When the Knicks were on the clock with the no. 8 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and in need of a point guard, New York City's own Donovan Mitchell was still available. Instead, the Knicks opted for Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell fell to the Jazz at no. 13.
Ntilikina has enjoyed moderate success, mostly earning his plaudits defensively, while Mitchell has exploded as a favorite to win Rookie of the Year on an overachieving Jazz team. But it could have been happening at Madison Square Garden and Mitchell admitted that would have been cool to have stayed home.
"Being back home would've been cool, playing in front of friends and family," Mitchell said, via Marc Berman of NY Post. "But in the same light, I'm happy where I'm at. They got a great rookie in Frank. He's going to be a star. He's figuring it out offensively. Defensively, he's already there. … I'm blessed to be where I'm at. There's definitely a part of me that - who wouldn't want to play back home and be where they grew up?"
Mitchell isn't actively fantasizing about what his life as a Knick would be like. He's more than happy with how things have turned out in Utah.
"I don't think, 'Man, what would it be if I put up 40 at the Garden,' " Mitchell said. "It's more like during the draft process how it would be great. I don't reflect where I could've been because I'm extremely happy where I'm at."
This season, Mitchell is averaging 19.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He was a member of the Rising Stars game on Friday night, as was Ntilikina, and will take part in the Dunk Contest on Saturday night. But for the individual accolades, Mitchell cares more about team success.
"The Rookie of the Year award, I'd rather make the playoffs than win the award," added Mitchell, whose Jazz are on an 11-game game win streak and one game out of the eighth seed. "The award lasts one season. The playoffs have that memory and bond for years in trying to win the title. I'd rather have memory with my teammates."