Damian Lillard: Donovan Mitchell Deserves Rookie Of The Year Over Ben Simmons

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Maybe it’s because Donovan Mitchell’s game  has been compared to his, or because the rookie sensation had just led the Utah Jazz to a victory over his Portland Trail Blazers when he made his comments, but Damian Lillard thinks the Louisville product is in pole position for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.

He said as much on Sunday night, after Mitchell had led Jazz scorers with 27 points in a blowout victory over Portland despite Lillard’s 39.

Though he was less efficient a night later, shooting 9-of-28 for 25 points, the Jazz rookie came up with huge plays down the stretch to earn a narrow victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Jazz have ridden a 10-game winning streak to within a game and a half of the West’s eighth playoff seed. Mitchell, the 13th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has appeared in nine of those games, averaging 21 points, four rebounds, and 3.6 assists during the stretch; those numbers are historic.

Mitchell’s main competition for Rookie of the Year honors is Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons

Here’s how their seasons compare statistically, according to Sports Reference.

As far as team success goes, Simmons has the edge—his 76ers are 29-25 and seventh in the Eastern Conference; the Jazz are 29-28 and 10th out West.