It’s time to let the cat out of the bag — unlike the internet might have you believe, Devin Booker and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell don’t hate each other.
While fans duke it out on Twitter, pitting the two against each other despite no real preexisting rivalry between the players, Mitchell and Booker have actually developed a friendship off the court. Though to be fair, Mitchell’s vague tweet during the Suns’ victory over Golden State on Sunday night made fans go crazy all over again.
“We all see the comparisons but he’s tough, he’s a close friend of mine so it’s pretty special every time we match up,” Mitchell told Bright Side of the Sun after Utah’s 114-97 win in Phoenix on Wednesday.
In particular, Mitchell was impressed that late in the game, Booker accepted the assignment of guarding Mitchell himself to try to mount a comeback against the Jazz.
“It’s pretty cool that he took the challenge of guarding me, that really set the tone of the matchup,” Mitchell noted. “He’s a tough player.”
As for the endless comparisons, just stop it. “I don’t really think it matters,” Mitchell said.
Both were taken 13th in the draft and intrigue viewers with combo guard skill sets that make it difficult to place a ceiling on either player. Rather than worry about those similarities, Mitchell said both players, in their second and fourth seasons respectively, know what matters most is earning a reputation for winning.
“The competitiveness within ourselves, that’s what really gets us going,” the Jazz star said. “The biggest thing for us is trying to find ways to help our teams win.”
The results of their first five head-to-head matches favor Mitchell and the Jazz considerably. After beating Utah in the fourth game of the regular season last year in a contest that saw then-rookie Mitchell play just 12 minutes, the Suns have lost the five subsequent matchups.
Booker has averaged 20.4 points in the games he’s played against Mitchell, while Utah’s cornerstone scored 22.7 points per game against Booker along with that 4-1 record against his buddy.
The ugliest Suns loss came when Mitchell scored 40 points on 18 shot attempts in a 32-point win over the Suns last February, but there’s no disrespect between competitors.
“Obviously, he’s in a different situation than I am as far as wins and losses go but he’s still going to compete every night, you see it against Golden State, that’s the player I really respect and I respect his game,” Mitchell said.
Clearly, Mitchell has more support around him and landed in a perfect situation to maximize his skill set and mentality, but watching these two go at it for years to come will be fascinating, even if the rivalry doesn’t extend to any animosity off the court.