The NBA’s top 10 shooting guards
Having already compiled our current top ten PG list, let’s delve into the other half of the backcourt: The NBA’s top 10 shooting guards. Similar to almost every position in basketball, there isn’t a set style of play they are limited to. Some are lights out shooters, while others are slashers than can find their way to the hole against any type of D. Some shooting guards can be a scorers, others can be a lockdown defenders with the ability to score when needed.
Compared to the other positions, the SG could be one of the toughest to separate one player from the other. On the one hand, there are several players (who I will get to later) who are on another level compared to the rest, but from there, you could virtually toss a coin for many of these candidates.
This year in particular, there has been a change in guard (no pun intended) to who is on the list. There are a lot of new shooting guards who have the potential to be on this list for time to come. But to quote the rapper Wale, potential is just another word for someone who hasn’t done anything yet.
Here are the top 10 shooting guards in the league:
10. Marcus Thornton
Since joining Sacremento, Thornton has had a revival of sorts. As soon as he arrived, the undrafted guard has been a focal point in the Kings offense. While he’s one of the leading scorers for SG’s in the league, Thornton hasn’t shown that he can do much else yet with the bottom dwelling Sac-town.
9. Eric Gordon
The only reason Gordon is so low is the injury from this past season. Two years ago Gordon was averaging 22 points a game in just his third season in the NBA. His first six games with New Orleans last year looked like he was picking up right where he left off. Now he’s back with a more reloaded Hornets team, where he is sure to be a focal point in their offense. His strengths are all mostly on offense as he shoots great from the floor and can score in bunches. However, similar to Thornton, Gordon needs to show improvement in areas such as defense and passing to jump the rankings on this list.
8. Kevin Martin
I swear NBA 2K wants Martin to be the next superstar in the league. Every my player or franchise account I make, he is always top 3 in scoring in the league and a candidate for MVP. It’s true that his unorthodox shot has him one of the top scorer’s for SG’s in the league, Martin really doesn’t do much else. He averages only 2 assists and 3 boards a game. For someone who’s 6’7”, the rebounding statistic is definitely something of a concern. However, the simple fact that he can light up the score sheet and has done so for 7 seasons makes him a must for this list. This past season was the first one he hasn’t scored over 20 since the ’05-’06 season but he was out 26 games due to injury. The Rockets are going to be on the rise this year and if that’s the case Martin will be too.
7. Manu Ginobili
Yes, Ginobili had his worst season last year, scoring just under 13 points a game. Yes, he just turned 35. And yes, Ginobili still has something left in the tank. Hampered with injuries all last year, the lefty wasn’t really able to get in a groove. However, come playoff time we saw the Ginobili of old. Despite losing to the Thunder, he was the player to at least make things closer in the Conference Finals. Watching him in the Olympics you could see he was back to his old ways. Going back on his low scoring output this year, the Spurs had one of the best records in the league so they only needed to play 20 minutes a game while he came back from his injury. His stats per 36 minutes puts him at his normal career average for scoring. As the Spurs go into the season battling critics about their age again, Ginobili will prove why he’s still one of the best SG’s in the league.
6. Monta Ellis
Ellis could be one of the purest scorers on this list. Averaging a shade under 20 a game for his career, ever since he’s been in the league, to put it plainly, he gets buckets. And for the past five season he’s even averaged over 5 assists a game to complement his scoring barrage. The biggest knock against him is can he coexist with another scorer in the backcourt. It didn’t work out with Steph Curry in Golden State, but what about now in Milwaukee with Brandon Jennings. If the Bucks backcourt can work together than the sky’s the limit for Ellis, don’t forget he’s only 26!
5. Joe Johnson
Ever since Johnson signed that absurd contract a few summers ago, he hasn’t been the same. His scoring average has gone down and he just doesn’t look like the same player anymore. It appears the days of “Iso-Joe” are over. The team now belongs to Josh Smith. That was most evident during the playoffs last year, when they had a last second shot in Game 6 to win the game. Instead of demanding the ball, Johnson sat in the corner and let Smith, not known for his outside game, take the shot. It seems weird that the number 5 SG on the list is getting the most criticism. That’s because he was one of the top 3 two years ago and now he’s slipped a bit. All hating aside, Johnson will be in a new environment this year so look for him to have a resurgence and get back to his scoring ways.
4. Andre Iguodala
Iguodala is the only player on this list that doesn’t burn the net down on a nightly basis. That’s not to say he doesn’t have the ability to, but that’s not his role in the offense. The reason he’s so high on this list is the other intangibles he brings to the team. He can pass, he can rebound and most of all he can play defense. For those reasons he was selected to the USA team this year. His former coach Doug Collins spoke about him this past summer in London and said this past season was his best season so far. It was one of his lowest scoring averages in his career, but he was able to help lead the 76ers into the playoffs. And now as he joins the Nuggets he will do the same for them.
3. James Harden
Easily the SG to jump the most spots on anyone’s list since last year, Harden could be a starter and even the best player on a majority of the teams in the NBA. Instead he is a part of one of the scariest scoring threesomes the league has seen in a long time. When number 13 came in the game and KD and Westbrook came out, there was almost virtually no drop off and he was the main reason because of that. There’s not much the former Arizona State guard can’t do, he can beat you outside, driving to the basket and on the fast break. He’s the epitome of pick your poison. While he’s only played three years in the league and only averaged 17 points a game last year, on any other squad it’s almost a guarantee he’d be much higher. With another year under his belt, Harden will establish himself as a premier player in the league.
2. Dwyane Wade
Throughout Wade’s career he’s always been one of the top 3 SG’s in the league. There just aren’t many guards in the history of the NBA that can do what he does. Taking a backseat to LeBron, the Flash still has been able to carve up defenses while collecting another championship ring. However, it’s not only his scoring that separates him from the rest of the pack. Wade’s a great passer and a tremendous rebounder for his size. However, I’m not really saying anything we all don’t already know. Wade is now 30 and coming off knee surgery, yet he’s always been resilient throughout his career so look for him to continue to stay on the top of the list for at least a few more years.
1. Kobe Bryant
If this came as a surprise to anyone, well, you must be living under a rock. Although he’s considered to be on the downward slope in his career, Bryant is still one of the top scorers in the NBA, narrowly losing to Durant for the scoring title. With Dwight Howard and Steve Nash added to the team, the Lakers will surely be battling OKC for top spot in the West and Kobe will be at the helm. Yet, Bryant has said London was his last Olympics, meaning in the next few years we could see a new number 1 on this list. My guess is that won’t be until he takes off his uniform.