Houston tonight. After that, it’s Game 3 on Friday at 8:30 in Salt Lake City, then Game 4 on Sunday(!) at 6 p.m.