Utah Jazz rookie roundup 2/13: Should the NBA consider a shared ROTY award?

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 12: Donovan Mitchell
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 12: Donovan Mitchell /

Rookies Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons are in a heated race for the Rookie of the Year award and Mitchell’s recent play may have propelled him to the top of the pack.

The Rookie of the Year debate is alive and well, perhaps even raging, in the Twitter-verse and even on ESPN and SportsCenter. In a season where draft, pre-season, and off-season coverage were dominated by Lonzo Ball, it was impossible for any NBA fan, particularly a Jazz fan, to fathom the idea that mainstream coverage would center on Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell.

Yet every game, Mitchell makes it harder and harder for anyone to ignore him. After the Jazz came back from a 13-point deficit to defeat the San Antonio Spurs for their 10th straight win, we’re seeing some pretty staggering statistics, such as being the first rookie since the 1959-60 season to lead a team in scoring through a 10-game winning streak.

He’s also leading the team in scoring at 19.5 points per game.

I do endorse and recommend watching the full four minutes of this.

And not only is Mitchell scoring, he’s scoring when it counts. In the fourth quarter.

So he’s rookie of the year, right?

While Donovan is posting incredible rookie numbers and is far and away the best rookie of this draft class, he has a fellow rookie (from last year’s class, but yes he’s still playing NBA competition in the regular season for the first time which makes him a rookie) named Ben Simmons who has been compared to LeBron James in terms of basketball IQ, court vision, passing ability, athleticism, size, and impact on both ends of the floor.

In short, Ben Simmons is a “generational talent” (overused phrase, but whatever). The most common debate you see on Twitter (well, my Twitter) these days is “Ben Simmons vs Donovan Mitchell” and it’s getting a little tedious. And while it started as a Jazz fans vs. Sixers fans debate, it’s now reached a national level and people are weighing in from everywhere.

And frankly, both are deserving. Ben Simmons fans are saying, “he’s better in every stat but points” and Mitchell fans say, “he’s scoring more and is leading a team as a rookie plus Ben’s not a rookie”.

Honestly, there are good and bad arguments on either side.

I don’t know if there really is a true answer of who is more deserving at this point, as much as my heart wants to scream “Donovan!”. But an interesting idea has been bounced around that heralds back to the 1993-94 season where Grant Hill and Jason Kidd both were named Rookie of the Year together.

I’m not sure if there’s been as polarizing of a discussion about this award in recent memory, but there also hasn’t been a rookie class like this since Twitter even came into existence.

What I do know and believe to be true is that talent is not a see-saw. Twitter-folk like to pretend that if Ben Simmons is the leader of the race, Donovan Mitchell must be no good. And vice versa. This is plainly untrue and why it shouldn’t even matter who wins.

Donovan himself said as much when he indicated he would prefer a 5th seed in the playoffs over the award.

And with this comment, Donovan may have cemented his place in Jazz lore as next in line for a statue. This celebration from last night’s win was even reminiscent of John Stockton after “the shot”.

Next: Utah Jazz – San Antonio Spurs react: Jazz get 10th straight in gritty fashion

We couldn’t love him more.

Rookie of the Year or not, the Utah Jazz have a real prize.