Jazz star Donovan Mitchell admits he was afraid of Russell Westbrook during his rookie season
It is no secret that the playing style of Utah Jazz dynamic guard Donovan Mitchell has often been compared to that of Houston Rockets high-flyer Russell Westbrook.
The two, after all, use their athleticism to the fullest and carry the same score-first mentality.
In a video interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, however, Mitchell admitted that he was extremely intimidated when he went up against Westbrook (who was still with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the time) for the first time in the 2017-18 season.
“Westbrook was one of my favorite players,” the 23-year-old Jazz guard shared.
“He does that thing where he sits on the bench pregame, so physically seeing him I had to get that ‘Oh, thats Russell Westbrook out of my head’. So Steven Adams is standing in from of him and I peek around him and Steven moves, and Russell is giving me the death stare right in my first game.”
Doors to Boys and Girls Clubs of America may be closed for now, but @BGCA_Clubs are still reaching out to kids in our communities. Proud to work w/ @ESPNCitizenship for a series of regional Q-and-A sessions. My visit w/ Donovan Mitchell (@SpidaMitchell):https://t.co/po1cDpW1vv
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 29, 2020
Apart from being a triple-double machine, Russell Westbrook is perhaps best known for approaching each game with a feral intensity — which we rarely see anymore in today’s NBA.
Donovan Mitchell, on the other hand, carries a laid back, almost stoic personality on the court, although he also possess the same killer mentality as Westbrook.
The Jazz All-Star would eventually get the last laugh over Westbrook during that season when the Jazz and the Thunder met in the first round of the playoffs. Utah eliminated OKC in six games, as Mitchell torched Westbrook and his team for 28.5 points a game on 46.2 percent shooting throughout the series.
Westbrook and Mitchell continue to share a healthy rivalry this season, even as the former jumped ship to Houston over the summer. The Jazz (41-23) ranked third in the West prior to the suspension of the season, while the Rockets were not far behind in sixth place (40-24).
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