Where Mitchell’s game ranks in history


Is there a downside to discussion and praise? Donovan MitchellIts 71-point masterpiece from a fantasy perspective?

Heck, yes.

Star blizzard.

Mitchell had one OT in a 71-point game. so crazy What. No asterisks.

Judged by this writer’s preferred metric for single-game fantasy evaluation — Basketball Reference’s Game Score — Mitchell’s 60.80 now ranks third all-time. Kobe Bryant’s 63.50 (81-point game) ranks second.

Michael Jordan’s 69-point game on March 28, 1990 ranks first. Jordan’s game also had overtime. Again… so. crazy What. This is the best fantasy game ever played. No asterisks.

(Yes, fantasy basketball technically existed in 1990. I know because I made my own version of it for my science project that year. Coincidentally, I went to Homecoming. No asterisks.)

In sports – fantasy and reality – a win is a win is a win. In sports statistics, a result is a result is a result. Purity is what makes it beautiful. But occasionally, this writer indulges in the guilt that Fantasyland has actually applied a meta-asterisk.

I can walk from my house to the Rose Bowl in 10 minutes. I go through annoying Laker exceptionalism. But I’m even more annoyed by their attempt to slap a * on the 2020 title.

Because last time I checked, every franchise in 2020 finished that season in the same bubble-based situation. The Lakers outscored every other team. It’s a title. No asterisks.

In 1961, Roger Maris hit 61 home runs (in eight more games) to break Babe Ruth’s single-season record. No asterisks. In 1944, the St. Louis Cardinals (at the height of World War II, with many MLB players fighting overseas) won the World Series. No asterisks.

One of the joys of sports statistics is the ability to condense eras into similar perspectives.

Example: The 2022-23 season is peppered with NBA-Jam flashbacks in the form of single-game outbursts. 2022-23 isn’t even halfway over, and it’s already logged six game scores in the top 100 all-time.

But here’s the thing… since Dr. Naismith hung up his first peach basket, only seven players have broken the single-game 70-point barrier: Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, David Robinson, Elgin BaylorDavid Thompson, Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain.

The 70-point barrier is special. It compresses time. Just as in fantasy, the 60-point game score narrows down the time limit. Since 1984, only four players have broken that barrier: Jordan, Bryant, Mitchell and Karl Malone.

This is the Pantheon, the Penthouse, the Mona Lisa-Guernica-The Starry Night wing of fantasy performance. No asterisks. Just great results.

A game is a game is a game. Each has variables that give them character, differences… or connections to other games over time.

I sat in the 20th row for Bryant’s 81-point game. This 81 points snuck up on you. The first 40 were secret. You didn’t realize how special the game was until the middle of the third quarter.

Mitchell has a connecting dynamic in his 71-point game.

I watched it twice from start to finish. But what if you haven’t seen it yet, and only have an hour left? Starting at the 9:24 mark of the third quarter, you’re good.

This transition? It’s DeMar DeRozan’s night. DeRozan hit another jumper to put the Bulls up 69-51. DeRozan’s Bulls are cringing.

Mitchell is still mired in a multi-game shooting slump. He managed a respectable 17 points. But it hasn’t been pretty. At 9:05, Mitchell tries to answer with a 3 at the top of the key.

It rattles out. again Mitchell’s Cavaliers are sinking.

The moment that stopped DeRozan’s night? The moment Mitchell turned on? It’s fine. transitory It’s at the 9:00 mark. Jack Lavin beyond Jarrett Allen…the level at which Allen lands on his hindquarters. LaVine dropped to a no contest.

Mitchell channels his frustration into charging LaVine. He disrupts LaVine just enough to miss. But there’s something about the physicality of the moment that activates Mitchell.

Where that miss is game changing. It was there that Mitchell imposed his will, tilting the axle and roaring down.

Carys Levert At 8:26 p.m., Patrick Williams Miss… Then Mitchell grabs the rebound with that active edge. Mitchell fires an outlet pass to LeVert. Leaving the downhill. Levert goes back. Mitchell drives the lane, looks for contact, gets a little, and converts a finger roll for a layup.

It’s fine. But the edge is in sight. Yes, Mitchell only scored 19 points. Cavs down big. But Mitchell continues to off-tackle. Basically telling the defense exactly which direction the play is going. At 7:54: A hard contested floater in the paint. 7:34: A court-tilting circus layup. 7:01: A double-team knife to draw fouls on two free throws.

No asterisks. Those eight downhill points changed the game. Mitchell threw a switch. It has taken him to historic levels. (And most importantly…the Cavaliers won the ballgame.)

Two details about Monday stand out: 1) Mitchell delivered 54 of his 71 points in 24 minutes, and 2) Mitchell turned it around with physicality, rebounding and defense.

A quality that connects four players occupying a single-game penthouse suite? Their connecting ability to induce their physical desires into a game at a moment’s notice. With Malone, it’s more blunt-force grandiose, but Jordan, Bryant and Mitchell all have similar camouflage gear.

Malone and Jordan supplemented their big scoring nights with a strong secondary stat: double-digit rebounds. But Mitchell’s performance stands out: his 11 assists.

Mitchell hit seven seconds. Grabbed eight rebounds. Score that magnificent 71 points. But those 11 assists do more than double-double. They represent Mitchell’s ability to force his will through facilitation… team w.

This is the statistical view I appreciate the most. Factoring helps a player’s total points. That means Malone accounted for 65 of his team’s total points. Jordan: 81. Bryant: 85.

Factoring in six of Michel’s 11 assists that resulted in 3-pointers? That means Mitchell accounted for 99 of the Cavaliers’ points.

It rarified. All the time. This takes us back to March 2, 1962. Landing Mitchell’s box score for the ages, right next to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game … which included two assists.

Final score: Chamberlain 104, Mitchell 99.

No asterisks.


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