Utah Jazz rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell made a brief visit to Manila on Sunday to take part in several activities set up by adidas Philippines.
Mitchell, one of the NBA stars under the adidas banner -- along with Houston Rockets' James Harden, Portland Trailblazers' Damian Lillard and New York Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis -- is coming off a spectacular first year where he averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
He led the Jazz to a playoff spot after finishing the regular season with a 48-34 record. Mitchell was instrumental in helping Utah take down the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. But they eventually fell in six games to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semis.
Mitchell, who is one of the candidates for the Rookie of the Year award, took some time on Sunday to talk with the local media and answer questions on Russell Westbrook, which parts of his game he intends to improve on, and why homework is important. He also gave his two cents on film sessions and super teams.
On facing his idol Russell Westbrook
Mitchell: "I played against Russell Westbrook the first time, and you watch enough highlights of the guy, so you kind of know what he's gonna do. I said something to him like, 'Good move.' He looked at me and said, 'Why you talking to me?' That was kind of like my rookie moment, I guess you could say."
On getting advice from different people
Mitchell: "Listening [to other people] impacted me a huge way. I think that was one of the main reasons why I was able to do what I did this entire year. Just listening to my veterans and my coaches, and finding ways to continue to get better. It's not easy, the games are exhausting. If you don't listen to your teammates or listen to your elders, you really don't have a shot."
On teammates who helped him during the first year
Mitchell: "A lot of guys helped me. There's Ricky [Rubio] on how to be a point guard and being a leader. Joe Ingles with just life in general and what to expect. Thabo [Sefolosha], he taught me how to take care of my body and how to eat right, which I'm still working on."
On his mindset for next season
Mitchell: "Just forget about what happened last year. Act like it never happened. The rookie season is over with. [I need to think of] getting better defensively. Taking less shots. Better passes and less turnovers. Just finding ways to hit tougher shots.... I have to find a way to become 10 times better than I was last year."
On film sessions and attention to detail
Mitchell: "To be honest, film sessions are boring ... if you don't know what you're looking for. When you watch all the bad things about you, you feel like, 'I suck.' It's like I need to look at why I turned the ball over eight times against Houston, or why I averaged eight or nine point less against Houston than the other teams. You kind of go into it with that attitude. And one guy I look at who does that is Kobe Bryant. He didn't do film sessions to watch his successes, he watched games where he played terrible and how he can make those adjustments. If you approach it with that mindset and pay attention to every little thing -- like not coming off the ball screen hard, didn't follow through, or didn't box out -- those little things become bigger things. Film work is my way of getting better."
Advice to incoming rookies
Mitchell: "Have fun. I had fun the entire year. Understand that mistakes are a part of it. At the end of the day, it's just basketball. We're blessed to play this game, have this talent and these skills. So have fun, and act like you belong. If you don't act like you belong and you don't show that confidence -- there are guys who thrive off of that, you can't back down."
On his pre-game meal and routine
Mitchell: "I eat pancakes, eggs and bacon when I wake up. About four, five pancakes and four, five eggs and four strips of bacon. I'm not the healthiest guy. Then lunch, Caesar salad with chicken and shrimp. Dinner it's spaghetti, grilled chicken and meatballs with meat sauce, usually. Every game day, I got to shootaround and I take a nap and wake up an hour before I'm supposed to leave and kind of listen to the same 12 songs on the road. When I get to the arena, I'm all smiles and happy-go-lucky until the ball goes up in the air. That's when it switches for me."
On doing homework
Mitchell: "For all the kids in here, homework is the most important thing. [Basketball] eventually ends. But when you graduate and have a degree, it says with you forever. Like my mom always says, 'The ball runs out of air eventually.' Thank God I had my parents to keep in line. As you get older, you see the importance of listening to your family because it goes a long way."
Mitchell: "What do I think of super teams? I think that's how the league is played now. There's no sense in saying I don't like it, I do like it because you have to adjust. There's no time for me to say, 'I want to do it on my own.' Look at Golden State, they've been the champion for three of the past four years. We got find ways to adapt to beat them. That's just how it is, that's what you gotta do. I don't think [super teams] are not necessarily a bad thing, it's just what needs to be done. If you run and you can't make it past a certain point, you have to work harder and made adjustments to get past that certain point, right? Unfortunately, a lot of these super teams are in the West and not the East, which I play four times a year."