Cavs' Donovan Mitchell Says NBA MVP Award Is 'Definitely' a Goal After 71-Point Game

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 3, 2023

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell celebrates a 145-134 overtime win against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
AP Photo/Ron Schwane

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell went on ESPN's NBA Today one day after his 71-point outing in a 145-134 overtime win against the Chicago Bulls and said that winning an NBA MVP is a goal at this juncture.

However, he also noted that individual accolades ring hollow if the team isn't winning and in playoff contention (54-second mark).

Mitchell made the remarks in response to a question from panelist Kendrick Perkins if winning an NBA MVP one of his individual goals right now.

"It definitely is, and 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.

"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?

"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.

"You know you look at, you name them, Jayson Tatum, Luka Dončić, like those guys, you know they've won.

"JT's made to the Finals, Luka'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 has averaged 29.3 points on 49.2 percent shooting in his sixth NBA season (first with the Cavs). The 24-14 Cavaliers sit fourth in the Eastern Conference just two-and-a-half games back of the first-place Boston Celtics.

The 26-year-old has authored numerous explosive performance this year. He's scored 41 or more points on four separate occasions and had a season-high 12 assists in a 38-point outing against the New York Knicks.

But Tuesday's game against the Bulls was one of the best individual single-game performance any NBA player has ever had. It was just the 10th time in NBA history that a player scored 71 or more points in a game. Wilt Chamberlain did so five times, and Kobe Bryant, David Robinson, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor did it once apiece.

Mitchell was incredibly efficient, shooting 22 of 34 and 7 of 15 from three-point range. He also made 20 of 25 free throws. Mitchell also added 11 assists and eight rebounds.

He caught fire in the second half (42 points) and overtime (13 more) for his 71 points.

Mitchell would have plenty of competition for the MVP award in the form of reigning back-to-back winner Nikola Jokic, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tatum, Dončić and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid, but it's clear the shooting guard is more focused on leading the Cavaliers to a championship rather than individual honors.

The Cavs, who are coming off two wins over the Bulls, will now host the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.