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Donovan Mitchell is on his way to All-Star status

So far, so good for Donovan Mitchell’s third year jump

Brooklyn Nets v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

This summer we wondered how Donovan Mitchell’s third season would go. How would having Mike Conley help him out on offense? Would playing in the FIBA World Cup wear him out? How would he respond to that brutal Rockets playoff series? Was he going to make his ‘jump’ in his third year? There were a lot of questions. After just a few weeks into this 2019-20 season, it looks like we have all of our answers regarding Donovan Mitchell and his status as an NBA player right now; He’s an All-Star.

Mitchell is currently averaging 25 points per game, which doesn’t necessarily jump out on paper as a drastic improvement from last year when he averaged just under 24 per game. But it’s how he is getting these points, and quite literally all other facets of his game that have improved this season and put him on an All-Star level.

One of Mitchell’s weaknesses his first two seasons in the NBA, has now become one of his greatest strengths; efficiency. He’s currently shooting 48 percent from the field, and 41 percent from three, compared to 43/33 on average for his first two seasons. He’s getting to the free-throw line more, and has improved his free-throw rate from 21% and 25% his first two seasons, to 28% this year. Although he’s shooting a lower percentage from the free-throw line right now by just a bit, him getting to the line more is a great sign for his overall game and scoring efficiency. He’s improved in nearly every single advanced metric that you can track, including player efficiency rating, box plus-minus, win shares, VORP, you name it.

Donovan Mitchell Advanced Stats: Career

2017-18 16.7 0.541 0.404 0.218 2.3 10.4 6.4 19.4 2.2 0.9 12.6 29.1 1.4 3.8 5.2 0.095 1.3 -0.2 1.1 2.1
2018-19 17.2 0.537 0.339 0.259 2.5 10.5 6.6 21.2 2 0.9 11.3 31.6 1.3 3.7 5 0.092 0.8 -0.2 0.6 1.7
2019-20 23.2 0.571 0.228 0.284 4.3 11.7 8.2 23.5 2.1 0.2 9.7 31 0.9 0.7 1.6 0.203 3.9 1.5 5.4 0.7

Donovan Mitchell currently ranks 11th in NBA Math’s ‘Total Points Added’ rankings, which measures effictiveness in a combined figure of Offensive Points Added and Defensive Points Saved. Mitchell ranked 69th in TPA his rookie season, and 97th last year, so you can see he’s made some drastic improvements in this metric as well.

If you want to do a fun little exercise, head to Basketball Reference’s 2019-20 leaders page, and click ‘expand all leaderboards’. Once expanded, do a page search for ‘Donovan Mitchell’ and peruse through all of the stats that Donovan Mitchell is in the top 20 for so far this season. You’ll soon find that Mitchell is among the league’s best this season in a chunk of areas.

Looking at his shot charts over the years, you can visibly see the jump that Donovan Mitchell is experiencing this season. Watching him play in these games this season, you can just tell he’s more comfortable on the floor and getting the shots that he wants.

Most importantly, Donovan Mitchell has been big in close games this season. He’s been a huge reason why the Jazz are 5-2 in games decided by 5 points or less. After he helped the Jazz to a comeback win vs Brooklyn the other night, Mitchell found himself with the 3rd most clutch points scored in the league (clutch = score within 5, less than 5 minutes in game). He led the NBA in free-throws made and attempted in clutch minutes, and was also in the top five in assists and steals. When the game’s on the line, Spida is going to come through.

If you’re not so much into advanced stats, metrics or shot charts, you’re still gonna be into the All-Star plays that Donovan Mitchell is making so far this season. Dunks, blocks, clutch buckets, he’s literally done it all this season.

It didn’t take long for Mitchell to find a highlight reel dunk for the 2019-20 season. This was in the opening game against the Thunder, in true Spida fashion.

Come at the King, you best not miss. Donovan didn’t miss on this block attempt on LeBron James.

In what was one of the greatest travesties of all time, the refs robbed Donovan from 2 points on this incredible dunk. But don’t think that will stop us from glorifying this play and adding it to the reel. Ho. Ly. Crap.

Mitchell’s benefiting from enhanced space on the floor with shooters, and we are seeing some amazing passes like this one that actually lead to points.

Can you imagine all the cool dunks Donovan would do in the All-Star game?

We’re 11 games into the season, and it might be a little early to start naming locks for the All-Star game. But if Donovan Mitchell continues to play like he has during his opening stretch, and if the Jazz continue to win games and stay among the top in the Western Conference, you can go ahead and pencil Spida in. With the emergence of other young wings like Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, and Andrew Wiggins (seriously), Mitchell will have to stay on top of his game and continue to show out if he wants his first All-Star bid this season. Even with injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson which opens up some spots, talent in the conference is at an all-time high and being an All-Star is more difficult than ever. It’s hard to think that the Jazz could go another year being the only team in the playoffs without an All-Star, but you know, we’ve seen some crazy stuff before. All-Star selections aside, Donovan Mitchell is balling out his year, and it’s awesome to see. The Jazz are going to be tough to beat with him playing like this, and it’s going to be fun to see how high he can go.