We May Have Been Too Quick to Consider Donovan Mitchell a Star Player
We may have jumped the (young) gun.
Donovan Mitchell burst onto the scene in 2017-18 and was quickly heralded as the steal of the NBA Draft and one of the brightest young talents in the league. Rightfully so, as Mitchell’s rookie year was phenomenal.
This year however, he has not shown any signs of improvement, and in fact has looked worse than he did last season. Mitchell’s numbers, at first glance, look almost identical to that of his rookie season. He’s averaging 20.2 points, 3.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, all of which are right around where he was last season.
It’s his efficiency that has suffered, however.
Donovan Mitchell struggling has put Jazz brass in a tough spot. His sophomore slump — he’s at just 29% from 3 in a league about the 3 — is making it so they can give up other assets. (His FG% is also just 40.6, and he’s committing 2.7 TOs per game.)#UtahJazz #share2steem #NBA
— Rhett Wilkinson (@rhettrites) December 22, 2018
Mitchell is shooting just 29.7 percent from deep this year, taking 6.6 threes per game. He’s shooting 40.7 percent from the field and is taking 18.4 field goal attempts per game. His volume has increased, while the results have stayed the same.
His PER is right around league average at 13.8. To put that in context, Mitchell is about as efficient as players such as Fred VanVleet, D.J. Augustin, Shabazz Napier and Dewayne Dedmon. Those are guys have never been, and likely will never be, considered star players.
Mitchell is certainly an elite talent, but he needs to work on his efficiency if he wants to avoid becoming an Andrew Wiggins 2.0. Wiggins has a 12.2 PER, despite boasting some of the best raw talent in the league.
Utah scores 1.4 more points per 100 possessions when Donovan Mitchell is not on the floor.
He’s taking 18.4 shots per game. Among the 364 individual seasons in the 3P era with 500+ MIN and 18.4+ FGA/gm, Mitchell’s .499 TS% ranks 331st.
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) December 26, 2018
While PER isn’t a stat that benefits pure scorers, a mold which Mitchell is looking more likely to fill with each passing game, it’s still an accurate measurement of how efficient players are on the court.
He needs to improve his shot selection and start making more plays for his teammates if he wants to earn the status of a star player.
This article first appeared on 12up.