Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell received advice from former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant and Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden during a sophomore season that has ultimately been successful but did not start well.
Mitchell discussed this season with Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated's The Crossover:
"This year, it's different. I have to be locked in for every moment, they make it so tough on every possession. ut the words I've received from James [Harden], from Kobe [Bryant], Chris Paul, it's helped me understand that. I think in my rookie year, I was really taken aback. This year I came seeking advice."
The 22-year-old further explained some of the advice he received.
"Changing my pace and making an effort to get to the free-throw line, that's something James [Harden] is great at and [Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade] talked to me about as well," Mitchell said. "To hear that from them and then trying to follow their advice really helped me get back on track."
Mitchell, who dealt with rib and ankle injuries in November, shot just 40.6 percent from the field and 29.0 percent from the three-point line over his first 29 games. The 20-21 Jazz were also out of the playoff picture at the regular season's midpoint.
However, Mitchell has played like an All-Star since Jan. 9, averaging 27.5 points on 44.4 percent shooting in addition to 5.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game, according to Basketball-Reference. He's also nailed 38.5 percent of his three-pointers during that stretch.
Furthermore, the former Louisville star has taken the free-throw line advice to heart. Over his first 37 games, Mitchell shot 3.9 times per game from the charity stripe. That number has risen significantly to 6.5 attempts per contests since.
Mitchell's scorching-hot stretch has played a large part in Utah turning its season around. The Jazz have gone 23-9 in their last 32 games en route to a 41-29 record. A second straight playoff appearance is all but guaranteed with Utah seven games ahead of the ninth-place Sacramento Kings with 12 contests left.
Oddly enough, Mitchell may participate in a playoff series against one of the players who gave him sage advice in Harden. It's doubtful The Beard would be offering Mitchell much more advice should that occur, but the 22-year-old may not need any more given how he's played of late.