Utah Jazz sixth man spearheads Donovan Mitchell’s clear MVP campaign

Utah Jazz (Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports) /

Take note of one Utah Jazz guard making a case for his teammate to win MVP.

With Saturday night’s 126-110 zapping of the Memphis Grizzlies (21-22) in Salt Lake City, the league-leading Jazzmen (34-11) have won five straight, not to mention their 19-game unblemished home streak. And in light of recent brilliance from Utah Jazz gem Donovan Mitchell, some argue the top talent on the top team must now appear in Sharpie among MVP candidates.

One man who appears to be spearheading said argument is Utah’s bonafide Sixth Man of the Year candidate, Jordan Clarkson.

Immediately following a 63-point outing between Mitchell and Clarkson — a combined  23-for-38 clip from the field, including 10-for-19 from deep — in Round 2 of a back-to-back against the Grizzlies, the two sizzling guards spoke to Kristen Kinney on AT&T SportsNet.

When Clarkson stepped to the mic, “Mitchell for MVP” talk instantly became front and center:

“Three letters, M-V-P…He in that race. I don’t care what nobody says. This dude is leading our team, doing a great job scoring, getting us open shots, playmaking, starting the game off aggressive. Scoring. He’s just doing everything. So like I said, three letters. Put him in the race, partner.”

Yup, it’s about that time…

Utah Jazz showpiece stringing together MVP-esque stretch

According to Utah Jazz TV broadcast statistician Tyson Ewing, the 200 points from Donovan “Spida” Mitchell across the squad’s past six games is the most for a Jazzman in such a span since Karl Malone’s 219 almost 23 years ago.

Shooting-wise, Mitchell has dazzled in these six contests to the tune of 70-for-127 (55.1 percent) from the field, including a 24-for-51 mark (47.1 percent) beyond the arc, and 36-for-38 (94.7 percent) from the charity stripe.

Of course, as any Jazz follower ought to be able to attest to by now, it’s not just bucket-getting that has the 24-year-old two-time All-Star naturally emanating MVP vibes. Just look at Mitchell’s past six stat lines, starting with his latest all-smiles performance:

  • 35 points, two rebounds, seven assists, one steal
  • 35 points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal
  • 27 points, six rebounds, seven assists, one steal
  • 30 points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal
  • 31 points, five rebounds, six assists, three steals
  • 42 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals

What the oh-so-consistent numbers above don’t show are Mitchell’s clutch moments in the only two close affairs during Utah’s five-game W streak. They also don’t show that he has played fewer than 30 minutes in three of these five most recent games due to the Jazz’s early cementing of wins, partly evident in the team prevailing in its past four first quarters by a total of 61 points.

On this note, when judging Mitchell’s career-high season averages of 25.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists through 43 appearances, one must take into account that 27 of Utah’s 34 victories have been by double-digit margins. This nugget, of course, equates to the mop-up crew regularly swiping a considerable chunk of playing time from the regulars in the final minutes of blowouts.

Besides, check out what Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report tweeted to highlight Mitchell’s all-around utter star power ever since stepping foot in the NBA four years ago:

MVP-worthy or not, as Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder expressed to the media on Saturday night after what was one of his main cast’s most prolific productions this season, it’s conceivable that the ultra-explosive Mitchell is still merely tapping the surface of his abundant potential:

“Watching Donovan evolve as a player, there’s obviously more there. He’s hungry.”

By playing with the same hunger that had his smooth, crisp Utah Jazz sparkling on Saturday like the clear-as-day title contender they are, the former No. 13 overall draft pick is fast-tracking his way to a potential feast as the clear-cut No. 1 player in the league.

In this regard, it should only help that many big-market fans continue to shrug off Donovan Mitchell and the low-profile Jazzmen as a doubtful playoff threat.

Take note, though, of the slight shift in outside doubt as of late. Getting kinda quiet. Yes, at the moment, Spida’s jazziest superpower is proving to be his ability to turn all naysayers into believers — whether they admit it or not.

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Again, just ask his unofficial MVP campaign manager, Jordan Clarkson.