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
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) /

2. Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal

The NBA’s second-leading scorer at 31.3 points per game over the 2020-21 season, Beal might be the best pure shooting guard in the NBA today. In case the hat is not sufficiently tipped regarding who is ranking number one on this list, we’ll just mention that facial hair was not a variable considered here.

The baby-faced Beal was an assassin throughout the 2020-21 season. That robust points per game mark was buoyed by an elite 59.3 TS%. Beal gets buckets however you like them, with a pure shooting touch that allows him to sink three-pointers with a solid blend of volume and efficiency (34.9% accuracy on 6.2 attempts per game), as well as elite ball-handling that pairs well with a combination of speed and lower body strength that allows him to finish consistently at the rim.

Beal is also an established playmaker. The 4.4 assists per game he posted in 2020-21 actually represented a significant drop-off from the 6.1 per game he averaged in 2019-20. Sharing the backcourt with perennial triple-double machine Russell Westbrook tidily accounts for this discrepancy, but 4.4 is still a solid mark for a score-first off-guard.

If Mitchell holds any advantage over Bradley Beal, it’s on the defensive end. Beal’s DBPM of -1.7 and Defensive Rating of 115 both comfortably trail Mitchell’s marks. Nonetheless, Beal’s significantly better statistics in terms of both volume and efficiency of scoring tipped the scales in the player-to-player comparison here. It is not controversial to claim that offense is more important than defense, and when we’re discussing two lead-scoring guards, it holds doubly true.

Having said that, there is only one player who ranks ahead of Beal at the shooting guard position, and you may not be shocked to learn that it’s his offensive ability that allows him to do so.