Atlantic Notes: Mitchell, Barrett, VanVleet, Brogdon

The Knicks are about to get their first look at Donovan Mitchell since spending much of the summer trying to trade for him, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Buoyed by Mitchell’s addition, the Cavaliers are tied for second in the East at 4-1 and they’ll try to improve that record when they host New York on Sunday.

The Jazz and Knicks held protracted trade talks through the offseason, but they weren’t able to finalize a deal, allowing Cleveland to swoop in with an offer for the three-time All-Star. Mitchell has been everything the Cavs thought he would be, averaging career highs in points (31.0), rebounds (4.8) and assists (6.4) through the first five games of the season.

“The one thing he does extremely well is he stops on a dime. When he drives hard to the basket and he stops, with the speed and agility he has, he always creates separation,” said Evan Fournier, who was rumored to be in several versions of the Mitchell trade. “He’s really hard to guard. He’s very streaky. He can be not efficient at times. But when he gets it going, it feels like he can’t miss.” 

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The KnicksRJ Barrett has struggled with his shot this season, but he’s making up for it with defense, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. Barrett, who was also rumored to be part of proposed packages for Mitchell, will likely get the first chance at slowing him down on Sunday. “Ever since (coach Tom Thibodeau) got here, the whole defensive intensity kind of picked up, and just me being that guy on certain players every night,” Barrett said. “It’s been a fun challenge. Watching the film, trying to get better every day. Really, that’s it. … Just a commitment. Coming in locked in and focused every day. I think it’s more mental than physical.”
  • The Raptors risk burning out Fred VanVleet if they can’t find some backcourt help, warns Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. VanVleet is averaging a team-high 38 minutes per game, and Toronto doesn’t have a reliable point guard replacement off the bench.
  • Malcolm Brogdon is playing fewer minutes with the Celtics than he did with the Pacers, but his new teammates appreciate everything he does when he’s on the court, per Jay King of The Athletic. “To be able to come in and accept a role that he’s not used to — and I know from experience that’s not easy to do,” Marcus Smart said. “But he’s done it, he’s been professional. And then to come in and be able to not miss a step when he does come in, it’s like he’s been with us ever since day one.”
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