Donovan Mitchell of Utah Jazz says he isn’t thinking about Rookie of the Year debate


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz rookie guard Donovan Mitchell, in a brief interview with ESPN, responded to Philadelphia 76ers standout Ben Simmons‘ assertion that he’s “100 percent” the Rookie of the Year.

“I really don’t care,” Mitchell told ESPN. “The biggest thing for me is that we’re in the fourth seed and fighting for the third seed. If I’m worrying about individual awards, I’m giving up on my teammates and what we’re trying to build here. Clearly, I’m not the one losing sleep over this. I don’t care.”

Mitchell said he first caught wind of Simmons’ remarks after receiving numerous calls and text messages on Monday morning.

“I got concerned at first,” he told ESPN. “I thought it was something serious. Then I heard about what he said and I was like, ‘whatever.’ That’s not my concern.”

What received the bulk of attention during Simmons’ sit-down with ESPN was when he dismissed the notion that R.O.Y. was a two-man race, as well as stating there are no rookies who have caught his attention this year.

“That’s why I tweeted that [Waka Flocka] GIF with the caption, ‘Okay…,'” Mitchell said.

When asked whether players should be eligible for the award based on their first playing time, or their first contractual year with the league, Mitchell said:

“I’ll say this. I’ll put it in perspective for people who obviously don’t play in the NBA and don’t know the life of the NBA. So, let’s say you have an exam to take on June 1 and you have a whole year to study for that exam, you’re going to get a pretty good grade on it, aren’t you? But some people may not have all that time to prepare for that exam. So, that’s how I look at it and I hope that puts it in perspective for people. But at the end of the day, we’re in the fourth seed. I got the Defensive Player of the Year and the Coach of the Year on my team, so I’m happy.”

Simmons, when questioned about the Rookie of the Year topic this season, has made it known how much he covets the award. According to those close to the point-forward, Simmons didn’t view his comments as a slight to Mitchell or any other rookie.

Mitchell arrived to the arena for Tuesday’s game against the Warriors wearing a hoodie that read: “Rookie: An athlete playing his or her first season as a member of a professional sports team.”

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma and weighed in on Twitter, as well.

Simmons, an Australia native, is doing it all for the Sixers. At 6-foot-10, he’s averaging 16.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game. And his team is sitting in the third spot in the Eastern Conference, enjoying a league-high 14-game winning streak.

Mitchell, a 6-foot-3 combo guard, is averaging a rookie-high 20.5 points per game and became the fastest rookie in league history to knock down 150 3-pointers, reaching the mark in 63 games.

“If I win, cool. I’m trying to win games,” Mitchell said. “But I don’t care. I don’t.”

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