NBA 2012 Season: Ranking the Top 10 Shooting Guards in the Game Today
Russell Westbrook is discussed every day, but what about James Harden? Tony Parker is getting MVP talk, but people forget about the impressive season Manu Ginobili had. Even Kyle Lowry is talked about more than his backcourt mate, Kevin Martin.
In what is now a point-guard driven league, people tend to forget about the elite shooting guards in the game today.
As a result, I have composed a list of the top 10 shooting guards in the game today, as I believe there are other guards out there who deserve ink besides the ones who bring up the ball.
Honorable Mention: Marcus Thornton
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Although Thornton had a great season this year, the Sacramento Kings did not. Thornton's numbers were most likely inflated, as he was the go-to guy on a bad team.
10. Monta Ellis
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While Ellis is usually among the league leaders in points per game, he has been able to do so by jacking up shots and playing minimal defense. However, Ellis sacrificed some of his scoring this season for team play.
He averaged six assists per game this year, a very high mark for a shooting guard. If he ever learns to play defense and continues to looks for his teammates more, Ellis has the talent to be one of the best in the game.
9. Ray Allen
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While his play has diminished this season, Allen is still one of the premier shooting guards in the league. The greatest shooter of all time had one of his best shooting seasons statistically this year.
Allen shot 91.5 percent from the free-throw line, and had a .453 three-point percentage, the highest mark of his career. While he doesn’t score as much as he used to, Allen is one of the most reliable players on the Celtics when they need a big bucket.
8. Eric Gordon
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Eric Gordon was a tough one to put on this list because he is an extremely talented player, but due to injuries only played in nine games this season. However, when he did suit up the Hornets, he was one of the best scoring guards in the league.
Gordon averaged 20.6 points per game this season, while shooting 45 percent from the field. If Gordon can stay healthy for a full season, he will quickly become one of the top-five shooting guards in the league.
7. Kevin Martin
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While he’s somewhat of a one-trick-pony, Martin is one of the best pure scorers in the game. He is a career 18.4-points-per-game scorer, and has done it with a .865 free-throw percentage and .377 three-point percentage.
Although he’s not a player you want to build a team around, if Martin ever got paired with a superstar, the Rockets would be a perennial playoff team.
6. Manu Ginobili
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Ginobili has long been considered one of the best shooting guards in the league, and he showed why with another superb season this year. Ginobili’s numbers might not have been eye-popping, as he put up 12.9 points and 4.4 assists per game, but he did that all in only 23.3 minutes per game.
Expect Ginobili to be more and more effective as the postseason continues, as one of the craftiest players in the league will be fresh.
5. James Harden
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While Harden didn’t win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award this year, he was certainly in the running. Arguably the NBA’s best sixth man, Harden averaged 16.8 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field, a very high mark for a guard.
Harden showed how versatile he is in the first-round series against Dallas this year, playing point guard for the second half of Game 4.
4. Andre Iguodala
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While Iguodala doesn’t average a ton of points for the Philadelphia 76ers, he does all the little things to help his team win. Iguodala is the best on-ball defender in the league, and is a very unselfish player, averaging 6.1 APG.
A jack-of-all-trades type of player, Iguodala doesn’t get enough credit for what he does.
3. Joe Johnson
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Although everyone knows that Joe Johnson is overpaid, that doesn’t mean he’s not a really good player. Johnson helped lead the Hawks to a fifth-place finish in the East, averaging 18.8 points per game, 3.9 assists per game and 3.7 rebounds per game.
Not only that, but he was efficient, shooting 45 percent from the field. If Atlanta gets past Boston this round, Joe Johnson will be one of the main reasons why.
2. Dwyane Wade
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Wade officially made the Miami Heat "LeBron’s team" this year, when he agreed to play second fiddle to the man who will probably win MVP this season. Even though his numbers dipped, Wade still put up 22.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game.
With fewer shots, Wade was more efficient, shooting almost 50 percent from the field. Even though all the pressure is on LeBron this postseason, Wade will play a huge part in whether the Heat win a title come June.
1. Kobe Bryant
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While the comparisons to Michael Jordan are ludicrous, "The Black Mamba" is the best player since MJ. If Kobe stays healthy, he has a good chance of breaking Kareem’s scoring record and may go down as the greatest Laker of all time.
Not only does he have the numbers, but he has the rings.
Kobe will be chasing his sixth championship this spring, and although the Lakers aren’t the favorite to win this year, he’s not a guy you want to bet against.