Featured image courtesy of Sports news
Welcome to the first column of where Mark was right and Y’all were wrong! The NBA conference semifinals have taught us so much. This transient period of basketball enlightenment has engulfed all of us, and I feel that it would be a personal shame if I did not point out all of your fatal misjudgment in basketball predictions. With that said, over the next couple of days, I will tackle all truths that have revealed themselves now that we are at least a quarter through the conference semifinals
Donovan Mitchell is the true NBA Rookie of the Year
I had to start off with this one because I just know that the blog boys of the world are kicking themselves for this one. The race between Ben Simmons and Mitchell has been a season-long one, with most of the media writers and sports analysts conceding to Simmons.
Regular season award or not, the best players elevate during the postseason.
cc: Toronto Raptors and Lebron James
Mitchell led a significant team in a much stronger conference throughout the NBA season in scoring. Throughout the regular season, he finished top 11 in fourth-quarter scoring at 6.4 points a game. He was the only rookie in the top 25 4th quarter scoring leaders in the NBA. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t 4th quarter scoring sort of important?
But what do I know, I’m just a former recreation league MVP, and hold the record for most points in a church league game.
After disposing of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games, Mitchell, and the Jazz are currently tied 1-1 with the heavy favorites, Houston Rockets.
More than that though, there is this intangible about Mitchell that these playoffs have revealed. More than the 26.1 points per game and 6.4 rebounds that he’s currently averaging. By the way, which is nuts considering his numbers have all exponentially elevated in the playoffs, while Simmons has actually regressed in scoring slightly.
No, it’s the way he carries himself during games; When he has the ball, you just know that he’s going to do something special with it, regardless of who he’s going up against. I don’t feel that same confidence with Simmons, and it’s why I think that although he is a solid player, the lack of a jump shot and the cringe-worthy paralysis he gets when left open by the defense is simply not palatable.
I watched every game of the Thunder-Jazz series, currently watching the Rockets-Jazz series now, and Mitchell is playing like a superstar, not a rookie. He’s top 10 in playoff free throw percentage, currently at 90.3 %, which is a significant bump from the regular season. He’s currently 7th amongst all active players in defensive win shares and eclipses Simmons in overall individual defensive rating for the playoffs. The defensive maturity displayed by Mitchell when guarding and wreaking havoc on Westbrook, or fearlessly playing Chris Paul, is implausible.
But to do that AND make tough shots as a rookie, deserves to be applauded.
Image courtesy of bleacher report
The Utah Jazz is not only fun to watch on the court, but off the court as well. I watch every postgame interview, and the big four players for Utah- Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Alec Burks, and Mitchell are a sight to see in the media room. It truly alludes to the unselfish nature of Mitchell to share the spotlight with his teammates, and the infusion of fun that he has brought to the roster since being drafted last summer.
I have literally tried to compare him all season to several legends, and most like to analogize Simons and Mitchell to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird respectively. Very accurate comparison since those two also led their teams to at least the conference semifinals as rookies, but the talent level remains to be seen. However, when you hear about Magic Johnson, they talk about his big smile, and how fun he was as a teammate. Could I not make the argument that Donovan Mitchell, who has a million dollar smile, could have the same psychological impact on his team that Magic did?
Is Ben Simmons capable of that?
That remains to be seen, and I can only judge on what we have seen so far.
Simmons will win rookie of the year in all likelihood. I won’t be shocked at all.
But the NBA media got it wrong this year.
*Follow me on twitter @mark_a_gilbert for more of my work guys!