SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - NOVEMBER 02: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz looks on during a game against the Sacramento Kings at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 02, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Mitchell And Gay Hit Career Milestones In Utah Victory

Donovan Mitchell became the fourth-fastest active player to reach 7,000 career points, while teammate Rudy Gay scored his 17,000 career point in Utah's 109-108 win over Cleveland on Sunday afternoon

Donovan Mitchell caught the ball off a Mike Conley pass at the right elbow, took one dribble, and calmly laid the ball off the glass and into the hoop.

In what may seem like an inconsequential bucket considering it came just a minute into Sunday's game against Cleveland, it was in actuality a massive score for Mitchell.

With those two points, Mitchell crossed the 7,000-point total in his career — in just his 300th career game.

He is the third-fastest to 7,000 career points in Utah history, behind Adrian Dantley and Pete Maravich. He's also the fourth-fastest active player to accomplish the goal, behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony.

Mitchell was initially viewed as an athletically elite '3-and-D' player after being drafted by the Jazz with the No. 13 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

Often talking about how his game has evolved over the past five years, Mitchell never viewed himself solely as a '3-and-D' type of player. While he acknowledges he made his mark his rookie season on the defensive end, his offensive evolution has been impressive and led to multiple all-star appearances.

Mitchell is averaging 23.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game throughout his career. He's averaging 33.6 minutes per game with 292 starts in his 300 career games.

But where many athletes might shrink when the lights get brighter, Mitchell gets better.

In 33 career playoff games, he's averaging 28.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.3 steals in 37 minutes per game. He's shooting 43.6% from the field, 39.4% from three-point territory, and 86.2% from the free throw line.

But on Sunday afternoon, Mitchell wasn't the only player to notch a career milestone.

The elder statesman of the team, Rudy Gay knocked down a three-pointer in the third quarter for 17,000 career points.

One of the most impressive and interesting careers in the league's history, Gay entered the NBA after being selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the No. 8 pick in the 2006 draft.

Since he came into the league, Gay had 12 consecutive seasons where he averaged 17+ points per game. He was perenially one of the top midrange shooters and slashers.

But disaster struck in 2017 when playing for the Sacramento Kings, he suffered a complete tear of his left Achilles tendon. At the time, it appeared to be a career-ending injury as Gay was 30 years old and someone who succeeded in the NBA due to his elite athleticism.

One of the most cerebral players to ever play, Gay never believed his career would be over. Rather, not only did he work on his recovery from the injury, he worked on changing the way he played. Instead of relying on his quickness and jumping abilities, Gay turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter and someone who uses his IQ to succeed.

His point per game numbers are down since the injury, primarily because he no longer plays 35+ minutes per game. But his shooting percentages from the field and beyond the arc all up significantly, and he's turned himself into a valuable bench piece for a Utah team looking like NBA title contenders.

In his 17th season, Gay is averaging 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 steals in 1018 games.

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