NBA: Top 10 Shooting Guards of the Decade
The NBA has featured countless skilled and versatile shooting guards. Yet as this season’s playoffs come to a close, it is becoming evident that many who have graced us with their talents over the past ten years are vanishing. Whether it be age or injury, their abilities slowly start to deteriorate, leaving only their legacy behind for us to remember.
The following specifies how the top ten shooting guards rank up against each other over the past ten years.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Roy
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Vitals: 6'6'', 211 lbs.
Career Stats: 19.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.7 APG.
Accolades: NBA Rookie of the Year 2007; three-time NBA All-Star (2008-2010); two-time All-NBA Team (2009 2nd Team, 2010 Third Team), NBA All-Rookie First Team (2007).
After missing out on Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant in past drafts, the Portland Trail Blazers looked to have finally found their next centerpiece in Brandon Roy. However, he continually succumbed to knee injuries which limited his contributions on the court.
Roy abruptly retired at the beginning of this season, stating that both his knees did not have sufficient cartilage to be successful. He has hinted since that he might make a return to the NBA, yet this remains to be seen.
Roy was a dynamic, all-around scorer who was renowned for his ability to score in clutch situations. Ranging from this shot to defeat the Houston Rockets, to his 18-point fourth quarter against Dallas in last year’s playoffs, Roy was no doubt a force at the two-guard position. It is unfortunate he was forced to retire early.
Honorable Mention: Michael Redd
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’6”, 215 lbs.
Career Stats: 19.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.7 three-point makes per game, 38 percent average from three-point range
Accolades: NBA All-Star (2004), All-NBA Third Team (2004), two-time Gold Medalist with Team USA (FIBA 2007, Beijing Olympics 2008), fifth all-time points for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Michael Redd is another two-guard whose career was altered by injury. He made a name for himself as one of the NBA’s best shooters, currently holding the record for most three-point field goals in a quarter with eight.
Yet Redd, much like Roy, had trouble with his legs. In the 2009-2010 season, he tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee, missing the rest of the season. The next year, Redd suffered the exact same injury, in the same knee.
He averaged 8.2 points this season, yet in the two games Redd started, he put up 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 53.8 percent shooting from three-point land. If this is a sign he is still productive, Redd’s future is very optimistic.
10. Jason Richardson
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’6”, 225 lbs.
Career Stats: 17.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.9 three-point makes per game, 37.2 percent average from three-point range.
Accolades: NBA All-Rookie First Team (2002), two-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion (2002, 2003).
Joining Michael Jordan and Nate Robinson as the only players to win back-to-back slam dunk titles, Richardson is now one of the premier shooters the NBA has to offer. He started his career in Golden State, more renowned for his athletic ability than his scoring.
However, as his career progressed Richardson developed his outside shooting and settled into that role. He has averaged between 1.8 and 3.0 three-point field goals per game over the last seven seasons, keeping defenders honest from beyond the arc.
His regular season success did not translate to postseason appearances however, and has appeared just four times in his ten year career. This can be subject to playing for teams like Golden State, Charlotte and Phoenix—teams whose struggles to contend have been well documented.
9. Richard Hamilton
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’7”, 193 lbs.
Career Stats: 17.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.5 APG.
Accolades: NBA Champion (2004), three-time NBA All-Star (2006-2008).
Easily identified by his protective face mask, Hamilton is one of the most consistent players of the past decade. Celebrated for being a part of the dominant Detroit Pistons, he was an efficient, steady scorer, placing himself as one of the greats in terms of off-ball movement. Similar to Ray Allen’s roaming on the perimeter, Hamilton played with the same style, albeit at mid-range.
He was a driving force for the Pistons as they won the championship in 2004, averaging 21.5 points per game for the postseason, including 23.7 in the Conference Finals along with 21.4 in the NBA Finals. Hamilton has been troubled by injuries the last few seasons that limited his production, most recently with the Chicago Bulls this year where he participated in just 28 games.
8. Joe Johnson
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’7”, 240 lbs.
Career Stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.4 APG.
Accolades: six-time NBA All-Star (200-2012), All-NBA Third Team (2010), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2002).
While Johnson is better known for his bloated contract rather than his skills nowadays, he is still a scoring threat in the NBA. Age has slowed his on-court production, as his minutes and points per game averaged have gradually slipped the past six seasons.
Johnson has been the face of the Atlanta Hawks franchise for the last half-decade, teaming with Josh Smith and Al Horford to create a dynamic, balanced group to contend in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the team has seen early exit after early exit from the playoffs.
His smooth ball-handling, scoring and ability to come up in the clutch has kept him in the conversation each year, when analysts and fans alike compare the top shooting guards.
7. Jason Terry
Brett Deering/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’2”, 180 lbs.
Career Stats: 16.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.7 three-point makes per game, 38 percent shooting from three-point range.
Accolades: NBA Champion (2011), NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2009), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2009).
One of the smaller men to play shooting guard, Terry has remained one of the most dependable. He has averaged better than 15 points per game every season of his career, with his rookie year being the one exception.
The last five years has seen him take a reserve role for the Dallas Mavericks, highlighted by his winning of the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2009.
Additionally, Terry is one of the finest shooters the NBA has ever encountered. He currently ranks fourth all-time in three-point field goals made, trailing just Jason Kidd, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. His percentages of 38 and 39.4 in the regular season and postseason respectively indicate that he is not only a prolific shooter, but one of the more efficient as well.
Terry ultimately deserved to win the NBA championship last season over the Miami Heat, which has solidified his career. He performed outstandingly against the Heat, averaging 18 points on percentages of 49.4 and 39.3 from the field and from three-point range respectively.
6. Vince Carter
Brett Deering/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’6”, 220 lbs.
Career Stats: 21.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.9 APG.
Accolades: NBA Rookie of the Year (1999), eight-time NBA All-Star (2000-2007), All-NBA Second Team (2001), All-NBA Third Team (2000), NBA All-Rookie First Team (1999), NBA Slam Dunk Champion (2000).
Much like Jason Richardson, Vince Carter was an athletic sensation before he developed the other components of his game. Although for Carter, it took less time.
After his rookie season, he averaged better than 20 points per game for ten straight seasons. Despite being traded to the New Jersey Nets, his production did not falter.
He made a name for himself as one of the league’s top scorers, averaging as much as 27.5 points per game. Yet despite his success during the season, Carter has reached the postseason just seven times, including three straight with New Jersey.
His playoff shooting percentage of 41.1 is somewhat confusing considering his regular season success. However, Carter remained one of the top shooting guards over the decade, either scoring outside on his silky smooth jumper or driving inside to dunk on the opposing center.
5. Manu Ginobili
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’6”, 205 lbs.
Career Stats: 15.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG.
Accolades: three-time NBA Champion (2003, 2005, 2007), two-time NBA All-Star (2005, 2011), two-time All-NBA Third Team (2008, 2011), NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2008), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2003).
Manu Ginobili epitomizes the term ‘draft steal’. Taken with the 57th overall pick in 1999, he has proven over the course of his career that he was severely overlooked. Not only that, but he exemplifies the role of a sixth man, starting just 346 games of the 667 he has participated in.
Ginobili has been a key to the Spurs’ success, regularly stepping up to do whatever it is the team needs to win. He is an elite scorer and distributor, which unfortunately is not reflected in his numbers. This is due to Ginobili playing an average of 27.9 minutes per game for his career.
Head coach Gregg Popovich has done a surreal job of keeping his players efficient and rested, which in turn has allowed them to be successful as they have aged. Ginobili has won three NBA championships with the Spurs, while a fourth could be in the cards if San Antonio continues to perform as they have thus far.
4. Allen Iverson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’0”, 165 lbs.
Career Stats: 26.7 PPG, 6.2 APG, 2.2 SPG.
Accolades: NBA MVP (2001), NBA Rookie of the Year (1997), 11-time NBA All-Star (2000-2010), four-time NBA scoring champion (1999, 2001-2002, 2005), three-time NBA steals leader (2001-2003), three-time All-NBA First Team (1999, 2001, 2005), three-time All-NBA Second Team (2000, 2002-2003), All-NBA Third Team (2006), NBA All-Rookie First Team (1997), two-time NBA All-Star Game MVP (2001, 2005).
One of the most prolific scorers the NBA has ever seen, Allen Iverson made his mark on the NBA from day one. Standing just 6’0”, Iverson became a deadly offensive weapon, averaging better than 25 points per game for 12 straight years.
While he wasn’t one of the most efficient, shooting just 42.5 percent for his career, Iverson will remain legendary in that aspect. He was fearless in attacking the rim, regularly contorting his body on powerful drives and athletic lay-ups.
Easily one of the greatest 76ers to ever play for the team, Iverson led Philadelphia to the NBA Finals in 2001 against Shaquille O’Neal and the powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 48 points in the opening game in LA, helping the Sixers win. They were unfortunately swept the rest of the series.
3. Ray Allen
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’5”, 205 lbs.
Career Stats: 20.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.4 three-point makes per game, 40.0 percent shooting from three point range.
Accolades: NBA Champion (2008), 10-time NBA All-Star (2000-2002, 2004-2009, 2011), All-NBA Second Team (2005), All-NBA Third Team (2001), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997), NBA Three-Point Shootout Champion (2001), NBA Sportsmanship Award (2003).
Ray Allen stands above anyone before him in terms of three-point shooting. Last season, he surpassed the great Reggie Miller to become the all-time leader in three-point makes and attempts. He is also part of an exclusive club of just 35 players that average better than 40.0 percent from downtown for their careers, both regular season and postseason.
Allen’s textbook shooting form has made fans all around the world model their own after it, in hope of becoming just as expert. Yet his shooting is not limited to the three-point line.
Allen is 89.4 percent from the free-throw line for his career, displaying his proficiency. He was a part of the trio in Boston that won the championship in 2008, alongside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as they returned the team to Eastern Conference dominance.
Despite being 36 years old, Allen continues to dominate from the perimeter and enhance his all-time lead in three-point shooting.
2. Kobe Bryant
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’6”, 205 lbs.
Career Stats: 25.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.2 SPG.
Accolades: five-time NBA Champion (2000-2002, 2009-2010), two-time Finals MVP (2009-2010), NBA MVP (2008), 14-time NBA All-Star (1998, 2000-2012), two-time NBA Scoring Champion (2006-2007), 10-time All-NBA First Team (2002-2004, 2006-2012), two-time All-NBA Second Team (2000-2001), two-time All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2005), nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000, 2003-2004, 2006-2011), three-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2001-2002, 2012), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997), four-time NBA All-Star MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011), NBA Slam Dunk Champion (1997).
If there was ever to be a second Michael Jordan, his name is Kobe Bryant. Almost identical in terms of height and build, Bryant will always be held in conversation when Jordan is mentioned. Both had the same coach and similar play styles. Whether Phil Jackson had something to do this can be debated, but its undeniable both were spectacular in their own right.
Bryant is one of the greatest scorers the NBA has ever seen, as he currently ranks fifth all-time. He is 1935 points behind Wilt Chamberlain, whom he may very well pass by the time he retires.
Bryant ranks third all-time in playoff scoring, trailing just Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He has been consistently spectacular in that aspect, holding the record for second-most points scored in a game with 81. He was also a fantastic defender, evidenced by his career average of 1.5 steals per game.
However, while Bryant has certainly been one of the most productive scorers, he was not the most efficient. His career average of 45.3 percent shooting limits his comparison to Jordan and in turn his ranking on this list. His five championships are certainly noteworthy, but in terms of individual comparison, are irrelevant. Championships are a team accomplishment, so while Bryant deserves credit to an extent, they do separate him from his peers.
1. Dwyane Wade
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Vitals: 6’4”, 220 lbs.
Career Stats: 25.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG.
Accolades: NBA Champion (2006), NBA Finals MVP (2006), eight-time NBA All-Star (2005-2012), NBA Scoring Champion (2009), two-time All-NBA First Team (2009-2010), three-time All-NBA Second Team (2005-2006, 2011), two-time All-NBA Third Team (2007, 2012), three-time All-Defensive Second Team (2005, 2009-2010), NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004), NBA All-Star Game MVP (2010), two-time Skills Challenge Champion (2006-2007).
Although Kobe Bryant is perpetually referred to as the top shooting guard of the decade, the title belongs to Dwyane Wade. He is arguably the greatest slasher in NBA history, splitting pick-and-roll defenses with relative ease. Wade’s ability to get into the paint is second to none, either laying it in or using his athleticism to dunk over opponents.
He has a reliable mid-range jumpshot, in addition to a post-game which he continues to demonstrate. Wade’s career averages dictate how versatile he is, and how many facets of the game he affects.
His defense is severely underrated, as he is one of the most productive in that aspect of the game. Wade is the only player 6’5” or under to accumulate more than 100 blocks in a season. Additionally, his on-ball defense and ability to steal from his opponents is outstanding. Considering he has only been awarded to three All-Defensive teams, the voting process needs an overhaul. His shooting percentage of 48.6 displays his accuracy, yet his average of 29.1 from three-point range limits an all-around scoring effort.
Wade is also one of the most efficient players to ever grace an NBA court. He ranks sixth and eighth in terms of PER (Player Efficiency Rating) in the regular season and playoffs respectively. This elusive group that is the top ten of PER contains the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain and so on.
Wade’s career PER of 25.70 dwarfs Bryant’s average of 23.44 by a longshot. The numeric difference may not seem like much, but it is basically the difference of efficiency between Dirk Nowtizki (23.63) and Pau Gasol (21.92). Some of you may argue that Bryant is Wade’s superior, yet for a player to be the greatest, should he not be the most efficient?