Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell each led their teams in scoring on Christmas Day, but it was Mitchell’s Jazz that pulled out the win thanks to a supporting cast that stepped up. Prior to that game, Dan Devine of The Ringer looked at Lillard and Mitchell, two underdog players coming out of college, and ultimately went on to decide which of the two he’d rather build a team around.
First, the similarities are hard to ignore between the two on the court:
Both quickly emerged as legitimate backcourt scorers on teams built around all-star-caliber big men (Lillard with LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland, Mitchell with Rudy Gobert in Utah). Lillard hit a series-winning, buzzer-beating 3 in his first-ever playoff series; Mitchell became a breakout star by pushing the Jazz past the Thunder in his postseason debut. Neither wasted any time in establishing himself as a foundational piece for his team’s future. But which one’s the best bet to build around now?
While Mitchell’s youth (he’s only 22 versus Lillard at 28), size and defense are big pluses, his 3-point shooting consistency isn’t something to bet on, so Devine sides with Lillard in this case of Would You Rather?:
I think Lillard’s a good bet to age gracefully. That helps mitigate the six-year age difference, and makes me feel more confident in choosing him over Utah’s exciting youngster as the cornerstone of my backcourt.
Devine’s full analysis of the two players as franchise cornerstones is worth reading, which you can do so here.