No team is playing better basketball than the Utah Jazz right now. The Jazz just pulled off another convincing win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night, 129-118 in the National spotlight. When I say “convincing” I mean the Jazz are beating teams by an average of 15.7 points during the streak. A big reason why Utah is blowing teams out is the play of All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, who may be on the verge of entering the MVP conversation this season.
If we look at the Jazz offense, it’s taken a huge step forward this season with basically the same personnel. Over the course of the win streak, Utah is averaging 116.6 points per game while shooting 44.3 percent from beyond the arc. The only team higher is the Los Angeles Clippers, though they have a lower overall +/- than Utah.
In that same stretch of games, Mitchell is averaging 27.9 points on some absolutely insane shooting splits — 51.1 percent from the floor, 51.8 from 3-point range and 91.4 from the free throw line. Mitchell’s averages are slowly starting to creep up after he started the season scoring around 21 points per contest. He’s just inside the top 20 among scorers in the League and is the best player on the team playing the best basketball right now.
So if we look on DraftKings Sportsbook and track D-Mitch’s MVP odds, the lowest number was 80/1 before the 2020-21 season began. They jumped up to 100/1 and that’s the number we’re at now — +10000. This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Sure, there are plenty of players ahead of Mitchell right now who are more deserving. Luka Doncic (+400) the favorite, Giannis Antetokounmpo (+600) the reigning MVP, LeBron James (+600) is starting to make his case after Thursday night.
The issue is with players like Nikola Jokic (+1000) and Joel Embiid (+1000), both riding some hype from a few weeks back. Anthony Davis (+2500) and James Harden (+4000) aren’t having seasons nearly up to par and are way ahead of Mitchell. Devin Booker (+8000) has arguably regressed with Chris Paul in town and is still ahead of Spida. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard (+8000) are both at the same line, but sort of cancel each other out.
The best comparison I have for Mitchell winning MVP is Derrick Rose back in 2010-11. That Chicago Bulls team finished with the best record in the NBA and Rose was the best player on the team. The Jazz — if they keep this up — will have a shot to do something similar and Mitchell will have a strong case as the best player on Utah. He’ll need to boost his scoring output in order to really make a strong case, but that’s something he’s already been doing.
The Jazz are right there with the Lakers and Clippers at 11-4 and second place in the West. If — by some act of God — the Jazz can finish ahead of both L.A. teams and claim the No. 1 seed, you’d have to consider Mitchell (and even Rudy Gobert at +50000) for MVP. It’s not like the Jazz have that much more depth than the Lakers and Clippers.
It’s not like the Jazz don’t have signature wins. They do. A victory over the Milwaukee Bucks and another dub over the Clippers. This is a ways away, but there’s a two week stretch in February in which Utah plays the Bucks again, the Clippers twice and then the Lakers. Some of those games will be very telling in the Western Conference standings race and the MVP race if Utah continues at this pace. If Mitchell keeps leading his team past the top competition in the NBA — at this rate — he’ll see his line for MVP jump and become a candidate.
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