With Bojan Bogdanovic out, Jazz's Donovan Mitchell looks to become 'better passer'

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell sees an opportunity for growth in one category when NBA action resumes this month: passing.

The 23-year-old All-Star is averaging a career-best 24.2 points and 4.4 rebounds with 4.2 assists, which matches his top output from last year, but without second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic, he wants to do more.

"Becoming a better passer ... more willing passer. I think getting into the lane, obviously, I get there and take certain shots, but I think, being able to find my teammates," Mitchell said during Thursday's Zoom media availability. "Especially with Bojan being out, we're gonna need guys to kind of pick it up and pick up the slack that he had.

"Getting [my teammates] easier looks, which then also comes back and makes it easier on myself, but being able to do that I think will not just help me for where we are now, but help me for years upon my career."

Bogdanovic, Utah's No. 2 scoring option, will remain out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured ligament in his right wrist in May.

The Jazz were 41-23 before the league suspended the season, following Utah center Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test on March 11. Mitchell then tested positive the following day.

The Jazz will now resume action in the first game of the restarted season on July 30 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

They arrived in the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort on July 7. Teammates say Mitchell has grown throughout this process.

"He looks like he's ready, he's in pretty good shape," said Jazz guard Emmanuel Mudiay. "Just talking when we were going through the quarantine, he was just trying to make sure he doesn't let himself gain too much weight, but other than that he's been fine. He looks like he's ready to go, and he looks like he's at peace."

"From Year 1 to Year 2 to Year 3, I've seen some type of growth either on the court or off the court. Just him helping me, especially off the court and on the court. Year 1, I didn't play as much," added Jazz center Tony Bradley. "Year 2, I didn't play as much, but when I got an opportunity to play this year a little bit, he was always trying to help me on the court and just doing different things. He's a great leader."

Mitchell has a 14.7 assist ratio, which is the number of assists a player averages per 100 possessions used. That ranks 53rd out of the 86 active players averaging at least 15 PPG, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, and 24th out of the 28 such players 6-foot-4 or shorter -- ahead of only Buddy Hield, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson and Norman Powell.

On the Jazz, he ranks sixth in assist ratio among players to play at least 10 games this season, behind Joe Ingles, Royce O'Neale, Mike Conley, Mudiay and Dante Exum (before he was traded to Cleveland for Clarkson in December).

Ingles leads the team with a 33.6 assist ratio.

Mitchell is a rising star with a second signature Adidas sneaker expected to release in August, but strengthening his weaknesses is something he's serious about.

That starts with better passing and playmaking.

"The biggest thing for me is not allowing the name I've created on the floor and off the floor to kind of affect the work that I've been doing. Continuing to work on my game, get better as a teammate, better as a leader, better as a player in so many different ways," Mitchell said. "I think that's really where it starts because it's easy to kind of get what I've been able to get at an early age and early in your career and kind of just chill. I try to do the exact opposite and kind of just focus on myself and the game and let everything else kind of flow the way it has been."