NBA

Donovan Mitchell signs max extension with Jazz - report

By Sports Desk November 22, 2020

Donovan Mitchell has agreed to a five-year max extension potentially worth $195million with the Utah Jazz, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The All-Star guard has become a key component for the Jazz since the franchise moved up to draft him with the 13th pick in 2017.

Mitchell was named the NBA's Rookie of the Year following a spectacular debut season that saw him lead the team in scoring as they reached the playoffs.

The 24-year-old helped oust the Oklahoma City Thunder before losing in five games to the Houston Rockets. While Utah has made the postseason in the two years since then, they have failed to make it beyond the first round.

Still, Mitchell averaged a career-high 24 points and 4.3 assists in a 2019-20 campaign that saw him earn his first All-Star appearance for the Western Conference.

The season was completed in the NBA's Orlando bubble due to the coronavirus pandemic, Utah going down 4-3 to the Denver Nuggets at the end of an epic series, during which Mitchell averaged 36.3 points.

His new deal is the designated rookie max extension and follows on from De'Aaron Fox, a fellow first-round pick in 2017, agreeing a five-year deal worth $163m to keep him with the Sacramento Kings.

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  • Bielsa nominated for The Best FIFA Coach: But does Leeds' Premier League start warrant it? Bielsa nominated for The Best FIFA Coach: But does Leeds' Premier League start warrant it?

    Marcelo Bielsa has been nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Coach award after an impressive year saw him become further adored by Leeds United supporters.

    The former Argentina coach guided Leeds back to the Premier League last season after 16 years outside the top flight, racking up 93 points in a superb Championship season.

    Bielsa, 65, has since overseen a solid start to the new campaign in the Premier League, securing draws against Manchester City and Arsenal as Leeds sit 14th in the table.

    But while results in 2020 have been impressive, does Bielsa really warrant inclusion on a five-man FIFA shortlist that also includes Champions League winner Hansi Flick, Premier League champion Jurgen Klopp, LaLiga winner Zinedine Zidane and Europa League victor Julen Lopetegui?

    We have looked at some of the best Opta statistics behind Leeds' start to the 2020-21 campaign, comparing that to past Premier League years and what is happening elsewhere in Europe this year.

    LEEDS MAKE IMPRESSIVE START

    Leeds have had a good opening to the new season and their 11 points from nine games already puts them a healthy seven points clear of the relegation zone.

    Wins over Fulham, Sheffield United and Aston Villa mean they are well on track to achieve their survival objective, though heavy defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester City provided a reminder of the difficulty of top-flight life.

    Leeds' style of play has also led to a host of entertaining matches, their dramatic 4-3 defeat to champions Liverpool on the opening weekend setting the tone.

    Their 14 goals make Leeds the top scorers in the bottom half while only two teams have conceded more than the 17 they have leaked.

    With 130 total shots, Leeds are second only to Liverpool in that regard, while they are fourth when it comes to attempts on target (48), both incredibly impressive figures for a promoted side.

    They have completed 4,756 passes in their nine matches, which again sees them rank favourably.

    That number is good for sixth in the Premier League, behind the likes of Chelsea (5,814), Liverpool (5,683) and Manchester City (5,042) but above Tottenham (4,602) and Manchester United (4,463).

    Leeds' average possession figure is a tremendous 60.46 per cent, highlighting the control they have had in most of their matches. Only Pep Guardiola's City (62.57) sit above them in that metric.

    Those displays have come even while negotiating a particularly tough start to the season - Leeds have already faced five of the teams who finished in the top eight of the Premier League last season.

    BUT POINTS RETURN IS NOTHING SPECIAL

    However, the case against Bielsa's nomination would be that when it comes to Leeds' overall record, while 11 points is a decent return, it is certainly nothing special.

    Prior to this season, 34 promoted teams had earned 11 or more points inside their first nine top-flight matches.

    Some of those have far exceeded that total. Nottingham Forest had 21 points from their first nine games in 1994-95 and went on to finish in third place.

    Hull City stunned the league with 20 points in nine matches in 2008, while Wigan Athletic had recorded 19 by this stage in 2005.

    There are more recent examples too, as Sheffield United (12) - who went on to finish ninth - and Aston Villa (11) both had similar returns after nine games last season.

    Looking specifically at 2020, Bielsa is not the only coach of a promoted team in Europe's major leagues to have captured the headlines this season.

    Cadiz are fifth in LaLiga with 14 points from 10 matches after a magnificent start that has seen them earn famous away wins over Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao.

    One of the other promoted teams in Spain, Elche - who recently beat Valencia - are poised to overtake Cadiz having racked up 12 points from eight games to start the campaign.

    In France, Lens have 17 points from nine games and are seven points off the top of Ligue 1 with two games in hand. They have already defeated leaders and champions Paris Saint-Germain.

    Stuttgart, meanwhile, are eighth in the Bundesliga and reached the 11-point mark one game quicker than Leeds did in England's top flight.

    While a Bielsa nomination has its merits, the data suggests there were also other potential candidates this year and in seasons past who, having lacked his global profile, can feel hard done by to miss out.

  • Lyon dominate FIFA nominations after five straight Champions League triumphs Lyon dominate FIFA nominations after five straight Champions League triumphs

    Six members of Lyon's Champions League-winning team, plus their coach, have been nominated for The Best FIFA Football Awards for 2020.

    Lyon won a fifth consecutive European crown in August, beating Wolfsburg in the final, and they are unsurprisingly set to be at the forefront of FIFA's end-of-year awards ceremony.

    Of the 11 players on the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women's Player, five played for Lyon last season.

    Lucy Bronze - third in this category last year and second in the 2019 Ballon d'Or Feminin - has since moved on to Manchester City but makes the cut alongside a host of former team-mates.

    Dzsenifer Marozsan was second in 2018, the same year she finished third for the Ballon d'Or, and will now compete against Delphine Cascarino, Saki Kumagai and Wendie Renard.

    Chelsea have three contenders in Pernille Harder (signed from Wolfsburg), Ji So-yun and Sam Kerr, while Caroline Graham Hansen and Jennifer Hermoso represent Barcelona. Viviane Miedema is in for Arsenal.

    Such is the depth of Lyon's squad that Ada Hegerberg - the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner, then third behind Marozsan in the FIFA voting - is not in the running this year having been out since January with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

    Although Lyon have continued to win regardless, their four-year, 80-game unbeaten Division 1 Feminine streak was ended by Paris Saint-Germain last week.

    Sarah Bouhaddi, who conceded the only goal in that game, is up for The Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper as the sixth Lyon player honoured.

    She is up against Ann-Katrin Berger, Christiane Endler, Hedvig Lindahl, Alyssa Naeher and Ellie Roebuck.

    The French giants' Jean-Luc Vasseur is among seven nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Coach after a successful first season in charge at OL.

    Future England coach Sarina Wiegman, the 2017 award winner who finished second in the subsequent two years, is also in contention.

    Lluis Cortes, Rita Guarino, Emma Hayes, Stephan Lerch and Hege Riise are the others under consideration.

  • Lewandowski the leading contender for FIFA award but Haaland looks a future winner Lewandowski the leading contender for FIFA award but Haaland looks a future winner

    Robert Lewandowski is among the leading contenders for The Best FIFA Men's Player in 2020 after he was named among 11 nominees on Wednesday.

    The Bayern Munich superstar fired his side to the treble in 2019-20 and has continued his outstanding form at the start of the new season.

    With no Ballon d'Or this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA's award represents Lewandowski's best chance of recognition for a standout year.

    He has tough competition in the form of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and four Liverpool players, but the 32-year-old must surely be considered the frontrunner.

    Lewandowski's potential success in this category would be built on Bayern's Champions League triumph and Opta data in that competition since the start of last season helps make his case.

    LEADING THE WAY

    Virgil van Dijk ran Messi close in 2019, but this year's top honour surely belongs to an attacker - particularly with the Liverpool centre-back and Sergio Ramos playing just eight and seven games respectively over this span due to injury and suspension.

    Lewandowski is therefore the obvious choice. He has scored 17 goals in 13 games; for contrast, Messi has six goals and Ronaldo five.

    The Poland international has benefited from playing at the forefront of a brilliant team, however, and has had by far the most shots of any player in this time.

    His 63 attempts outperform Messi's second-placed 48 by 15. Ronaldo is third with 47, with the leading five shot-takers all nominated as Mohamed Salah (42) and Kylian Mbappe (41) are next on that list.

    But Lewandowski has made the most of these opportunities, hitting the target 36 times - another high.

    The striker's shot conversion rate of 27.0 per cent far outstrips Salah (14.3 per cent), Neymar (13.3 per cent), Sadio Mane (12.5 per cent), Messi (also 12.5 per cent), Mbappe (12.2 per cent) and Ronaldo (10.6 per cent).

    For balance, Ramos is the leading scorer among defenders in this period, netting three goals.

    MISSED THE CUT

    Although Thiago Alcantara, who has since departed for Liverpool, was included, it was perhaps slightly surprising to see only two members of Bayern's treble-winning team make the list.

    The players who created Lewandowski's opportunities went unrewarded.

    Joshua Kimmich has a joint-high seven assists and has created the most chances of any player with 38. Thomas Muller played 31 key passes.

    Similarly, at Paris Saint-Germain, where Neymar and Mbappe are considered, Angel Di Maria supplied six assists, 24 chances and 12 big chances.

    One admission who will surely make the cut in the years to come is Erling Haaland, widely considered the heir to Lewandowski's crown as the Bundesliga's leading marksman.

    The 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund man, who was named the 2020 Golden Boy, is the only player to come close to Lewandowski's level of productivity in the Champions League.

    Despite playing the first half of last season at Salzburg, who did not qualify from their group, Haaland has 16 goals in just 12 games.

    Serge Gnabry, another team-mate of Lewandowski's, is third for goals behind the pair but has a relatively modest nine.

    Of Haaland's 40 shots, 24 have hit the target - a tally beaten only by Lewandowski and matched by Messi (from eight more attempts). A shot conversion rate of 40 per cent is the best mark of any player with 40 or more shots.

    This might well be Lewandowski's year, but the future is not far away.

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