UConn: Cradle Of NBA Shooting Guards

Paul McGuillicuddyAnalyst IMay 3, 2009

BOSTON - MAY 02:  Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics passes the ball as Kirk Hinrich #12 of the Chicago Bulls defends in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden on May 2, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Bulls 109-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Survey question: Who are the three best shooting guards currently playing in the NBA?

Take your time in answering—there is no rush.

While you are thinking it over, here are a couple of ideas to consider.

There are guys who can hit shots, and there are shooters.

Guys like Brad Miller can knock down shots from time to time—one cannot question that fact.  

Of course the rarity of this occurring touches off an awkward neanderthal-like celebration that lies somewhere between, I have never been in a spot like this before and I don’t know how to act, or I am not sure I will ever pull that one off again, so I better enjoy this while I can.

Chris Mullin and Reggie Miller provide examples of a shooting guard.  

Mullin showed true bravado. After releasing his shot, he displayed so much confidence in its result that he would return to defense while the ball floated in mid-air toward its target. This head start in defensive transition helped the St. John’s alum make up for his lack of foot speed.

Despite his gangly and awkward appearance opposing defenses had to account for Miller on every possession.

Shooting guards play a specific and important role to the success of any championship-contending team. They are the guys moving off the ball.  Often times they can be seen creating an arc as they glide along the baseline moving from one side of the floor to the other.  

Their's is a life lived moving off screens shoulder-to-shoulder and hip-to-hip, doing whatever it takes to create space between them and the defender.

Then as he moves in the direction of the ball, the shooting guard must make that quintessential finesse move of catching the ball, maintaining balance with his feet underneath torso, square to the basket, and gently release the sphere toward the rim.

Shooting guards can create their own shot. But that is not a shooting guard’s role though. A shooting guard must ready himself when opportunity comes.

Like Steve Kerr and John Paxson, a shooting guard must provide a compliment to the team. Working as geometricians Kerr and Paxson deftly opened the floor and made lanes while MJ drove to the basket.  

Yes, Jordan hit shots from the outside, but that just wasn’t his primary role. 

When a team trails by three with only one possession remaining, the shooting guard is the one teammates work to get open. In the huddle coaches draw up plays for the shooting guard, sure the coach will discuss a second and third option but that is a requirement.  

The shooting guard is the first option.

In the opposing huddle, players scheme to keep the ball out of the shooting guard’s hand.

Still thinking?

Irony exists to this answer.

The three best shooting guards in the NBA come from a college known more for its defensive prowess.  

Jim Calhoun’s reputation is one of rebounding and defense. Despite playing one of the tougher schedules year after year, Calhoun’s Huskies rank high in most defensive statistical categories such as rebounding margin, field goal percentage defense, and points allowed.

When it comes down to a final possession though, and a team needs to hit a three, who is more prepared in the NBA to take that shot than former UConn Huskies Ray Allen, Ben Gordon, and Richard Hamilton.

In Game 4 of their opening-round series Allen and Gordon made NBA fans giddy as they traded punches like world-class middleweights. Shot after shot the Husky alums knocked down their shots.  

The Celtics and Bulls had the finest of all first-round playoff matchup's. Allen and Gordon showed why they are shooting guards as the Eastern Conference semi-final series required seven overtimes periods.  

Meanwhile Hamilton’s Piston’s limped from the playoffs. After an impressive run of six consecutive conference championships Detroit exited after the first round. It was Hamilton who played the role of shooting guard for those Piston teams of the last decade.

Now Hamilton might find himself playing the role of hired gun as Joe Dumars may need to dismantle his team.

Gordon figures to wear a new uniform next year. Hamilton’s future is unclear. Allen seems to have found a home in Boston. Where ever they play, it doesn't matter, they are three of the best shooting guards in the NBA.