While the top picks in the 2017 NBA Draft garnered early headlines last June, the rookie class wound up proving to be much deeper than most anticipated. That held particularly true for the Los Angeles Lakers and their selections of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant.
Ball, taken with the No. 2 overall pick, was expected to make an immediate impact for the Lakers. But it was Kuzma who quickly shined and stole the spotlight from his rookie point guard. And by the end of the season, Hart showing flashes of his potential.
Outside of the Lakers, Donovan Mitchell is another first-year player who impressed. Selected 13th overall by the Utah Jazz, Mitchell outplayed several players who were drafted ahead of him.
With a recent report detailing a secret pre-draft workout Mitchell was part of for the Jazz, it prompted Hart to recall his experience — and inability — to defend him:
No one killed me during predraft workouts last year….but there wasn’t s*** I could do against him that day. After that workout I know he was a lottery pick https://t.co/2DveVaahL8
— Josh Hart (@joshhart) May 8, 2018
Hart previously complimented Mitchell by comparing his offensive prowess to that of James Harden and LeBron James.
Mitchell finished the regular season leading the Jazz in points (24.4 per game) and steals (1.5), while he was second on the team in assists (4.2) and third in rebounding (5.9).
During the NBA Playoffs, Mitchell became the fourth rookie to score at least 35 points in a series-clinching win. He joined Wilt Chamberlain (53 points), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (46 points) and Magic Johnson (42 points).
For all his success on the court, Mitchell is also renowned for his back-and-forth with Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons over whether or not Simmons should be considered a rookie.