Cavaliers Notes: Mitchell, Knicks, LeVert, Garland

The Cavaliers knew they were getting a star when they traded for Donovan Mitchell, but so far he’s been better than anyone anticipated, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. Mitchell had 38 points and a career-high 12 assists Sunday night as Cleveland won its fifth straight game, topping a Knicks team that spent much of the summer trying to acquire Mitchell from the Jazz. Even though he’s a three-time All-Star, Mitchell is exceeding expectations.

“We already had such a great group, but I think he just elevates us to another place,” Kevin Love said. “A guy that has experience, a guy that is a star in this league is playing some really great basketball right now. … We don’t see any signs of him slowing down.”

Through six games with the Cavs, Mitchell ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 32.2 PPG and is in the top 10 in assists at 7.3 per night. Both numbers would be career highs by a wide margin if he can sustain them for an entire season. Mitchell doesn’t feel like he’s a different player since the trade, but says he was often overlooked in Utah.

“We were in Mountain time. No one really watched us, so you kinda fall under the radar,” he said. “I feel like I’ve just been doing this nonstop, and I just continue to get better and more efficient. … I think this has been my best stretch in my career, but I gotta keep going.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Mitchell, who at one point during the offseason was convinced he was going to wind up in New York, told Steve Popper of Newsday that he wasn’t trying to deliver any kind of message to the Knicks in Sunday’s game. “It’s easy to point to the summer and say that [it was payback], but I’m pretty much friends with everybody on that team, so it’s always good to play against your guys and I have nothing but love for them,” Mitchell said.
  • Caris LeVert impressed Mitchell with his 41-point outburst in Friday’s win at Boston, per Chris Fedor of LeVert won the competition for the starting small forward slot, but is currently being used at shooting guard while Darius Garland is sidelined with an eye injury. “I played against Caris in Brooklyn and nothing against him last year, he had the injuries, but I think this is the Caris we all know,” Mitchell said. “He looks healthy and looks different. He was due. He’s been an animal. He led us by example.”
  • Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the swelling in Garland’s eye has gone down and the team is waiting for him to become more comfortable with his vision, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
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