Donovan Mitchell to Participate in 2018 MTN Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Challenge

by Nick Bolerjack

The NBA announced today that Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has been selected to participate for Team USA at the 2018 MTN Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star 2018 in Los Angeles. The league’s annual showcase of premier young talent pits 10 first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against 10 first- and second-year NBA players from around the world. The game is set for 7 p.m. MT on Friday, Feb. 16 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live on TNT.

In 45 games (37 starts) in his first NBA season, Mitchell is averaging a team-best and rookie-leading 19.2 points, along with 3.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 31.7 minutes per game. Mitchell leads all rookies in points scored (863), 20-plus point games (21), is second in three-pointers made (101) and is the first rookie since Tyreke Evans (2009-10) to average over 19 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal per contest. With 34 points at Sacramento on Jan. 17, the Louisville product totaled his fifth 30-point outing of the season, becoming the first rookie since Blake Griffin in 2010-11 to total at least five 30-point contests in their first 42 NBA games. Additionally, Mitchell totaled a Jazz-rookie record 41 points on Dec. 1, marking the first 40-point outing by a first-year player since Griffin in January 2011.

He earned Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors for games played during December after averaging 23.1 points on 50.7 percent from the field, 3.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 34.3 minutes per game in the month. Mitchell totaled seven 25-plus point outings during December, becoming the first rookie to do so since David Robinson had eight in December 1989. The Greenwich, Conn., native is currently averaging the second-most points ever by a Jazz rookie (Darrell Griffith, 1980-81, 20.6 ppg).

The 21-year-old becomes the 14th Jazz player to participate in a Rising Stars or rookie challenge, joining Bryon Russell (1994), Andrei Kirilenko (2002, 2003), Deron Williams (2006, 2007), Paul Millsap (2007, 2008), Ronnie Brewer (2008), Derrick Favors (2012), Gordon Hayward (2012), Trey Burke (2014, 2015), Rodney Hood (2015), Rudy Gobert (2015), Danté Exum (2015, 2017), Raul Neto (2016) and Trey Lyles (2016, 2017).

Both MTN Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Challenge rosters, chosen by the NBA’s assistant coaches, had to include four guards, four frontcourt players and two players at any position. The coaches also picked a minimum of three first-year players and three second-year players for each team.