The Cleveland Cavaliers have been on a tear since the calendar flipped over to 2024. They have won 14 of 16, thanks in large part to Donovan Mitchell’s stellar play that, once again, has been rewarded with a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star Game roster. Mitchell’s All-Star Weekend involvement, however, won’t be limited to Sunday, as he will be part of the star-studded crew of participants that will be vying for Damian Lillard’s 3-Point Contest crown.

Mitchell, on his own merit, deserves a spot in that competition; his three-point percentage may not be the healthiest, but he is one of the best three-point pull-up artists in the NBA who could put up points in a hurry. But there’s a bigger motivation that drove the Cavs guard to participate in one of the most anticipated events of All-Star Saturday Night.

“Sam [Merrill] didn’t want to do it. Sam’s my man so I tried to get him but he wanted to chill with his family so I figured, you know, why not go out there and win it for him, you know what I mean?” Mitchell told reporters, via

Sam Merrill has become a full-fledged rotation piece, an underrated development that has helped the Cavs become a much deeper team. Merrill has always had one of the purest three-point strokes in the NBA, but he has lacked opportunity. However, with the opportunity that came his way via the injury to Darius Garland, he has blossomed into one of the most lethal marksmen in the league, making 2.4 triples a night on an elite 43.6 percent shooting from long distance.

Alas, breaks come few and far between for NBA players during the long, grueling grind of the regular season. Merrill’s decision to stay at home and spend some quality family time is understandable. As for Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs star will be there in Indianapolis anyway, so it’s not like he’ll be missing out on other opportunities if he passes up on joining the 3-Point Contest.

Mitchell, however, will have some lofty competition; the likes of Damian Lillard, Jalen Brunson, Tyrese Haliburton, and Tyrese Maxey — all of whom are All-Stars as well — will be among Spida’s stiff competition. But Mitchell is never lacking in confidence, so expect him to put on a show, especially when he’s dedicating his performance to Sam Merrill.