Donovan Mitchell explains why the "surprise" factor should win him Rookie of the Year

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The Utah Jazz defied expectations this season as they secured a playoff spot and made it to the Western Conference semi-finals.

At the beginning of the year, not many people believed this was possible after they'd lost Gordon Hayward in free agency to the Boston Celtics.

The expectancy was that the Jazz would have to go into a rebuilding phase and accept missing out on the postseason after losing their leading scorer and All-Star.

But thanks to some shrewd business, Utah managed to acquire the number 13 pick in last year's draft in a trade with the Denver Nuggets and that selection defined their season.

They chose Donovan Mitchell and he turned out to be arguably the best player in his draft class.

The youngster out of Louisville enjoyed a truly remarkable campaign and ended it as the team's leading scorer and number one offensive option.

He took the league by storm in his first year as he averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds in the regular season.

Mitchell also took this form into the playoffs as he was unfazed by being on the NBA's biggest stage and going up against the best players.

The 21-year-old played a major role in eliminating the star-studded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round before the Jazz were eliminated in the second round by the Houston Rockets.

Utah Jazz  v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two

In 11 postseason games, he put up 24.4 points, 5.9 boards and 4.2 dimes per game.

The shooting guard is deservedly a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year and was recently named as a finalist alongside Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum.

It's fair to say that nobody saw this coming from Mitchell and he believes this surprise element should win him the award.

“What I have done this season is a little different than most people,” Mitchell told EuroHoops when asked why he should be the Rookie of the Year.

“And the biggest thing that helps me is that no one expected it, I didn’t expect it. So the element of “surprise” will be on my side.”

He's already an outstanding talent and is slowly becoming the face of the Utah franchise after just one season.

Mitchell is one of the most exciting players to come out of the draft in the last decade and was also the winner of the Slam Dunk Contest this year.

The fans in Salt Lake City have quickly forgotten about Hayward as they have a new star in town and it gives the Jazz a sensational player to build around for the future.

CLICK HERE to listen to Episode Two of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring New York Times senior writer Marc Stein. Subscribe for all future episodes.

Donovan Mitchell
Rudy Gobert
Ricky Rubio
Northwest Division
Utah Jazz
Western Conference

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