Utah Jazz: Buying or selling 3 more players’ rankings in ESPN top 100

Utah Jazz (Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell ESPN top 100 ranking: 18

Rising Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell ranked 18th on ESPN’s list. At the age of 25, Mitchell certainly has room to improve and increase his stock in next offseason’s version of the list. In the meantime, we can only look at whether he’s fairly placed this season.

One spot ahead of Mitchell we find another young, star guard in the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young. The two metrics we’ve used in these rankings seem to validate Young’s placement ahead of Mitchell, as both his PER of 23.0 and VORP of 3.0 exceed Mitchell’s marks of 21.3 and 2.5.

The temptation to scramble for a reason to dispute this ranking is overwhelming, but there is little evidence to suggest Mitchell was wronged in this instant. Neither player has a tremendous reputation as a defender. Mitchell’s mediocre Defensive Rating of 110 may outrank Young’s pedestrian 116 mark, but given that neither player graded out as a difference maker on that end of the floor, it’s hard to award Mitchell many marks for that accomplishment.

Meanwhile, both players are the focal points of their team’s offenses, but Young’s ability to make plays for his teammates (9.4 assists per game last season) separates him from Mitchell, given that Young is also an elite bucket-getter. ESPN will get no debate for their placement of Young ahead of Mitchell.

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Veteran Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler ranked two spots ahead of Mitchell at 16th. It’s even more difficult to debate that decision. His 26.5 PER and 4.2 VORP from 2020-21 are both several paces ahead of either Mitchell or Young, and in contrast to the two young guards, he’s an elite defender to boot.

In other words, it seems as if Mitchell’s 18th overall ranking by ESPN is pretty fair. Any Utah Jazz fans who disagree are left to hope that Spida vindicates their belief throughout the 2021-22 season.