On January 2nd, Donovan Mitchell became the 12th player in NBA history, or the third player in the 2000s, to score over 70 points in a game with 71 against Chicago.
Mitchell shot 65% from the floor with 7 made threes, 20 made free throws, and even brought in 11 assists and 8 boards.
But, how does his game compare to Devin Bookers’ 70 in 2017 and Kobe’s 81 in 2006?
Not to completely dismiss Mitchell’s historic night, but a brief shoutout is needed for the Black Mamba, as his already impressive 81 would be 88 in a balanced era.
Going back to Mitchell, his ability to get to the line and attack all night, despite logging 50 minutes, was the biggest key to his record-setting performance.
Plus, pretty much all of his contributions were needed, as this game went to Overtime before Cleveland won by 11.
This 2023 season has seen plenty of abnormal stat lines from their current stars. Whether we’re talking about Mitchell’s 71-points, Luka Doncic’s 60-point, 21 rebounds, 10 assists over the Knicks, or Nikola Jokic’s 40-point, 27 rebounds, 10 assist game against the Hornets, the production from the league’s top percentile of athletes are at a notable high.
Now, this should not take away from the significance of Mitchell’s performance. Instead, it should show an appreciation for how impressive the scoring metrics of today’s game currently are.
Similar to the beginning years of the three-point revolution, it seems as though offenses and defenses alike are adjusting to a new style of efficient play, in which several early MVP candidates are taking advantage of the transitional period.
And for Mitchell and his Cavaliers squad, it could not come at a better time, as they currently stand in the thick of a playoff berth with a young, moldable core surrounding their new number 1 option.
With Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, and Caris LaVert all producing at an efficient level despite adding such a high-volume player like Mitchell taking away potential shots, they have not only a productive unit on the floor, but a cost-productive one.
Mitchell, on the second year of a 5-year, $163 million contract, barely surpasses Kevin Love’s cap hit of $28.9 this year, which would not be possible if for the low-end contracts of their supporting cast.
While they currently sit just under $30 million over the salary cap this season, the team has some flexibility to work through these higher contracts thanks to Garland & Mobley’s combined cap hit of $16 million.
But, even though Mitchell’s contract may be pushing them into the minus financially at the moment, his historic night and All-Star caliber season so far show how worth it his contract truly is, especially considering how far he could take them in the playoffs.