Top 5 Shooting Guards in the Atlantic Division
In the second installment, after ranking the Atlantic Division's top five point guards, we'll follow suit with the shooting guards. Another position that has stepped up in terms of talent.
Four of the five Atlantic Division teams will display a new shooting guard, continue reading to find out where they rank.
5. Jason Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers
Despite a recent decline over the past two seasons, Jason Richardson earns the fifth and final spot on our top five. This past season, Richardson average 11.6 points, 2 assists and 3.6 rebounds a game. At a quick glance, these numbers don’t jump out at you as they are similar to most of the other mid-level shooting guards in the Atlantic Division.
He plays average defense due to the fact he is 31 years old now, but is not a complete liability. The reason Jason Richardson made this list is his three-point shooting. He can absolutely light it up behind the arc.
Last season, he hit 40 percent of the shots he took from behind the line. The only other shooting guard in the Atlantic Division to convert at such a high rate is Courtney Lee of the Celtics, who made the No. 4 spot on our rankings.
Given the lack of depth of shooting guards in the Atlantic Division, Jason Richardson remains one of the top in his division.
4. Courtney Lee, Boston Celtics
With Avery Bradley slated to miss the start of the 2012-13 season, Courtney Lee will be expected to shoulder a rather significant role until Bradley is able to return to the lineup.
Despite a leaner stats line of 11.4 points, 1.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds, Lee is poised to flourish in Boston. He is an excellent defender, proven by his work against Kobe in the 2008 finals as a rookie.
He is very athletic and will be able to not only disrupt his opponent on the defensive end but he can keep pace with Rajon Rondo spreading the floor and creating cuts to the basket on fast breaks. You can also expect Lee to hit big-time baskets, especially with a 40 percent three-point conversion rate.
While he may not be a superstar, his skills are perfectly tailored to mesh with the rest of the Celtics lineup and be a significant contributor for his new team.
3. J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
J.R. Smith is a true wild card here at No. 3. Despite averaging just 12.5 points a game this season, accompanied by 2.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds, Smith is one of the better shooting guards in the Atlantic Division.
He began his season in China as a result of the lockout we all know too well. He was forced to miss training camp, which is vital to develop chemistry, especially on a new team. Smith also missed part of the regular season further setting him back with gaining comfort with his new teammates. He also was forced into a role in New York that was not his strength.
Smith has a great ability to come off of the bench and give you 20 points any night and play hard-nose defense, but in his first season in New York, he was forced to try to create shots for his teammates and run the offense. His production dipped as a result of being uncomfortable and playing the wrong role.
His defensive awareness also suffered. Smith can shoot the lights out of the ball when he is in rhythm and comfortable. With a full offseason and training camp coming up, he will gain the reps he needs to return to one of the top shooting guards in the Atlantic Division.
2. Jason Terry, Boston Celtics
One might question why a bench player would be as high as No. 2 on our list. There is one clear answer to this question. Production.
The Sixth Man is a role that Jason Terry thrives in and his numbers speak for themselves. His 15.1 points per game is top three among shooting guards in the Atlantic Division. He also averaged just under four assists and four rebounds per game last season, proving he is a valuable asset and will contribute immediately for the Celtics, something they will need to fill the void left by Ray Allen’s departure to South Beach.
Unlike Allen, Terry is comfortable coming off of the bench which helps create a team atmosphere and smooth rotations for Doc Rivers. This unselfishness increases his value as a shooting guard and serves as a great role model for younger players.
1. Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
A clear no-brainer here for the top spot. Following a 2011-12 campaign in which we saw Johnson average just under 19 points, four assists and four rebounds a game, it would be hard to argue to place him any lower.
He has excellent ball handling for a shooting guard, and is very capable of running an offense should he have to. He is a superb three-point shooter converting on 38.8 percent of his shots from downtown.
He has averaged at least 20 points a game five times in his career from 2005-2010. With a pass-first point guard in Deron Williams, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those type of numbers this season.
This article was first featured on Atlantic Twine.