By all accounts, this season has been a rousing success for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Donovan Mitchell. The Cavs are primed for their first non-LeBron James playoff appearance since 1998, while Mitchell was named the team’s lone All-Star last month.
Mitchell is having a career year in scoring, shredding the net for 27.5 points on 47.7% from the field. His 60.6% true shooting rate is also his best since entering the NBA in 2017. He set a Cavs single-game scoring record back in January, going for 71.
But for all his strong play, Mitchell is a distant +50000 to take home the league’s MVP award. Seemingly lost in the discourse on Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic is just how sterling Mitchell has been in his first season in Lake Erie.
Former Cavs big man Kendrick Perkins is taking note, however. In a recent edition of NBA on ESPN, the player-turned-broadcaster praised Mitchell and went so far as to say he’s the “best” at his position.
It’s high praise for Mitchell, especially considering the company Perkins vaulted him over. Both Brown and Booker were integral parts of their teams’ respective Finals runs. Mitchell, meanwhile, has found limited success in the playoffs.
Donovan Mitchell Sounds Off on Cavs’ Playoff Goals
That deep playoff run is something Mitchell is acutely aware of and pining for this season.
After gashing the Bulls for 71 points in January, Mitchell spoke with Perkins about his playoff aspirations.
“JT’s (Jayson Tatum) made to the Finals, Luka (Doncic)’s been to the conference finals, we’re continuously knocking the doors of groups, so for myself, I can be one of the best players in this league, and I believe I am one of the best players in this league. But all that comes from winning.
“It doesn’t mean anything if we’re not a playoff team and not in playoff contention. so winning takes care of everything,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell has been on some excellent regular season teams as a member of the Utah Jazz. In five of his six seasons in Salt Lake City, Mitchell guided the Jazz to 48 wins or more; the one season he didn’t reach that mark, the Jazz still managed 44 wins.
Despite that success, however, the Jazz never made it out of the conference semifinals.
Donovan Mitchell Itching for MVP Honor
But Mitchell also kept it real with Perkins: he very naturally wants to compete for MVP awards during his career.
“I can sit here and say I want to win MVP. I know I want to be First Team All-NBA, all that for sure, there’s no doubt. Who doesn’t want that?,” Mitchell asked.
Even still, Mitchell is focused on bringing the Cavaliers playoff basketball for the first time since 2018.
” I always say the individual goals are great, but at the end of the day, Perk, when you win, all the individual stuff for everybody takes care of itself.
“But if I had 71 tonight and we lost, there’s no conversation to be had in my eyes. Yeah, it’s a great performance, but it’s all about winning at the end of the day at the highest level.”
The Cavaliers are just two wins away from officially clinching a playoff berth.