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
Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /

1. Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden

So far, we’ve mostly weighed points per game, TS%, DBPM, Defensive Rating and VORP in ranking the NBA’s elite shooting guards in relation to the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell. Here, we’re going to bend the rules a little bit.

It seems fitting: James Harden has been bending the rules of basketball for a long time.

The 24.6 points per game that the Bearded One averaged last season are, shockingly, less than any player listed in this article. It doesn’t really matter, because the 10.6 assists per game he averaged paced the entire Association, and categorically destroyed any other shooting guard’s marked who is listed here.

We know Harden can score as well as anybody in NBA history. The 34.3 and 36.1 points he scored per game in his previous two seasons for the Houston Rockets typify the cliche of “video game numbers”. This season, Harden adjusted his game to fit with his considerably starrier teammates in Brooklyn.

Those who wish to quarrel over positional designations are free to do so. Indeed, one can easily make the case that Harden was Brooklyn’s point guard last season: even if his own backcourt mate would say so.

Too bad. Basketball reference still lists Harden as a shooting guard, and anyway, positions are distinctly more malleable in the modern NBA. If leading the NBA in assists requires Harden to be listed as a point guard, are we ready to look at Steph Curry, the NBA’s reigning scoring champion, as a shooting guard?

Next. Ranking every Jazz acquisition this offseason. dark

If you are, congratulate yourself for being an open-minded individual. In the meantime, we’ll be maintaining that James Harden still qualifies as the NBA’s supreme shooting guard, regardless of how often he may choose to pass.