SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 9: Ricky Rubio #3 and Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz exchange handshakes after the game against the Orlando Magic on January 9, 2019 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Donovan Mitchell will take a clear-headed approach to his point guard duties: 'I’m just going to be myself'

by Aaron Falk

When Ricky Rubio went down with injury last season during the playoffs, Donovan Mitchell’s offensive burden got even heavier. A scorer by nature, Mitchell tried to channel a point guard’s mindset, organizing the Utah Jazz offense and setting up his teammates. He felt the weight of the position.

“It kind of messed with my head,” he said.

This time around, Mitchell is taking a different approach.

The Jazz’s leading scorer will have the ball in his hands even more, with point guard Raul Neto joining Rubio and Danté Exum on the injury report. A year older and wiser, Mitchell says he is better prepared for how to handle that responsibility.

“The Houston series really taught me a lot,” he said after shootaround on Friday morning. “I understand how to do both without thinking how to do both. I’m just going to be myself, clear my head and not really overthink what I’m doing.”

Mitchell is coming off a seven-assist performance in the Jazz’s comeback win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.

“I think it was probably his best game this year finding his teammates,” center Rudy Gobert said. “He was making the right decisions. When he does that, we’re very hard to defend.”

Mitchell credited the reads he made to an increased focus on film study over the past few weeks.

“I’ve always watched film, but now more so than ever,” he said. “It’s just kind of understanding the game, understanding where I’m getting my looks, understanding where I can get guys open, understanding how teams are playing me.”

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder appreciates the work Mitchell has put in. But as Mitchell assumes more point guard duties once again, Snyder wants his leading scorer to stay true to himself.

“In your thirst to improve, you can’t lose track of what makes you good,” Snyder said. “Donovan’s such a conscientious teammate. All of a sudden, if he’s trying to think too much about his teammates, that might not be the right way to think. He’s helping his teammates more when he’s attacking.”

Mitchell said that, in turn, will help him find his teammates.

“Just letting it come to me and not really overthinking it,” he said. “Not thinking I have to pass, pass, pass because that’s when you miss open shots. And vice versa. When you think shoot, shoot, shoot you miss open passes. I’m just letting it come to me.”