As crazy as it seems, Donovan Mitchell is already entering the fifth year of his professional basketball career. It seemed like just yesterday we watched him get his first start in place of a gassy Rodney Hood, and would go on to dazzle jazz fans and the rest of the NBA as a rookie. Even considering how magical that first season was, Donovan Mitchell continues to exceed expectations and get better each season. Since then, Donovan has increased his points per game in every season. He’s become a great leader both on and off the court. He’s embedded himself in Utah Jazz history, casually breaking records held by franchise legends. He’s led the Jazz to the playoffs every single season he’s been here, advancing to the second round two of of the four years. He’s been named an All-star in back-to-back seasons, continues to collect endorsement and brand deals every year.
Considering all of Mitchell’s success so far in Utah, what could possibly be on his mind now? Probably the same thing that’s on his teammates, coaches, and fans minds: an NBA Championship. The Jazz fell short months ago in the playoffs, after some bad luck with injuries, and a couple really poor stretches of basketball. Justin Zanik, with a new sense of power and responsibility, made some immediate moves to address the glaring weaknesses the Jazz showed in the playoff loss against the clippers: wing defense/athleticism, and center depth. They signed Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside, and traded for Donovan Mitchell’s BFF from prep school Eric Paschall. These moves undoubtedly make the Utah Jazz a better team than they were last year, when they finished with the NBA’s best record.
With the Jazz getting a boost and possibly being even better than last season, we need to look at the climbing possibility of a Donovan Mitchell MVP run. Crazy enough as it is, Donovan Mitchell did not finish in the top 10 of MVP voting last season. Considering his 26.4 points per game, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds on the best team in the NBA, it seems like that was an absolute travesty. His ankle injury that kept him out of the final month of the season definitely had something to do with that, but still. National analysts heavily underestimated what Donovan Mitchell meant to this team last season. Rudy Gobert finished 7th in MVP, which was deserved on Rudy’s part. Not including Donovan for the weight that he pulled all season was pretty crazy.
With last season behind us, looking towards the future, Can Mitchell improve enough in the eyes of voters to make a run at the MVP this coming season? Early MVP odds have Don tied for 18th at 40/1.
The odds for the 2021-22 NBA MVP, per @betonline_ag.— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) August 18, 2021
Kawhi Leonard somehow has better odds at winning it than guys like Khris Middleton and Jimmy Butler. pic.twitter.com/gySIHRuYfs
40/1 for a Donovan Mitchell bet is actually really good value. If they stay healthy, the Jazz are most likely going to finish in the top 3 of the west, and might just repeat as the number one seed. If things go like they did last regular season, and they have the best record in the NBA again, and say Donovan Mitchell goes off an averages 28-30 points per game, it’s going to be hard to say he’s not a real candidate for MVP. Looking at this list, it’s a little surprising to see some of these guys ahead of Mitchell, honestly. The biggest thing that a MVP run will come down to for Mitchell, is if he can continue to get better. He’s gotten better every single year he’s been in the league. He’s a two-time All-Star already, and I think he still has plenty left in his bag of tricks.
Mitchell has been active on social media this offseason, making sure to post videos and pictures of his workouts. These posts have been heavily enjoyed by Jazz fans - maybe by some groups more than others, especially because a handful of them involve a shirtless Donovan Mitchell.
Mitchell’s looking a little more shredded this year, which is always a great sign. We always love seeing offseason videos of NBA players doing open gym workouts. You truly get to see how insanely good these guys are when they aren’t being swarmed by other athletic freaks.
@spidadmitchell doing a dribble progression drill. I inverted the progression of the clips though. As you can see Don really pounds the ball & focuses on extremely quick releases!! This is very impressive! pic.twitter.com/5QIPftu1Jz— Chris Joseph Brickley (@Cbrickley603) August 17, 2021
This video that Donovan’s trainer Chris Brickley posted of Spida’s handles and shots is pretty insane. It gets me excited every year when I see these in the offseason, seeing new tricks the guys are doing to improve their handles and game. Donovan Mitchell is insanely gifted, and continues to put in the work each offseason to get better. If he get’s any better this coming season, and the Jazz stay near the top of the NBA in terms of record, he will have a real shot at snagging an MVP, which is just an insane accomplishment.