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
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /

4. Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker

Ranking Mitchell and Booker is effectively an exercise in futility. These are two of the league’s brightest young stars, and any given observer’s ranking may come down to personal preference.

On offense, Mitchell’s 26.4 points per game for the Utah Jazz over 2020-21 best Booker’s 25.6. However, Booker’s 58.7 TS% exceeds Mitchell’s mark of 56.9. While Mitchell was considerably more effective as a long-range bomber (38.6% accuracy on 8.7 attempts per game vs Booker’s 34.0% on 8.1), Booker’s higher two-point field goal % contributed to his overall superior TS%, as he shot 54.3% on two-point attempts compared to Mitchell’s 47.6%. Likely, this points to Booker’s superior development as a three-level scorer, as he’s developed into the rare modern NBA scorer who effectively weaponizes the midrange jumper.

Scoring doesn’t reflect a significant advantage for either player, as Mitchell generated more volume and Booker scored more efficiently. Therefore, Mitchell’s advantage in defensive metrics stands as the primary reason to rank him ahead of Booker.  His -0.6 DBPM is significantly ahead of Booker’s -1.5, and his Defensive Rating of 110 also trumps Booker’s 114.

Furthermore, Mitchell’s VORP of 2.5 is substantially ahead of Booker’s mark of 1.1. Likely, this has to do with Mitchell’s defensive advantages. While neither is known as an elite stopper, Mitchell leverages his physical advantages of length and explosiveness to make a roughly neutral defensive impact for the Utah Jazz, while Booker’s grades out as a slight negative.

These two young men may represent the future of the shooting guard spot. As long as Mitchell makes a stronger defensive impact, he’s the better candidate to usher that future forward.