Where Reggie Miller Ranks Among Top Shooting Guards of All Time

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2012

Where Reggie Miller Ranks Among Top Shooting Guards of All Time

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    It's one thing to be hailed as one of the NBA's all-time great perimeter shooters—Reggie Miller was most certainly that.

    It's quite another, though, to suggest he's one of the very best all-around shooting guards, and Mark Jackson, current Golden State Warriors head coach and Miller's former teammate, is doing exactly that, according to the Indianapolis Star's Mike Wells.

    “When you take Michael Jordan and you take Kobe Bryant out of the discussion, he’s as good as any two-guard that has ever played the game,” Jackson said.

    Those years in the broadcast booth certainly primed Jackson for a career in hyperbole.

    But is there something to his sentiment? After all, hitting big shots and spreading the floor are important parts of the game. So what if he wasn't exactly a triple-double threat. 

    On the other hand, Miller has some stiff competition that Jackson leaves unmentioned. Let's take a look at where Reggie really stacks up among the best shooting guards in league history.

7. Reggie Miller—Indiana Pacers (1987-2005)

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    You could certainly make the argument that Clyde Drexler belongs a spot or two ahead of Reggie Miller, but they're more or less tied in my book.

    Drexler was the better all-around player on account of his ability to do more than score (e.g. rebound), but Miller was one of the best pure shooters this game will ever see. He made over 39 percent of his three-pointers, and that's saying something given that he took 4.7 of them per game.

    Miller never got his ring, but that probably shouldn't count against him. He didn't play with the kind of talent that most guys on this list were afforded.

    Instead, he made the most of his slight frame with an intelligent approach and a motor that never stopped. He might not be the best shooting guard of all time, but he was still pretty amazing.

6. Ray Allen—(1996-2012), Miami Heat (2012-Present)

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    There's really no other way to describe Ray Allen other than that he's been a slightly better version of Reggie Miller.

    He passed him up on the all-time three-pointers list, and his percentage from beyond the arc is slightly better. So too are his rebounding and assist numbers. In 16 years, Allen has managed to do a bit better than Miller did in 18, so it's pretty hard to make the case that Miller ranks higher.

    Of course, Ray Allen's decision to chase a ring with the Miami Heat will hurt his legacy a bit, especially because he already won one with the Boston Celtics.

    Despite being edged out in almost every comparison here, Miller will be the one known for his career-long commitment to the same team.

5. George Gervin—San Antonio Spurs (1974-85), Chicago Bulls (1985-86)

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    After a stint in the ABA, "The Iceman" George Gervin became one of the NBA's most unstoppable scorers thanks to his ability to shoot from all over the floor and attack the basket with his patented finger roll. 

    Gervin also got his points efficiently, leveraging his size at 6'7" to get good looks at the basket and score inside the paint.

    His 25.1 career points per game earned him nine trips to the NBA All-Star game, and he led the league in scoring four times, putting up as many as 33.1 points per game in 1979-80. Perhaps most importantly, Gervin made the game fun to watch and earned quite a few style points to go along with the ones that actually counted.

4. Dwyane Wade—Miami Heat (2003-Present)

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    In nine years, Dwyane Wade has already cemented himself as one of the all-time greats. Even before winning his second championship last season, Wade had established himself as one of the best slashers the league has ever seen.

    Wade's ability to create something out of nothing and finish in traffic distinguishes him from pure shooters, but his mid-range game has been pretty special too.

    The 6'4" guard's ability to rebound, distribute the ball and make an impact on the defensive end ultimately earn him the high spot on this list, though. For his career, he's averaged 25.2 points, five rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.8 steals and a block per contest.

    In other words, he's kept quite busy.

3. Jerry West—Los Angeles Lakers (1960-74)

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    While Jerry West played most of his career in the 1960s, you can't help but give him the nod here based on accomplishment alone.

    He made it to the NBA Finals nine times and averaged 27 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists over the course of his 14-year career.

    The perennial All-Star stood out as one of the first truly great perimeter superstars. His size and athleticism foreshadowed what we expect from star shooting guards today.

    How West would fare in today's league is anyone's guess. It's a safe bet that his competition would be far better, but we can't really hold that against him.

    Perhaps he would rise to the occasion.

    He always seemed to for the Lakers. 

2. Kobe Bryant—Los Angeles Lakers (1996-Present)

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    It won't get any easier for Kobe Bryant to surpass Jordan's greatness now that he's teamed with so many future Hall of Famers. In most people's minds, Bryant will be remembered as a legendary shooting guard who nevertheless needed dominant big men to win championships.

    You can't say the same about MJ.

    Of course, Bryant's legacy is otherwise safe and sound. And who knows? If he wins two or three more titles and finishes his career in style, maybe we'll one day be making the case that he was the best ever.

    For now, though, he's still the game's second-best shooting guard—pretty high praise. Kobe has dominated every facet of the game and proven capable of scoring the ball in just about any and every way it could be scored.

    Love him or hate him, you can't deny the talent, intelligence and drive.

1. Michael Jordan—Chicago Bulls (1984-93, 1995-98), Washington Wizards (2001-03)

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    Well, no surprises here.

    Yes, Michael Jordan is the best there ever was at any position, much less shooting guard. There's no sense in trying to deny that. Even if you're supremely convinced that Kobe Bryant is every bit the scorer (and he's isn't), you just can't argue the extent to which MJ excelled at everything else.

    Though he wasn't necessarily blessed with LeBron James' otherworldly physical tools, Jordan still used his remarkable athleticism to make an impact on the defensive end and grab plenty of rebounds for a guard.

    And he used his poise and intelligence to win six titles.

    It's all been said. He's still No. 1.

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