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When Donovan Mitchell traveled to Salt Lake City three weeks ago for a pre-draft workout with the Utah Jazz, it seemed like an exercise in futility. Mitchell, the high-flying guard out of Louisville, was a NBA draft lottery prospect and the Jazz's two first-round picks were at Nos. 24 and 30.
Mitchell shot the ball well in his workout and showcased his athleticism and defense, attributes that enticed the Jazz front office. After the workout, he professed affection for the organization and the city.
The Jazz actually ending up with the kid from New York? That looked unlikely. But Utah General Manager Dennis Lindsey worked his magic on Thursday night, packaging No. 24 and little-used forward Trey Lyles to the Denver Nuggets for No. 13 and the right to draft Mitchell.
"I'm still in shock," Mitchell said late Thursday night. "I didn't see myself here two months ago. So to be here is incredible."
That was not the only move the Jazz made in the first round. Utah later packed two of its three remaining picks in the draft, Nos. 30 and 42, and moved up to No. 28 in the first round via trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. With the No. 28 pick, the Jazz selected North Carolina power forward Tony Bradley, who left school after his freshman season with the Tar Heels and also had an impressive pre-draft workout for the Jazz.
To end the night, the Jazz took Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss at No. 55 overall. Williams-Goss worked out for the Jazz last week.
"I've been waiting for this moment all my life," Mitchell said. "Everybody says that, but it's one thing to say it and one thing to kind of live it, and I'm just really blessed to be a part of this organization. I'm just ready to put the work in, and I'm ready for the first day of practice."
In previous years, Lindsey earned a reputation of being aggressive on draft nights. He certainly lived up to that Thursday the Jazz have made a draft night trade in five consecutive years.
"He loved us, we loved him," Lindsey said. "It was mutual admiration. Much like Tony and Nigel, they wanted us a much as we wanted them. But as you all know, it's talent evaluation first, it's a fit. And They have legit Jazz DNA."
Mitchell is undersized for shooting guard at 6-foot-3. But he's a tenacious defender, has a 36-inch standing vertical leap and he was one of the fastest players in the NBA draft combine.
Mitchell was one of the best players in the vaunted Atlantic Coast Conference this past season. He averaged 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for Louisville. He shot 46 percent from the floor and 35.4 percent from 3-point range, and was named first team all-ACC.
"I've always been confident," Mitchell said. "But to play at this level, you need a certain kind of confidence that puts you head and shoulders above other people. I think two months ago is when it really kind of clicked for me."
The Jazz identified Mitchell and Bradley as the two players they wanted, and made the moves needed to bring them in.
Mitchell was pegged to go as high as in the top 10 overall in some mock drafts. The surprising part of the trade was by including Lyles in the deal, Utah only had to surrender one first-round pick. That way, Utah was able to then make a second move later in the first round to pick up Bradley.
"Donovan is a unique player," Lindsey said. "He's got to be developed and he's got to get better. But he has a lot of tools. He's more ready defensively than offensively, but he's improved a lot."
It was announced that Denver had selected Mitchell, which surprised the former Cardinal. He hadn't engaged in any dialogue with the Nuggets in the past month.
"I didn't work out for them, and I didn't interview with them," Mitchell said. "So, it definitely threw me off."
But as Mitchell was walking toward the stage at the Barclays Center to shake NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's hand, he saw the trade announced on an adjacent television and pumped his fist.
"I'm just really blessed to be a part of this organization," Mitchell said.
R Utah packages Trey Lyles and No. 24 pick to Denver for the right to select Donovan Mitchell at No. 13.
• The Jazz move up to No. 28 from No. 30 and take North Carolina's Tony Bradley.
• Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss is selected in the second round.