The Philadelphia 76ers travel to take on the Utah Jazz in a matchup between two of the best teams in the NBA so far this season.
The headline in this battle gives us flashbacks to two seasons ago when star guards Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell both burst onto the NBA scene, making a major impact in their rookie season.
Simmons edged Mitchell for the 2018 Rookie of the Year award but the two budding superstars have both continued to excel in this league, leading their teams to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
So ahead of their fifth head-to-head matchup, our NBA.com staff breaks down which promising young guard they'd rather have right now:
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): If you asked me this question two weeks ago, I'd have said, Ben Simmons. After he drained the 3-pointer heard 'round the world during the preseason, I truly thought this year would be different.
So far, it hasn't been. And until that changes, I'm rolling with Donovan Mitchell.
At some point much further down the line, perhaps in May or June, there's going to be stretches where taking over games as a primary ball-handler means being able to hit shots off the bounce. Early on, it appears that Simmons isn't yet comfortable doing that. Here are all three of his shots taken outside of 10 feet so far this season:
Contrast that with Mitchell who has serious chops as a closer and thus far ranks among the top clutch-time scorers in the NBA.
Is Simmons the better passer? Undoubtedly, yes.
Is Simmons the better rebounder? Of course.
Is Simmons the better defender? Absolutely.
But when it matters the most, the ability to confidently knock down shots in the highest leverage situations matters more than perhaps anything else. It's admittedly a narrow focus and perhaps not even fair. But for players of this calibre, the ones that have an ability to soar beyond the limits of 99.9% of their basketball brethren, that's ultimately how they're judged. Until Simmons shows he can do that, there's a ceiling that's simply lower than Mitchell's.
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): There really is no wrong answer in this debate but having to pick a side, I'm going with Ben Simmons.
Donovan Mitchell is fantastic - he's finally finding his efficiency and I think he has what it takes to get his first All-Star nod this season on a great Jazz team. But Simmons brings more to the table in more facets of the game.
Mitchell is a better pure scorer, but Simmons can still score the rock - he's averaging nearly 17 points per game without a reliable jump shot. He's a force in transition and a terror for opposing defences when he gets going downhill toward the rim. He can still score well enough that it's not a major area of concern in his game.
He's also a better playmaker, rebounder and defender than Mitchell.
Simmons is a great passer - he's finished fifth and sixth in the NBA in assists per game in his two seasons in the league and he's already off to a great start again this season posting 8.0 assists per game. He's also made huge strides defensively and prides himself on it, gunning to win Defensive Player of the Year. Simmons can guard just about any position on the floor and he does so successfully, giving him an edge over Mitchell in that aspect as well.
Mitchell is great, don't get me wrong. I'm just going to go with Simmons because he's more versatile on defence and a better playmaker on offence while still adding a threat to score the ball.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): It's close, like really close, but give me Donovan Mitchell.
Kyle honestly hit the nail on the head - there isn't a wrong answer here as Mitchell and Ben Simmons are both just 23 and are two of the league's brightest young superstars, but there's an element of positive unpredictability that led me to go with Mitchell here.
With Simmons, you pretty much know what you're going to get on a nightly basis; don't get me wrong, it's pretty impressive to be able to pencil in a 6-foot-10 point guard for 16-8-8 every game but it sometimes leaves more to be desired.
It's still early on, but Mitchell looks to be continuing his trend of upping his production on a year-to-year basis. Through his first seven games, Mitchell is averaging nearly 26 points per game and showing levels of efficiency we haven't really seen yet in his career. It's only Year 3 and he's showing just how and why he is an elite scorer, which is where that positive unpredictability comes in.
Everyone has big games where they get in that zone and it seems like no one or nothing can stop them - this reigns true for both Mitchell and Simmons.
Where I ultimately give Mitchell the edge is that I believe his zone as an elite scorer is much more threatening than the zone Simmons can get in as an elite defender and playmaker. Less than 200 games into his career, we've seen Mitchell score 40 or more points on four separate occasions… it's only a matter of time where he'll explode for 50.
Give me the guy that I know can shoulder the scoring load when the team needs it the most. It may seem simple, but sometimes all you need to get over the hump in a game is a bucket… or two.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): I'm taking Ben Simmons even without the three-point shooting. Look let's face it, I don't care how many offseason videos of him draining triple in a pick-up game surface - let's all come to terms with the fact that Simmons will never be a three-point shooter. Once we get over that fact we can look at the complete package that Simmons gives you.
Simmons may be an All-NBA defender, with the ability to guard every position on the court. He's a great playmaker, the reason why Brett Brown turned the 6'9' Aussie into a point guard in the first place and even without a jump shot he's still averaging 15.0 points per game. That's enough scoring to keep defences honest IF he's put in the right positions on the floor.
I get it, in the playoffs, there are ways to take him out of the game offensively, but it's not like he's a complete zero when he's out there. He still defends well, rebounds and can create for others. All those things are still valuable and that's what makes him special. Mitchell is a better scorer but that's it - Simmons is the better all-around player and I'll always feel like I can win with the better all-around player.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.