The shooting guard spot is one of the most versatile positions in the NBA. As the title states, you have to be able to shoot the ball. Nonetheless, that isn’t necessarily always the case. So without further ado, let’s look at some of the best at the position today:
10. DeMar Derozan
DeMar Derozan is probably the Toronto Raptors’ best player. Some may argue that Rudy Gay is the better of the two mainly based on reputation but statistically, they are having similar seasons.
Standing 6’7” tall, the fourth year USC product has steadily been producing on a bad team and he is the bright spark for the Raptors fans searching for something to be excited about.
He’s at his best when slashing to the basket and soaring through the sky for some spectacular dunks, bringing about flashbacks of the Vince Carter era.
The sky is literally the limit for this athletic swingman. However, he’ll have to greatly improve his 3-point shooting to further develop as he’s a career 22 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
9. Kevin Martin
Despite that awkward jumper, Kevin Martin has been one of the NBA’s more efficient scorers over the years with a career 44 percent shooting average from the field and a pretty good percentage from deep with 38 percent.
That’s on top of nearly 18 points a game during his time in the association, which is pretty impressive considering he amassed a measly average of 6.85 ppg over the first two seasons in the league.
He may be the fourth best player in Oklahoma City and his scoring down but he’s still a major contributor on a championship contender. Martin is shooting 42.5 percent from 3 plus, the transition to life after James Harden wouldn’t have been anywhere near as smooth without the Ohio native.
8. Klay Thompson
With that 6’7″ frame, Klay Thompson is your prototypical 2 guard as he has decent handles and court awareness, meaning he is able to create his own shot or at times, for others with the pass or simply his movement. After all, he does have that sweet, sweet jumper.
As the son of a former NBA player, you know Thompson’s dad, Mychal Thompson, drilled in the fundamentals of the game into him and Klay is exhibiting that with one of the purest jump shots in the game. The balance, the elevation and the follow through. It’s like poetry in motion. Give him just a slither of an opening and you can bet your house he’s making that shot. Give him a lane, and he’ll stroll right by you.
He works and tries hard but his defense isn’t the best and the savvy players will have their way with him. It’s a good thing he’ll have Andrew Bogut backing him up.
7. Jamal Crawford
I must admit I was a bit surprised when teams weren’t banging down Jamal Crawford’s door last offseason, but the Los Angeles Clippers aren’t complaining. After all, they hit the jackpot.
The former Sixth Man of the Year is returning to his old self again this season–providing instant offense off the Clippers bench with 16.9 points per game and dazzling the crowd with his ankle-breaking crossovers. His shooting percentages are also up as he’s shooting 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point land.
Defense has never been one of his strong suits. Although, it’s not so bad when you remember that he has extremely athletic bigs around him ready to swat any and everything into the 10th row. Plus, the team’s ranked fourth on defense, allowing just 94.4 points a game.
6. Manu Ginobili
With the 57th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected Manu Ginobili. Although they had to wait until 2002 to finally have his services, he was well worth it.
Heck, I bet Gregg Popovich still sits in his living room puffing on a cigar, grinning away as he watches highlights of Ginobili slithering through the tiniest of cracks in the defense on his way to the hoop, and his three championship rings.
At the age of 35, Manu’s slowed down somewhat but he’s still an integral cog in the Spurs engine room: providing offense, experience and creativity off the bench.
5. J.R. Smith
Many feel Smith could have and should have been an All-Star this year and I’m one of them. But hey, someone’s got to be a snub.
Coming off the Knicks bench, Smith has the free will to put up shots and when he’s feeling it, boy does he fill up the bucket in bunches. I wouldn’t necessarily categorize Smith a great scorer, but more as a streaky shooter. And if he gets hot, then you might as well not D him up.
The thing with him is you don’t know what he’s going to do next. And it’s that sort of unpredictability that excites you as a fan, worries you as a defender and frustrates you as a coach.
He’s never been known for his defense so it helps having Tyson Chandler covering his back. Having said that, at $2.8 million and a career-high 16.7 points per game this season, I doubt the Knicks are complaining.
4. Joe Johnson
Sure he’s paid like the second-best shooting guard in the NBA and with that kind of money you expect higher stats but Joe Johnson ain’t no slouch.
Look a little deeper and you’ll see that Johnson has ice running through his veins when the game in on the line. According to NBA.com’s stats; this season alone, when the margin is three points or less, Big Shot Joe has hit 8-of-9 shots–that’s 88.9 percent. Talk about clutch.
He’s a mammoth of a shooting guard with his bulky 240-pound, 6’7″ figure, but he knows how to use it and his defense is more than serviceable.
3. James Harden
The silky-smooth lefty has been playing with a point to prove this season after Oklahoma City refused to pay up and traded him to the Houston Rockets last summer.
His defense isn’t stellar but who cares when you’re playing MVP-type basketball and dropping 26 points a game–fifth in the NBA–while shooting 45 percent from the field and spearheading the highest scoring offense in the league.
Fear the beard.
2. Dwayne Wade
Over the past two seasons, Dwayne Wade’s scoring averages have been in decline but that’s mainly due to the assembling of the Big Three in Miami and he has had to give up some of the scoring load for the good of the team.
This season, Wade didn’t exactly burst out of the gates, which prompted a lot of criticism as many people believed he had slowed down and lost some of his athleticism along with his elite status. However, as the season went on, he began to show flashes of his old self through savvy defense, rebounding and his trademark 1-2 shuffle for some of the ridiculous finishes in the lane he’s been known for throughout his career.
Despite shooting a poor 26 percent from behind the arc, Flash (a nickname given to him by Shaquille O’Neal) is shooting a career-high 52 percent overall and he’s been playing some great basketball over the past two months or so, earning himself the fourth spot on NBA.com’s MVP race.
1. Kobe Bryant
Let’s face it, even with Wade’s stellar play as of late, the Black Mamba’s throne wasn’t really in danger with him averaging 27 points and all.
Kobe Bryant has been doing it all and doing it well this season; Scoring, passing, rebounding and defending as well as he has been for the last 14 years–even in exhibition games such as the All-Star Game.
Fair enough you could argue that his team has been under-performing for the majority of the season, but then again as he’s the primary reason the Lakers are back into playoff contention because of his hunger for that elusive sixth NBA championship ring.
There’s no doubt in mine or the minds of many that the future Hall of Famer is and has been the best shooting guard in the world over the last 14 years or so.