Young guards Devin Booker and Donovan Mitchell are two of the best young players in the NBA. Both have established themselves as legit offensive superstars in the league. This season, Mitchell and Booker averaged 25+ points per game while leading their teams as the first and second seed in the West respectively.
Donovan Mitchell vs Devin Booker comparison
Booker and Mitchell share some similarities to their game. In fact, it’s very close. Both are combo guards and are high volume scorers. They are the face of their respective franchises at a young age.
When it comes to choosing who is the best all-around player, it’s hard to determine without looking closely. You have to look at their offensive and defensive impact on their teams, as well as some intangibles that statistics don’t show.
Let’s take a closer look at the Mitchell vs Booker comparison…
Booker and Mitchell are born to score the ball. They can score whenever and wherever they want. Both are clearly the No. 1 option offensively and have high usage rates in their respective teams. Being the best player on their teams means they bring major impact.
As you can see from their 2020-2021 regular season stats above, they’re almost identical. You can’t expect less for two of the best young players in the NBA.
Devin Booker is an offensive juggernaut capable of doing damage wherever he is on the court. His Kobe-esque moves are deadly as a 6’6 guard. To top it off, he’s doing this all on high efficiency.
Also, Booker is a more capable playmaker than Mitchell even though his assists numbers are down this year. As a combo guard, he was averaging 6.6 assists per game for the past 2 years. Now, it’s down to 4.3 per game. The arrival of Chris Paul took the playmaking duties off Booker’s shoulders. He is now focused on what he does best—to score the ball.
He is an important part of the Suns’ success in the regular season—ranking sixth overall in usage rate at 32.6.
Meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell is an electrifying player. The 6’3 guard has vastly improved each year especially his offensive efficiency. His athleticism and elite scoring prowess are reminiscent of Dwyane Wade.
Also, Mitchell ranks 11th in the league for fourth quarter points—ahead of the likes of LeBron James and Luka Doncic. This means that he’s capable of taking things into his own hands where it matters the most. The fact that he is doing all of this while playing in a team-oriented offense is insane.
Mitchell is simply the best player in the league’s best team—ranking fourth in usage rate at 33.5 percent.
Booker is much more efficient as a scorer in shooting the ball inside the three-point line (54%). That’s well documented as he likes to pull up in midrange, punish smaller defenders in the post, and finish around the rim. He’s also much more efficient shooting it in the charity stripe (87%) than Mitchell.
Meanwhile, Mitchell is much more efficient shooting the three ball (39%) albeit taking more shots outside (8.7 attempts) than Booker. He has vastly improved his efficiency and shot selection this season compared before. Also, he takes care of the ball well (2.8 turnovers) compared to Booker (3.1).
The Suns have an offensive rating of 120.5 when Booker is on the court. It falls to 112.8 when he’s off the court. Meanwhile, the Jazz has an offensive rating of 118.8 when Mitchell plays. It slightly dips to 116.9 when he’s off the court.
Looking at the numbers, Booker is much more valuable offensively than Mitchell. Even with the arrival of Paul, the Suns’ offense is far better off when Booker is playing.
Meanwhile, Mitchell has a better supporting cast when he’s not playing. The Jazz has a lot of scoring options at the guard spot in Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, and Mike Conley. When he’s not playing, their offense just slightly dips but is still good.
Defense is what separates good basketball players from great basketball players. Even though Booker and Mitchell are scoring machines, it doesn’t make them exempt from playing defense.
Let’s now take a look at the Mitchell vs Booker comparison when it comes to defense…
Based on matchup
Against Devin Booker (46.1%)
- Guards: 162/387 (41.9%)
- Forwards: 133/266 (49.2%)
- Centers: 26/39 (66.7%)
Against Donovan Mitchell (47.8%)
- Guards: 124/288 (43.1%)
- Forwards: 65/115 (56.5%)
- Centers: 17/28 (60.7%)
As you can see, Booker is the better one-on-one defender than Mitchell. That’s actually surprising given the presumption that Booker is a bad defender. Well, not anymore. It turns out that he can hold his ground in certain matchups.
Based on distance
Against Devin Booker (45.7%)
- 3 pointers: 36.9%
- 2 pointers: 52.8%
- Less than 6ft: 62.0%
- Less than 10 ft: 58.2%
- Greater than 15 ft: 37.6%
Against Donovan Mitchell (45.4%)
- 3 pointers: 37.0 %
- 2 pointers: 51.9%
- Less than 6ft: 61.5%
- Less than 10 ft: 56.7%
- Greater than 15 ft: 37.7%
As you can see, Mitchell wins by a small margin but it’s very close.
According to PBP stats, the Jazz’s defensive rating is 110.89 when Mitchell is on the court. It falls to 103.45 when he is not on the floor. Meanwhile, the Suns’ defensive rating is 113.66 when Booker is playing and dips to 109.21 when not playing.
As you can see, Mitchell is more valuable defensively than Booker. It passes the eye test too as his energy and hustle are well-documented in games.
Clearly, the winner of defense would be Mitchell. However, this doesn’t make Booker a bad defender as people might think. The old narrative that Book can’t play defense should be thrown away.
Still, both of them are far from being lockdown defenders. Will they become one in the future? Most likely no. What’s important is they give effort in defense. After all, their teams already brought elite defensive players around them.
Now, let’s put statistics aside.
Let’s start with Booker… He is one of the most underappreciated players in the NBA. He has been snubbed a lot in All-Star and All-NBA selections despite putting up elite scoring numbers and efficiency at a consistent level. Clearly, Booker is one of the best young players in the NBA.
In addition, Booker played in a struggling Suns team for the most part of his career. Yet he didn’t complain. He trusted the Suns organization to build a better team around him. The result is they landed Chris Paul and are now a legit championship contender.
Lastly, his game reminds us of a certain legend. His play is reminiscent of Kobe Bryant especially the way he scores. In his sophomore year, he dropped a career-high 70 points against the Celtics. He is the youngest player to score 70 points and the first 70-point game since Kobe scored 81 against the Raptors in 2006. Kobe noticed Book’s game and reminded him to “Be Legendary”.
Meanwhile, Mitchell has been underappreciated also since his rookie year. He continues to defy odds and constantly improves his game each year. He showed us that he is more than just a pure scorer.
In addition, Mitchell made the playoffs every time since his rookie year. And he’s been a legit performer in the postseason. He is not afraid to take over and lead his team in clutch situations. Last year, he almost broke Michael Jordan‘s 63-point playoff performance with his own 57 points against the Nuggets. This cemented him as one of the best young players in the NBA.
Mitchell vs Booker: Verdict
Now for the Mitchell vs Booker comparison, who’s the better all-around player?
Look, I am a big fan of Devin Booker but I have to go with Donovan Mitchell. It’s very close actually that the decision could’ve gone either way.
Offensively, they are almost the same. But compared to Booker, Mitchell has better defense and more reliable in clutch situations, and already showed up big time in the playoffs.
What remains to be seen is Booker’s performance in the playoffs. If Booker reaches the NBA Finals or wins a championship in his first playoff appearance, then that would instantly overtake Mitchell by a mile. We’ll see for sure in a couple of weeks. But until then, the better all-around player now is Spida.
Both are still scratching the surface of their peak. You can’t find young players of the same caliber while leading their teams at the top. Now is clearly the time to give credit to the two of the best young players in the NBA.