Facebook Twitter

Donovan Mitchell or Ben Simmons? It’s not that simple

The Deseret News’ new Utah Jazz beat writer Sarah Todd, who spent the last two years covering the 76ers, explains why

SHARE Donovan Mitchell or Ben Simmons? It’s not that simple

Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, left, goes up to shoot as Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons, center, and Joel Embiid look on during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in Philadelphia.

Matt Slocum, AP

In 2014, while covering the Golden State Warriors, who were in a playoff battle with the Los Angeles Clippers, I was deeply entrenched in a battle of my own against Marc Spears (at the time with Yahoo Sports, now with ESPN).

The “who wears better socks” war was intensifying as the days passed and I was desperate for a win. Already behind in the standings, I knew that I needed to pull out the big guns.

On May 2, hours before the Warriors lost Game 7, I triumphed in the media room in the depths of the Staples Center when I revealed my John Stockton and Karl Malone Utah Jazz socks. Needless to say, I crushed the competition. Who knew that the taste of sweet victory that day would foreshadow my eventual move to the Beehive State? 


Sarah Todd poses for a photo at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Jazz Nation, if there is one thing that is absolutely certain in my life it is that I love basketball.

Even saying it like that feels like an understatement. I am a certified hoops junkie, which makes my move to Salt Lake City even more exciting. 

I know how passionate you are about your team and my biggest goal is to serve you well by bringing you insight and information about the Jazz that you can’t get anywhere else.

I grew up playing basketball. My passion and love for the game was solidified when I played high school ball in Paradise, California, a town now famous for being ravaged by the Camp Fire in 2018. 

It was always my dream to cover an NBA team and I have been fortunate enough to achieve my dreams and to now continue them just an 11-hour drive from my family. I covered the Warriors, before they were good, and through their 2015 championship run and I spent the last two years in Philadelphia covering the 76ers.

I know what you’re thinking. I have already been approached by many of you with a question that I absolutely expected. 

Did Ben Simmons deserve Rookie of the Year over Donovan Mitchell?

The simple answer is that I don’t know.

It’s probably not the answer that you want, but let me explain.

First of all, I did not vote for Simmons, I did not want a vote, and I won’t be voting on any such balloted NBA awards as the Jazz writer.

The way I see it, I am supposed to be an expert on everything Jazz and Jazz-adjacent. That means that I will not be able to be an expert on every other player in the NBA. As such, when I was in Philly, my knowledge base was saturated by 82 games of Simmons, very few of the Jazz and Mitchell, and I felt Simmons was deserving. But, there was no way for me to weigh that objectively.

Had I been in Utah, I would have had very little insight into Simmons’ game and would have most likely believed that Mitchell deserved the award.

Also, these players get huge monetary bonuses for getting these awards or for making All-NBA teams and I don’t think I should be a part of that decision-making process considering I don’t have all the information.

I realize you’d rather I say that Mitchell was the clear winner and that he was snubbed, I totally get it. But, hopefully you can appreciate that I want to be as unbiased and objective as possible. If that’s not enough, I aim to win you over with my work.

I really want this to be a collaborative relationship, so please feel free to email me, tweet at me, and talk to me when you see me out and about. It is my job to understand the things that are important to you and the things that you want to read as Jazz fans.

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind as I packed up my life and moved to Utah, but it hasn’t kept me from trying to catch up on the Jazz happenings. I’ve taken it upon myself to go back and watch every Jazz game from this season. I’ll soon be done and I’ll come back to you with some of my thoughts and observations from along the way, so stay tuned.

I really hope to make Salt Lake City my home and be here for a long time. It will take me awhile to get used to my surroundings and to learn all the intricacies and nuances of the city, the Jazz, and all of you, the incredible fan base. I hope you’ll be patient with me during the learning process and that I live up to the great writers that have come before me.

Let’s get this show on the road!