Utah Jazz: Ranking Donovan Mitchell among NBA’s top shooting guards

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

5. Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown

Even informed readers could be forgiven if they were anticipating a higher placement for Brown on the basis of superior two-way play. According to advanced metrics, they’d be wrong.

Brown’s 2020-21 DBPM trails Mitchell’s, -1.0 to -0.6. In case you’re concerned about the possibility of noise in that stat, his defensive rating also lags behind the Utah Jazz star, 113 to 110. According to the two most effective metric measurements of defensive impact, Donovan Mitchell was a better defender over the 2020-21 season than Brown.

Meanwhile, Brown took a major step forward on offense last season, but he still lags Mitchell by about the margin each’s reputation would suggest. Through 2020-21, Brown scored 24.7 points per game on a 58.6 TS%. Meanwhile, Mitchell contributed 26.4 points per game for the Utah Jazz on a 56.9 TS%.

While Brown’s efficiency was superior, it has to be noted that Brown was actually the second-leading scorer on the Boston Celtics, behind superstar wing Jayson Tatum’s 26.4 points per game. It is fair to assume that Brown was the recipient of less defensive attention and therefore, more wide-open looks than Mitchell, who is Utah’s first offensive option by a considerable margin.

This discrepancy in each player’s role is narrowly reflected by each’s VORP, as Mitchell’s 2.5 mark outpaces Brown’s 2.3 mark. More importantly, Mitchell is being awarded points here for being the centerpiece of the Utah Jazz offense. This is not a blemish on Brown’s career-to-date. The margins at the top are narrow, and had Brown’s reputation as a superior defender been reflected in his metrics, he’d have earned a placement ahead of Mitchell.

Still, the fifth-best shooting guard in the NBA is no designation to sneeze at, and it’s where Brown lands in these rankings.