Since the great Michael Jordan represented the No. 23 on his Chicago Bulls jersey, the shooting guard position has arguably been the most exciting spot on the floor in the NBA.
Also known as 2 guards, these players can do anything from shooting mid-range jumpers and slashing to the rim, to running the offense and making their teammates noticeably better on the court.
Today, the typical shooting guard is ball-dominant, although you do tend to run into those who are excellent playing without the ball in their hands, such as Detroit’s Richard Hamilton and Boston’s Ray Allen.
Shooting guards love a good screen, and the elite players welcome the defensive attention, not only to draw defenders away from their opponents, but to increase the chances of drawing a foul as well.
The following five shooting guards are all-stars, franchise players, and most of the time, the key component to their team's success in both the regular season and the playoffs.
1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (27.8 PPG on .459 FG, 5.3 RPG, 4.8 APG)
Bryant is the complete NBA player and, without a doubt, the best overall player to grace the game since Jordan.
This season, despite injuries to three fingers on his shooting hand, an ankle injury, and back spasms, Kobe is leading the Lakers to a possible third-consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, holding on to the second best record in the NBA.
A top-three candidate for the 2010 MVP award, Bryant has hit six game-winning shots this season, is a pest on defense, and is averaging over 27 points for the seventh time in his 14-year career.
Topping this list may not be enough for Kobe Bryant; many will state that he is still the best player in the NBA.
2. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat (26.4 PPG on .465 FG, 4.7 RPG, 6.6 APG)
The Heat may be clinging to that final spot in the weaker Eastern Conference, but Wade is the most consistent player on the team, and his contributions on offense and defense do not go unnoticed.
It’s a known fact that numerous teams will be gunning for Wade this summer, as he headlines a free agent class packed with superstars and all-stars, and there is nobody more deserving of a max contract than he is.
Nicknamed "Flash" by his teammates, his ability to get to the rim is unmatched by most players in the league, and even though his numbers are somewhat down from last year’s, he is still one of the most effective and dangerous guards in the East.
3. Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers (21.9 PPG on .472 FG, 4.5 RPG, 4.8 APG)
Roy is a versatile combo guard that can play three spots on the floor, and his ability to create for his teammates has been beneficial to Portland’s success this season.
Considering the amount of times he does handle the basketball, his turnovers are low (2.2 per game). Unfortunately, like Wade, most of his numbers have taken a hit due to injuries, but not enough to affect the Blazers in a negative manner.
The most intriguing part of Roy’s game is not his offensive game, but his defense. Roy has had plenty of success defending elite scorers in the league, including Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, both of which you will find ahead of him, but his overall body of work sits him at third in the rankings.
4. Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks (21.5 PPG on .458 FG, 4.7 RPG, 4.7 APG)
Similar numbers, but less defense–that’s why Joe Johnson sits below Brandon Roy on the Fab Five list.
There are similarities between the two. Both can run the point for their respective teams, both can shoot the rock, and neither shy away from contact on the drive, but Johnson’s defensive game isn’t as polished.
Fortunately, his Hawks are the superior team, and with all due respect to Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford, Johnson is the clear-cut leader and the player sitting in the driver’s seat in Atlanta.
Similarly to Roy, Johnson turns the ball over just twice per game, just below his career average and 1.3 fewer times than his career high, which also occurred as a Hawk.
5. Stephen Jackson, Charlotte Bobcats (20.7 PPG on .427 FG, 5.0 RPG, 3.8 APG)
He may not score as much as Monta Ellis, or shoot 45 percent from the floor, but Stephen Jackson is a top defensive player at the 2 guard position.
The Bobcats are 29-25 with him in the lineup, 3-6 to start the season without him. The record may not sway many fans’ decisions until they glance at Charlotte’s struggles last season: 35-47 in the standings, ninth in opponent's points per game.
This season, Charlotte is a top-three defensive team in the NBA, ranked first in opponent's points per game, holding those teams to under 45 percent shooting.
Jackson not only leads the team in steals, but also in points, providing relief for Gerald Wallace at both ends of the hardwood.