Donovan Mitchell has given himself some extra homework for his first trip to the playoffs.

The Utah Jazz rookie spends hours breaking down film with his coach, Quin Snyder, and even more time working with Jazz assistant coach Johnnie Bryant. But even that’s not enough for Mitchell. So as the 21-year-old has prepped for the postseason, the Jazz’s star guard has been getting some tutoring on the side.

“But aside from getting the help from the coaching staff, I’ve been going throughout the league with guys that have been in the playoffs and kinda figuring out.”

The extra prep courses are paying off.

Mitchell scored 55 points — the most ever for a rookie — in the first two playoff games of his career. Mitchell added 22 more points in 115-102 victory over the Thunder on Saturday night. The win put the Jazz two wins away from advancing out of the first round. And that’s one reason why Mitchell doesn’t reveal which NBA veterans he has been leaning on for advice.

“Some of them are in the playoffs,” he said. “Who knows, we might end playing some of them.”

Snyder suspects he knows to whom Mitchell has been talking — and the coach is glad the youngster is listening.

“There’s always something unique if you can take some advice or counsel from Chris Paul or somebody,” Snyder. “I know Donovan spent some time with Chris at his camp this summer. I think it’s terrific. I don’t think Donovan is searching elsewhere because he’s confused or anything. He just wants to learn, and those are great guys to learn from.”

Mitchell and Paul have crossed paths during the season. The veteran point guard spent time with the Jazz rookie in Los Angeles over All-Star weekend. Mitchell and Paul could meet again in Houston if Utah advances to the second round.

That Mitchell is seeking out advice from the league’s best only reinforces what his coaches and teammates have come to know about him over the course of his first season in Utah. The rookie is curious, a trait harnessed and honed thanks to his mother’s guidance and years spent in East Coast private schools. He is constantly in search of answers in film study or on the sideline.

“He’s just asking a lot of questions and that’s great because he seems like he wants to learn,” Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio said. “He wants to get better every day.”

Mitchell also clearly is charismatic, which has helped him build relationships with NBA stars so early in his career. The first time Paul George played against Mitchell, he became a believer. It was just a pre-draft workout last summer, but the youngster was feisty and he had that “wanting-to-be-the-best-player-on-the-floor mentality”.

“He’s gonna be special,” the Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward said this week.

George, however, already has said he’s not exchanging pleasantries, let alone advice, with Mitchell during the series. That’s because Mitchell is the rare rookie in position to use his relationships and inquisitive nature on such a prominent stage, with the ball in his hands, leading a team in the NBA playoffs.

Mitchell saved the Jazz during Game 2 in Oklahoma City, when he went off for 13 points in the fourth quarter after receiving some advice and a stern look from Jazz center Ekpe Udoh.

“He’s special,” Udoh said later. “The key is he listens.”

Mitchell is quick to learn from film and make adjustments. But even he has been surprised by how much goes into winning in the postseason.

“I always knew it was mental. I knew guys thought the game, but I never really knew what it meant until right about now,” Mitchell said. “You can’t make the same mistakes you made in [a playoff game] like you did in the regular season.”

Mitchell hasn’t been perfect in this series, but he has proved a quick study. The rookie finished with 22 points Saturday after another double-digit fourth quarter. Mitchell is averaging a team-high 6.4 points in the fourth quarter this season and 9 in this series.

“You’ve got three quarters to figure out how they’re guarding the pick-and-roll against me, and how they’re guarding against Ricky and how they’re guarding against Joe [Ingles],” Mitchell said. “… It gives me three quarters to analyze. Then in the fourth quarter, it’s like, all right, you finally get to the last part of the exam you’ve been studying for.”


The point totals for the Jazz rookie in the fourth quarter against the Thunder.

Game 1 • 4

Game 2 • 13

Game 3 • 10


When • 8:30 p.m. Monday

Where • Vivnt Smart Home Arena

Series • Jazz lead 2-1