Donovan Mitchell says he should’ve made All-NBA First Team: ‘I don’t know what the standard is’

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David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Mitchell said everything he and the Cleveland Cavaliers accomplished this season should have been enough to get him All-NBA First Team honors. He also said he’ll use the snub as motivation next season.

Mitchell was named a guard on the second team, with Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder the guards on the first team.

When the teams were announced, Mitchell tweeted his reaction to being left off, and he expanded on that in an interview with Ros Gold-Onwude.

“I just felt I should have been First Team,” Mitchell said. “So that’s one of my goals for next year is to be First Team. And I felt like I was good enough. But obviously the media members did not.”

Mitchell had an outstanding season for Cleveland after being traded by the Utah Jazz prior to the regular season. He averaged a career-high 28.3 points per game with 4.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Cleveland won 51 games, a seven-win improvement from last season, and made the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander both averaged more points, rebounds and assists than Mitchell during the regular season, but their teams did not make the playoffs. Oklahoma City was knocked out in the play-in round, and Dallas infamously tanked its closing games to protect a top-10 draft pick.

The Cavaliers were eliminated in the first round by the New York Knicks in five games.

Mitchell was asked if he thinks statistics or making the playoffs should matter in regards to the All-NBA teams.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, I thought that was the case, but obviously it was not. But like I said, Ros, I feel I should have made it. Who comes off? I don’t really care who it is as long as I’m on First Team in my head, but it didn’t happen. All-NBA and All-Star and all those selections and MVP and all those different things, I feel like it gets moved every year. I don’t know what the standard is. I’m not going to sit here and cry about it, sulk about it. I have my moment where I said what I said, and now I gotta go out there and just prove it.”

Mitchell received 349 voting points from the panel of 100 reporters and broadcasters. Gilgeous-Alexander got 407 points, and Doncic got 403 points.

Mitchell was sixth in the NBA MVP voting while Doncic was eighth. Gilgeous-Alexander finished in fifth.

Mitchell was not named to an All-NBA team during his first five seasons in the NBA with the Jazz. He was acquired by Cleveland in a deal that sent Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji and lots of draft compensation to Utah.

Markkanen received the most points (49) of forwards who did not make an All-NBA team this season.

Center Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics also made the first team.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.