Monday's slate features a battle of promising young guards between Donovan Mitchell and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Moreso than most meetings between young players, this feels more symbolic of a changing of the guard in the NBA given that both of them share a backcourt with vaunted members of the establishment with Mike Conley in Utah and Chris Paul in Oklahoma City.
It's certainly early but both Mitchell and Gilgeous-Alexander look the part of future All-Stars.
Mitchell tasted the postseason in each of his first two seasons and is now in the midst of averaging a career-high 24.6 points per game for a Utah team that entered the season with high aspirations. Depending on how the Jazz navigate the next month, there's a chance that Mitchell could be among the first-time All-Stars in Chicago later this season.
While Gilgeous-Alexander likely won't climb to those heights in 2020, there's no doubt that the Toronto native has serious high-ceiling potential. The centrepiece of the Paul George trade between the Clippers and Thunder, the 6'5" point guard is the rare 21-year-old that plays like he's been in the NBA for a decade.
Mitchell might be the better player today, but what about further on down the line? We asked several members of our global NBA.com staff to pick which one will be the better player three years from now.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): I gotta go with Donovan Mitchell.
Don't get me wrong, I love Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's game but based on what I've seen from Mitchell up to this point in his career, I can't help but think he's primed to make that superstar leap at some point in the next three years.
Considering the fact that Mitchell came into the league averaging over 20 points per game and has improved upon that average each year, I still see a timeline in which he could be a threat to lead the league in scoring. In three years' time, I can see Mitchell becoming a consistent threat to explode for 50 if he gets into the zone.
I mean, he's already got four 40-point games to his name in under 200 career games.
And that isn't to say I value scoring over everything else but I do believe that Mitchell's potential could allow him to be one of the league's best scorers within the next three years. While SGA does plenty of things at a very high level, I can't pinpoint what exactly he would be one of the league's best at in three years.
Mitchell has already exceeded expectations up to this point in his career, which leads me to believe that will continue to reign true over the next three years. I'm rolling with Spida.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): I'm taking Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
I really like Donovan Mitchell and he's already proven that he can be THE GUY in a playoff series. Outplaying Russell Westbrook and Paul George in a playoff series is no small feat for anyone, let alone as a rookie which Mitchell was in 2018.
But while Mitchell has the potential to be a high volume scorer with strong two-way play, I like SGA's potential as a more steady and complete player.
Though the assist numbers don't yet bear it out, Gilgeous-Alexander has tremendous vision to go along with a feel for the game that's rare for a player his age. Over time, he should develop into a killer pick-and-roll ball-handler and is in the perfect situation right now to learn from Chris Paul, one of the best to ever do it.
Mitchell might be the more explosive shot-maker off the bounce but Gilgeous-Alexander is relentless at attacking the paint, ranking in the top 10 in drives per game. He's four inches taller than Mitchell and even if he doesn't have the same bounce, that size allows him to not only finish comfortably in traffic but see more passing lanes as a creator for others.
I trust more in Gilgeous-Alexander's ability to elevate others around him particularly on nights where his own shot isn't falling. Mitchell might always have numbers that pop more than SGA, but when it comes to well-rounded excellence that fits in alongside almost any personnel and scheme, give me the 21-year-old Canadian.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): I'm rolling with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
I think Donovan Mitchell has a higher ceiling than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but I don't think we'll ever see Mitchell reach that ceiling.
I had high hopes for the leap that Mitchell was going to take this season with the talent he finally had around him in Utah and so far it's the same old Mitchell. Let's be clear the same old Mitchell is still a really talented player, but the Mitchell I had been hoping to see was one that was a bonafide surefire superstar. Mitchell might not even make the All-Star team this season.
With SGA, I know what I'm getting. I'm getting poise, I'm getting production and a potential low maintenance All-Star someday. He'll never be the go-to-guy or franchise player, but he'll be a key piece to any team he's on. SGA will always be a positive addition to any team he's on, I'll take that on my side any day of the week.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.