Jazz's Donovan Mitchell Discusses Mentor Relationship with Dwyane Wade

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 2, 2021

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 02:  Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat greets Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz after the game at American Airlines Arena on December 2, 2018 in Miami, Florida. 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 Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Dwyane Wade retired in 2019, but he might have some influence on how the 2021 NBA playoffs unfold.

The future Hall of Famer purchased a minority ownership stake in the Utah Jazz in April. Jackie MacMullan of ESPN wrote how he has also forged a relationship with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell told MacMullan he has reached out to Wade for advice, dating back to when Wade invited him to work out after his rookie season in 2017-18 along with a few other younger players around the league.

"On the final day of camp, Mitchell and Wade embraced, and the future Hall of Famer told him, 'Hit me whenever,'" Mitchell said.

"Usually when someone says that you might do it once. But my feeling was, if D-Wade is saying this to me, I'm taking advantage. I call him all the time.

"We had one conversation that was two or three hours long. I hit him with a thousand questions. The one thing I really appreciate about D-Wade was he was as engaged as I was during that conversation. Now that I'm four years in, I understand your most valuable thing is your time—and he gave me the time of day."

MacMullan reported Wade also "played a role in mitigating the tension" when Mitchell became upset about his absence in Utah's Game 1 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies. 

According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps, Mitchell thought he was ready to go after having been out because of a sprained right ankle. Instead he was a late scratch from the lineup.

Per MacMullan, Wade "counseled him to prepare for the long haul and not overreact to a single game."

Wade's guidance seems to have worked for Mitchell, who had a career year in 2020-21. The two-time All-Star averaged 26.4 points and 5.2 assists and shot 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. That followed a 2020 postseason in which he had two 50-plus-point outings.

Mitchell's efficiency is down in the first round (39.1 percent overall and 33.3 percent on three-pointers), but he has still averaged 28.0 points per game through three appearances.

More importantly, the Jazz are one win away from closing out the series, something they can do Wednesday in Salt Lake City.

To some extent, the outcome of this year's playoffs will be a referendum on Mitchell and center Rudy Gobert. Utah owned the best record in the league (52-20), but questions remain about whether the team is built to thrive at this stage.

Having a legend such as Wade, who won three titles with the Miami Heat, can be an invaluable resource for Mitchell to understand how best to handle that outside skepticism and respond on the court.