Donovan Mitchell wins Breakthrough Athlete of the Year award
Both rookies were in the running — along with football running back Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints and tennis player Sloane Stephens — for the 2018 ESPYS Best Breakthrough Athlete, and the “Spida” won.
— ESPN (@espn) July 19, 2018
Mitchell and Simmons were notably far ahead of 2017-18’s amazing rookie crop and just a month into the season, it was only a choice between the two with the Philadelphia 76ers’ oversized point guard being penciled in as the likely winner. This led to Mitchell making not-quite-veiled references to the 6-foot-10 Australian’s rookie credentials (having “redshirted” his actual draft year due to injury) by wearing clothing with a dictionary definition for it.
Their back and forth continued throughout the season until the playoffs in which their fellow NBA players joined in to give their two cents on the heated battle, especially after Simmons nonchalantly stated that there is no contest and it’s “not even close.”
And while the 21-year-old ultimately lost the Rookie of the Year award, his stellar rookie season will definitely not be forgotten. Selected as the 13th overall pick, Mitchell exceeded all expectations and managed to play his way into the starting lineup in no time. The former Louisville Cardinal averaged 20.5 points (leading all rookies), 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 43.7 percent from the field, including 34.0 percent from behind the arc.
In the playoffs, his numbers were even better — putting up 24.4 points in 11 games, en route to passing Michael Jordan for the most points by a guard in his first two postseason games.
With a potential Adidas signature shoe on the way and a spate of media appearances, Mitchell is poised for an even better 2018-19 run with the Jazz.