It wasn't too long ago that shooting guards once ruled the league. The trend was started by the one and only Micheal Jordan, and carried on up until only a few years ago where the NBA had slowly started looking like a point guard's league.
Times have changed though, and former superstars like Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady, Jerry Stackhouse, Allen Iverson and Richard Hamilton, amongst others, can no longer be the dominant forces they once were. It is very possible that the shooting guard position is the weakest in the league only next to center, which is resulting in many teams going "small" and starting combo-guards rather than using the prototypical shooting guard.
There is still hope though. Many of the league's top talented guards are very young and on the rise, and who knows? Maybe in a few years the NBA will start to look like the early 2000s again where teams were very potent on offense and exiting to watch.
Here I've ranked the top 35 shooting guards in the NBA based on statistics from last season and including other factors such as injury and potential in my analysis as well. I'm not used to doing rankings, so let me know what you think!
Hope you enjoy.
Great player with a bright future; just missed the list.
Could prove to be worth his contract with more opportunity next year.
Solid player who is yet to live up his draft status.
High hopes for him in Charlotte; we'll see how he handles a starting role.
Will improve next season especially if Iggy is shipped off. Sixers fans are hoping he sprouts in his second season similar to what DeRozan did last year.
Should do great with all of the open looks he'll find in Dallas. It's up to him to give it 110 percent every night and restore his reputation as a talented young player while maximizing his next contract's value.
Only played in 10 games last year and many have counted him out. I'm going to mention him here in hopes that he bounces back to around 12 points per game for the Bucks (if he re-signs with them), who might just make the playoffs.
Anthony Morrow is one of the best players to go undrafted in the NBA right now, and he provides the Nets with great scoring from downtown. Last season Morrow took advantage of his opportunity being on a bottom-dwelling team and increased his scoring to 13.1 points per game on 42 percent from deep.
Morrow is 23 years of age and will be going into his third season, so the Nets should enjoy continued production from their young guard moving forward.
Now a lot of people are going to be upset seeing him so low on the list, but Shannon Brown still has a lot to prove. Brown is 25 years old and is yet to prove his worth in the NBA.
Last season Brown did a good job as a backup to Kobe Bryant, averaging career highs of 8.7 points and 19.2 minutes, but he will need to polish his game further if he wants starter's minutes in the NBA. Brown is very gifted with natural athleticism and he could be a difference-maker playing on a new team next season.
Kirk Hinrich is more of a point guard, but some consider him a 2-guard so that's why I've included him on the list.
Hinrich doesn't put up flashy stats, but his hustle on defence is something every team would welcome with open arms, and he's one of the main reasons why the Hawks were such a tough team in the playoffs last season. Hinrich averaged a modest 10 points per game and four assists, while shooting 40 percent from downtown.
George Hill is a point guard to many, but he will likely be the starting shooting guard for the Pacers next season. Hill should be fine because even though he's not very tall, he's got a freakish 6'9" wingspan which allows him to play stellar defence.
Offensively Hill played solid offensively for the top-seeded Spurs last season averaging 11.7 points in only 28.3 minutes per game. Adjusted to 36 minutes, Hill would average 15 points per game and 1.5 steals, which is exactly what Indiana hopes he could do next season.
Hill is also a good three-point shooter, and the 25-year-old has a lot going for him right now.
Last year we saw Arron Afflalo carve out a name for himself in the NBA. Afflalo finished the season averaging 12.6 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from deep and 85 percent from the charity stripe. Afflalo also provided stellar defence for the Nuggets who finished the season surprisingly healthy after trading away their superstar, Carmelo Anthony.
Afflalo can be a very inexpensive solution at the SG position to the many teams in need of help this offseason. Afflalo to the Suns would be a perfect match.
Jordan Crawford went from riding the Atlanta bench to lighting it up in Washington after he was traded to the Wizards halfway through the season.
Crawford, who was just a rookie, took advantage of his new-found opportunity and averaged 16.3 points and 3.9 assists in 16 games for the Wizards. Crawford had averaged over 33 minutes in those games, which was up from the 10 minutes per game he got in Atlanta.
Some will argue Crawford's success was a result of his situation, and point towards his poor field-goal percentage, but his performance was very good for a rookie and he can only improve further as his overall game is worked on.
If Nick Young is let go by the Wizards, Crawford will be the full-time starter in Washington and could possibly lead his team in scoring next season playing next to John Wall.
Ben Gordon was in a mess of a situation last season with Detroit, and had to share playing time with four other rotation players. Things didn't get any better for him when the team drafted combo-guard Brandon Knight this June because Knight's presence would require the Pistons to slide Stuckey over to shooting guard, making things even murkier for Gordon.
The Pistons need to revamp their roster, but the large contracts of Villanueva and Gordon are hard to move. The former Sixth Man of the Year, Gordon was once known as a electrifying 20-point scorer, but has failed to produce at that level ever since signing with Detroit two seasons ago.
Last season Gordon averaged only 11.2 points, but it was mainly due to the limited playing time he was given. Had Gordon received 36 minutes per game, he would have averaged 15.5 points. Gordon is still a good shooter and the owners of the Pistons should be pushing for an amnesty clause so they could void Richard Hamilton's large contract and make room for Gordon.
Vince Carter is getting old, and should take a pay cut in order to play with a contender next season. The Suns will likely buy out Carter's contract which will allow him to sign wherever he pleases.
Carter was traded to the Suns last season in a trade that sent Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson over to Orlando. The 34-year-old Carter saw his numbers drop to career lows last year scoring only 14 points per game, and will likely regress further if he sees less playing time on a contender.
John Salmons was overpaid last summer when the Bucks handed him a five-year $39 million contract, but one has to question why the Bucks would offer a deal like that to a 30-year-old who will likely digress.
Salmons is now 31, and last season he saw his numbers drop from 20 points per game to 14, while the Bucks failed to make the playoffs after a promising 2009-2010 campaign. Just before draft night, the Bucks tried to undo their mistake by trading away Salmons to the Kings, and while this trade worked out well for the Bucks, it only makes things harder for Salmons.
The Kings are a team with many scoring options, almost too many. Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton and rookie Jimmer Fredette are all known to be ball-dominating players, and that could further derail Salmon's production.
I'm still puzzled as to why the Kings traded down in order to acquire Salmons, as Beno Udrih was just as productive and less expensive as well.
Richard Hamilton went from being a fan favorite in Detroit's glory days to being labelled a team cancer last season when he and several other teammates allegedly boycotted Pistons head coach John Kuester by refusing to show up for practice.
Even though he's getting old and his contract is inflated, Hamilton is still a serviceable shooting guard. Hamilton averaged 14.1 points per game in only 27.2 minutes, and if his contract is bought out, he could still help a team win a title.
Hamilton shot the ball pretty well from deep last season (38 percent), and could possibly take on a Ray Allen-type role on a new team.
Tony Allen has been key to both the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies in the past two seasons where we saw both of those teams make miraculous playoff runs. Allen is a savvy veteran who can score and defend multiple positions.
Allen only averaged 20.8 minutes last season but despite that, he still managed to score 9.8 points per game and grab 1.8 steals per game. If we were to adjust his numbers to 36 minutes, Allen would have averaged 17 points per game, 3.1 steals and 4.7 rebounds. He was only paid around $3 million last year which makes his contract a bargain.
J-Rich was formidable last season, but he's also another player who is on the wrong side of 30. Richardson averaged 15.6 points per game last year and was the second-leading scorer for Orlando. Richardson was averaging nearly 20 points per game in Phoenix, but saw his numbers drop down to under 14 points per game after being traded to Orlando.
Being 30 years of age, Richardson should still have two good years left in him, and he expressed his desire to help a contender win a title for next season, which could also mean he's willing to take a pay cut. If so, Richardson to Chicago or Dallas could help those teams make it to the finals next year.
B-Roy was the third-best shooting guard in the league just a few seasons ago, but his injuries have finally caught up with him. Roy should've gotten drafted in the top three back in 2006, but teams were afraid of his knee problems and he dropped down to sixth overall.
The Blazers enjoyed multiple 50-win seasons with Roy, but it seems Roy's best days are behind him despite him being only 27 years old. Last season it was discovered that his knees had no cartilage left which would cause them to swell when he would try to do regular activities such as running and jumping. It's truly a shame to see such a skilled player go through this, but there's still hope for Roy.
Last year Roy only averaged 28 minutes of playing time and as a result he only scored 12.2 points per game and saw most of his percentages drop as well. B-Roy is one of the hardest-working players in the NBA, and to think he won't make the most out of what he has left is absurd. Roy only played in 47 games last season, but with a lockout possibly cutting the season in half, that means more time for Roy to recover and fewer games to play.
If Roy can last for around 31 minutes per game, I don't see why he doesn't average over 15-16 points while possibly winning a championship on his stacked Portland squad.
O.J. Mayo has had a rough season last year, but the Grizzlies' epic playoff run helped boost his reputation up again. Mayo was a beast in his rookie and sophomore seasons, averaging 18.5 and 17.5 points respectively. Last year Mayo's scoring average plummeted to only 11.3 points per game, and he lost his starting spot to rookie Xavier Henry at one point in the season.
Mayo was also in the center of a gambling fight with teammate Tony Allen, and the team even tried trading him at the trade deadline for Pacers forward Josh McRoberts.
Mayo went from being labelled a future All-Star to just being a "volume shooter" by some. Next season Mayo would be smart to get his act together as it's a contract year for him, and if he can get back to around 18-20 points per game, he will once again be considered one of the better shooting guards in the league.
As of right now though, Mayo has a lot to prove. Don't get me wrong, I'm positive he will be good, but his situation in Memphis hasn't changed—if anything, it has gotten worse. The Grizz drafted the athletic Josh Selby who will likely eat away at Mayo's playing time, and Xavier Henry could also improve, which will warrant more playing time for him as well.
Marcus Thornton was one of the better rookies in 2009-2010; he averaged 14.5 points per game in just 25.6 minutes per game. Last year, Thornton was barely used by the Hornets, averaging only 16.2 minutes. In a late-February trade, Thornton was sent to the Kings, a young team with no real direction, and he was given the green light to shoot as much as he wanted.
Thornton averaged a stellar 21.3 points per game, and was saw his playing time increase to 38 minutes per game. Thornton might not maintain such a high average for all of next season since his team has added even more scoring options, but the 24-year-old has a lot ahead of him if he continues to improve.
James Harden is another rising shooting guard in the NBA. Harden is well known for his three-point shooting and good defence. Although Harden is a key player for the Thunder, he is yet to see major playing time on the team, starting in only five games last season.
Harden averaged 12.2 points, 3.1 boards and 1.1 steals per game for the Thunder last season even though he only received 26.7 minutes per game. If we were to adjust his playing time to 36 minutes, Harden would have averaged 16.5 points, 4.2 boards and 1.5 steals. What adds to this is that he plays on the Thunder, one of the top teams out West.
Harden is only 22 years old and should continue to improve going into his third season, but until we see it he gets No. 20 on my list.
J.R. Smith is a very underrated player. Smith is one of the league's top sixth men, and he could light it up on any given night. Smith averaged only 12.3 points per game, but per 36 minutes he did 17.8 points. Smith has proven to us over the years that he truly is capable of achieving such a stat line with minutes, but the Nuggets got the most out of him when he led the second unit.
Smith is better known to most fans for being a hothead, with many off-court incidents and many on-court feuds mentioned in his portfolio. Despite this, Smith isn't any less of a player, and could ball with the best of them.
This offseason the Nuggets have a ton of cap space, but J.R. Smith might still leave the team because he and Nuggets coach George Karl have had many problems with one another. Personally I find it exciting to wonder how Smith would preform on another team. In his entire career, Smith has only seen a backup role, and if he could find a team which would embrace him as a full-time starter, Smith could average eye-opening stats next season—especially if that team is a lottery team in need of scoring options.
Jamal Crawford is starting to get past his prime. The 31-year-old was crucial to Atlanta this postseason, but the Hawks might not want to give him a long-term extension after seeing his scoring average drop to 14.2 points per game from 18 points the year before where he also won the Sixth Man of the Year award. Crawford's shooting percentages were down just slightly, but unfortunately it's likely things will only go downhill from here.
Moving forward, Crawford is still one of the better shooting guards in the league, and he will likely find a team to pay him big this offseason. Hopefully if he does digress, it is only by a little bit.
Nick Young had a breakout season last year and replaced Gilbert Arenas as Washington's top scoring threat. Scoring 17.4 points per game on 44 percent shooting, Young's success was widely due to Washington's lack of talent, but even so, his ability to score consistently from the field and perimeter (38 percent from deep) tells us that he's a capable starting shooting guard who still has room to grow.
I expect Young to score around 15 points per game if he is signed onto a playoff team, but I wouldn't be surprised if he improves on last year's numbers if he remains on a lottery team.
Now I'm positive a lot of people here didn't expect Leandro Barbosa to be so high, so I'm going to explain just how good he is in detail.
First off, Barbosa had a pretty good season averaging 13.3 points per game and 0.9 steals on 45 percent shooting. Barbosa only averaged 24.1 minutes per game, and if we adjust his numbers to 36 minutes, Barbosa would have scored 20 points per game.
What tells us more is that Barbosa had to play in a backcourt which provided fluctuating minutes. I mean, it's not like the Raptors were stacked but the team made it a priority to develop young players even if it meant less playing time for our more capable veterans. In Barbosa's case, Jerryd Bayless was labelled as his "student" by many, but the development of Bayless ultimately took away from Barbosa's opportunities.
The biggest reason why I think Barbosa is much better then he's given credit for is the condition that he played in last season. Barbosa was plagued all season by a nagging wrist injury and by his shoulder. His injury required surgery, but he decided to play through it until he had no choice but to have surgery. The direct result of the injuries was Barbosa's inability to shoot comfortably, and this also showed on the stat sheet. Had Barbosa been healthy and more efficient, he could have produced at an even higher rate.
In 2009-10, Barbosa only played in 44 games and last season he played in only 58 games. Next season Barbosa is expected to be 100 percent, and if he is, expect Barbosa to be just as good as he was in 2006-07—but this time he'll be playing on the Raptors.
Rodney Stuckey has spent most of his career playing as a point guard, but it has become the consensus amongst fans that he's really a shooting guard capable of running the point at times.
Regardless of what position he's playing, Stuckey is a very skilled basketball player. Stuckey averaged 15.5 points per game last season despite playing having to create most of his own shots. Next season, the Pistons will have a very talented young PG in Brandon Knight.
Knight played a similar game to Stuckey while he was in Kentucky last year, but Lawrence Frank and the Pistons will want him to play like a traditional PG—something the Pistons have been missing ever since trading away Chauncey Billups.
The Pistons will want to keep Stuckey on the roster, and they should have no need for Richard Hamilton if Stuckey and Gordon are ready to use up all the minutes at the 2-guard slot. Expect Hamilton to be bought out or waived if there is an amnesty clause in the next CBA.
The other scenario will be Stuckey leaving the Pistons and playing on another team. There are a number of teams that would love to have Stuckey on board including the Nets, Pacers and Bulls. Alternatively he could also sign with a bottom-dwelling team which will guarantee him a breakout season.
Overall, Rodney Stuckey was in a terrible situation and, at the age of 25, is starting to enter his prime. He's not an All-Star, but can certainly produce like one if given the right opportunity.
Wesley Matthews was a total steal for the Portland Trail Blazers last year. Matthews just completed his second season in the league and finished with averages of 16 points and 1.2 steals, while shooting 41 percent from deep.
Matthews isn't the youngest of sophomores but the fact that he produced at such a high level despite being on a talented playoff team with many other offensive weapons is impressive.
Matthews should continue to improve as a player, and we should recognize that even if his numbers don't improve a huge amount because the Blazers are a 50-win team and could make some noise in the playoffs next season.
Stephen Jackson is one of the few old geezers left who can still make an impact. "Jack" has had a very solid career, despite all the technical fouls and fines. If there's one thing he'll be remembered for on the court, it's for being a great teammate. NBA players and coaches alike can't deny that Jackson is a great teammate, and maybe this is linked to the other thing he's known for: taking lottery teams to the playoffs.
Jackson, who is 33, did a very good job leading Pacers, Warriors and Bobcats to the playoffs. Last season the Bobcats let point guard Raymond Felton sign elsewhere, and traded Tyson Chandler for Eric Dampier's expiring contract. Despite having a terrible team, Jackson still helped them win 34 games with averages of 18.5 points per game and 4.5 boards. The Bobcats could have easily gone under 20 wins if Jackson was not leading the team.
Just before draft night, the Bucks acquired Jackson in an attempt to "win now" while Andrew Bogut is young enough to make them a contender. On the Bucks, Jackson will help the team earn an identity similar to what John Salmons did for half a season. The Bucks were offensively stagnant and Jackson's game is a perfect match for the team's needs.
Jackson might not average over 18 points again next season, but with him on the roster, the Bucks looked primed for another playoff run.
Andre Iguodala is a very solid basketball player. Iggy doesn't really light up the scoreboard, but his hustle and defensive play make him a game-changer.
Iguodala may be on the block, but no matter where he plays he should be fine. The Sixers made the playoffs last season and Iggy was their best player. Some will argue whether Iguodala is really an All-Star-level player or not, but personally I don't think he's supposed to be one. His game is designed to help his team win, and that's what they will continue to do if they use him properly.
Iguodala averaged a solid 14.1 points per game, grabbed seven boards and dished out seven assists, and a slasher like him scored a lot less since the Sixers had few players who were capable of shooting from the perimeter. If he is traded, expect him to do even better than last year.
DeMar DeRozan is a very skilled young player who could be the next All-Star in a Raptors uniform. DeRozan broke out last year and he was only a sophomore. The 21-year-old out of USC is still very raw and most of his game is based on sheer athleticism.
DeRozan averaged 17.2 points per game last season and can only get better as he works on his game during the lockout. With all the basketball attention being directed at the various summer pro-am leagues, some people think DeRozan is just spending his time dunking on people in the Drew League, but in reality DD is a very hard worker who wants to be a star in this league and is being given the green light to score on the Raptors.
DeRozan has all of the intangibles you'd want from a young shooting guard, and the areas which he needs to improve on are very coachable ones. DeRozan is 6'7" which is an inch or two taller than the average guard, and he's very athletic. His biggest flaw is his shooting which is an area in which he won't ever be great at, but he can definitely be a decent jump shooter. His mid-range shot has already improved a lot, and in a year or two we'll start seeing him hit some threes.
Another thing which DeMar needs is strength. Like most young players, DeMar will need another year or so before he's physically ready to dominate.
With a new coach in Dwane Casey and the chances of a full-season lockout, the Raptors could have two very talented rookies on the team for 2012 (Valanciunas and possible lottery selection), and they also have loads of cap space which could be used to put that team over the top.
Jason Terry, also known as the Jet, is one of the best shooting guards in the league.
Terry has been the sixth man for this Dallas squad for years and he was a huge reason why Dallas won the title this year. Terry is a fearless competitor who only cares about winning. He's not very young or very tall, but his heart and swagger alone put him on this list.
This past season Terry was solid once again, averaging 15.8 points per game, shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from downtown. At 33 years of age, Terry did a fine job of staying healthy and on top of his game for all 82 regular-season games.
Before the season even started, Terry got a tattoo of the Larry O'Brien Trophy, and it was clear the regular season wasn't what Terry cared about; he wanted a ring. Then the postseason arrived and we saw Terry increase his scoring average to 17.5 points per game, increase his field-goal percentage to 47 percent and he shot a mind-boggling 45 percent from downtown.
After watching how the Mavericks made their storied title run, there's no denying Jason Terry is a top 10 shooting guard in the NBA.
The 2009-2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans was very silent last season. Evans had to deal with his nagging foot injuries all off last season (plantar fasciitis), and his averages took a dip as a result. Evans was still solid averaging 17.8 points per game, 5.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds. Evans' main problem was consistency and being healthy enough to play.
Evans is now feeling better, and there's no doubt in my mind that he'll pick up right where he left off two seasons ago. Evans is a superb player who can do a little bit of everything and score at will. He's a franchise player who is still only 21 years of age.
The Kings now have a lot more talent on the team, and the addition of Jimmer Fredette could help Tyreke Evans slide over to the 2-guard spot. Some may argue that the team has many ball-dominating players, but Evans is such a versatile player that I wouldn't be surprised if we see his assists average increase to accommodate the playing style of his teammates.
Overall, we're looking at a strong and athletic leader who has elite handles and is very a versatile scorer.
Joe Johnson has gotten a lot of heat over his performance as a "max" player, but even though he's digressed a little, he's till one of the top shooting guards in the game today.
Johnson averaged 18.2 points per game on 44 percent shooting. It was the first time Johnson failed to reach the 20-point plateau since joining the team in 2005, and fans are starting to realize how bad Johnson's contract can be to the team which will likely have to let its sixth man, Jamal Crawford, sign elsewhere due to financial restrictions.
Johnson's biggest setback last year was his three-point shooting. His shooting percentage from downtown decreased by seven percent, and some question if he will be able to produce in Larry Drew's system.
Overall, Johnson is still leading a 50-win team and has helped the team into the second round once again. Being a perennial second-round team isn't that bad in the NBA—where anything can happen (literally).
It hurts to put Kevin Martin all the way out here because he is truly underrated, but I had no choice.
Kevin Martin is one of the most offensively talented players in the league. At 6'7" and 185 pounds, the lightweight scorer can get to the line at will and score from the perimeter as well. Martin is criticized because he doesn't do anything else particularly well, but anyone who can score 23.5 points per game should still be credited for his hard work.
I think the biggest reason why players like Martin and Ellis aren't given recognition as elite players is because the teams which they've played on haven't been in the postseason in recent years. Surely the Rockets didn't miss the playoffs because of Martin, yet there's this theory that a scorer removed from the playoffs is, without a doubt, a black hole who hogs the ball.
I'm not saying there's no basis to the criticism scorers get, but sometimes it's overblown.
Some might argue Joe Johnson should be above Martin because he takes his team to the playoffs, but when I try to imagine the two players switching positions on their teams, the Hawks with Martin look better to me because he's younger and a better shooter.
Ray Allen is incredible. What he, the Celtics, Steve Nash and only a few others are doing right now is remarkable. It's one thing to see players in the twilights of their careers still competing, but when they're dominating in their respective positions, it's truly inspiring to see players work that hard for the ultimate goal.
Allen is one of the hardest workers and one of the leanest players in the league. The 36-year-old was deadly accurate last season making 49.1 percent of his shots from the field and draining 44 percent of his shots from downtown. Allen still produced like an All-Star, scoring 16.5 points per game on a contender with three other All-Stars on the team.
In the playoffs Allen increased his production, averaging 19 points, shooting 52.3 percent from the field and an unreal 57.1 percent from deep.
Ray Allen is a true warrior, and I'd love to see him win another ring before he retires.
Eric Gordon is one of the best scorers in the league and he's only 22 years of age. Gordon has improved every year in this league, but his biggest leap was last year after winning a gold medal with team U.S.A. in the FIBA World Championships (Turkey).
Last season Gordon started off the season a little inconsistent, but eventually started lighting it up for the Clippers. A wrist injury which forced him to miss 26 games derailed his breakout season, but next year there's no reason why Gordon won't be considered an All-Star.
Gordon has a lot ahead of him, and he and Blake Griffin could do great things for the Clippers.
Another scorer, another compromise. It was really hard keeping Monta Ellis out of the top three, but I will explain why later.
Monta Ellis is one of the most offensively gifted players in the league today. Ellis is only 6'3" which means he has difficulty guarding taller and stronger guards, but Ellis' offensive prowess is unquestionable.
The Warriors are a team which has been poorly built, and management is hoping to change that around. Ellis and Stephen Curry are two players who are very similar—both are scoring guards that make up for one of the weakest defensive backcourts in the league. Then if you consider defensive liabilities like David Lee and the entire Warriors bench (minus Udoh), it's not really fair to blame Ellis for not taking his team anywhere the last two years.
With a player like Ellis, the team has to put him in a defensive-minded lineup similar to how Chicago's team defence totally made Derrick Rose look like an elite defender himself. I'm not saying trade Ellis for Rose; I'm just saying he was in a bad situation. If the Iggy-for-Ellis swap does go down, it would really be beneficial for Ellis because that Philadelphia roster is full of athletic high-energy players who can mask his weaknesses.
Ellis is only 25 years of age and can very well lead the league in scoring someday if the right conditions are met. Regardless of if he does so or not, there's no denying Ellis is a player that can help many teams with his elite ability to score, so that's why he gets this spot.
Manu Ginobili is a stud. If D-Wade and Kobe Bryant had a European child who went back in time to play in the NBA, it'd be Manu Ginobili.
Ginobili plays with extraordinary recklessness and heart, and was clearly the best player on the top-seeded Spurs team last year. Ginobili can shoot with the best of them, and he can also get to the rim at will. He's got great handles and on defence he gets into the passing lanes and draws charges (you can call it flopping, it doesn't change anything).
Ginobili is 34 years old but didn't shown any signs of slowing down last year, playing all but two games of the regular season. With averages of 17.4 points per game, 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals, Ginobili has been very productive in only 30.3 minutes per game.
Even though the Spurs lost in the first round, we can't blame any of it on Ginobili, who was fearless and clutch. In the postseason, Ginobili's averages increased to 20.6 points and 2.6 steals per game. One could argue the Grizzlies were a matchup from hell, and that the Spurs could have won the title had they faced another team instead.
Overall, it's hard to keep Monta Ellis out of the the top three, but when you really consider what Ginobili and the Spurs did last season, it only makes sense to include Manu here.
I hate to do it, but Kobe Bryant is a slither below Dwyane Wade right now. Bryant was great last season averaging 25.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game on 45 percent shooting from the field. The next two slides could be debated heavily by fans, but these are the reasons as to why I've put them in this order:
Bryant is a better shooter than Wade because he shot 32.3 percent from downtown vs Wade's 30.6 percent (also shot better in the playoffs).
Kobe averaged fewer minutes per game (33.9 to Wade's 37.1). Had Kobe played Wade's minutes, he would have scored 27.7 points per game, which is significantly higher.
Kobe is the better free-throw shooter.
I think we're at the point where Kobe's age is finally catching up to him, and as amazing as he'll still be in the next two seasons, we just can't call him No. 1 when we're staring at a primed D-Wade.
Dwyane Wade was stellar last season, and played smothering defense throughout the year. Wade finished the season with averages of 25.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, one block and 1.5 steals per game. Here I will give my reasons for putting Wade higher than Kobe:
D-Wade played on a better team and still averaged more points than Kobe. Even though Kobe didn't receive as many minutes, one could argue that Kobe cannot handle heavy minutes without progressively wearing himself out before the playoffs.
Wade was more efficient from the field (50 percent to Kobe's 45 percent), and got to the line more (8.6 attempts to Kobe's 7.1).
Wade averaged more rebounds (6.4 to Kobe's 5.1) and blocks (one to Kobe's 0.1).
Had Kobe played Wade's minutes, he would have turned the ball over more (3.1 to Kobe's 3.3)
Wade averaged more points, rebounds, assists, blocks and a higher field-goal percentage during the playoffs (24.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.3 blocks and 48 percent from the field, to Kobe's 22.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.4 blocks and 44 percent from the field).