Jazz-Celtics Key Matchup: Donovan Mitchell vs. Jayson Tatum

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz dunks against the Chicago Bulls on December 13, 2017 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz dunks against the Chicago Bulls on December 13, 2017 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz will look to end a four-game losing streak as they play the Boston Celtics on Friday. The matchup to watch will be between Donovan Mitchell and fellow rookie standout, Jayson Tatum.

When the NBA schedule was released on September, all Utah Jazz fans looked ahead and immediately recognized that the month of December was going to be one of the most difficult schedules in the league. Now halfway through the month, and it’s proving as challenging as we all thought.

Even though we saw this difficult stretch coming, many Jazz fans are seemingly surprised with the struggles the Jazz have gone through this month. That’s likely because the Jazz ripped off a six-game win streak to end the month of November and in the early parts of December. During that stretch they had the No. 1 offensive rating, the No. 3 defensive rating, and looked like one of the top teams in the league.

Then they lost four games in a row and it seems as though the sky is falling. We should probably take the advise of The J-Notes Editor Ryan Aston, and calm down. The NBA season is always going to be filled with ups and downs, and during this month of December, we all expected there to be plenty of downs.

Still, the losing streak will have to come to an end at some point, and for many Jazz fans a win against the Boston Celtics would one of the most satisfying teams for a win to come against. Gordon Hayward may be out for the year, but there is still resentment for the team who snatched him away from Utah.

One of the most intriguing matchups is going to be watching Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell go head-to-head with fellow standout rookie Jayson Tatum. The hype for Mitchell has seemingly surpassed all other rookies, but Tatum has still been one of the most consistently positive rookies all season.

When compared side-by-side, you really get an idea of the type of usage Mitchell is receiving compared to other rookies. Mitchell is just being asked to do so much more. He has a usage rate of 29.2 percent, which is one of the higher numbers in the league among all players, compared to Tatum’s 19.5 percent usage. Mitchell is attempting 6.5 shot attempts more per game than Tatum.

One of the main factors when determining Rookie of the Year honors is going to be what you prioritize. Is it a rookie putting up larger stats on a lesser team? Or a rookie who has lower numbers, but is having a very positive effect on the team with the best record in the East?

Good luck to all the voters out there who have to determine that.

Mitchell has been an absolute monster for the Jazz. If you remove the first seven games of the season, where Mitchell was still finding his role, he is averaging 20.7 points per game. He has topped 30 points three times, and had his epic 40-point performance against the Pelicans.

At times he has looked like the only positive player for the Jazz. In the loss to the lowly Bulls, he finished with 32 points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block.

Mitchell appears to be incredibly mature and respectful off the court, but on the court he has already shown to be an extremely competitive person. During the Utah Summer League, Mitchell and Jayson Tatum had a back and forth stretch where they went at each other. It is safe to say that the Jazz rookie won that matchup as well.

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Jayson Tatum looks like he was deserving of the number three pick in the draft, but Donovan Mitchell appears to have the edge in the Rookie of the Year race. Friday’s matchup to watch is going to be between Mitchell and Tatum, and the winner will clearly separate himself as the front-runner for Rookie of the Year.

The Jazz will also need Mitchell to have a big game if they hope to stop this losing streak from reaching five games. This will be a chance for Mitchell to once and for all show Jazz fans that he is the future, and that losing Hayward is not the end of the world. You’ll want to watch this one.