NBA Player Power Rankings: B/R's Top 30 Shooting Guards at the Halfway Point

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2017

NBA Player Power Rankings: B/R's Top 30 Shooting Guards at the Halfway Point

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    Remember when the shooting guard position was in trouble? We don't.

    Even with Kobe Bryant retired, James Harden running the point for the Houston Rockets and Dwyane Wade no longer submitting MVP-caliber seasons, it's in great hands. Plenty of veterans are still thriving at the 2, and they're competing with up-and-comers such as C.J. McCollum and Bradley Beal for supremacy. 

    This is where you find some of the NBA's best shooters; it's home to a handful of defensive stoppers and a plethora of three-and-D contributors. 

    And some standouts can just do it all.

    By analyzing the work these players have already done in 2016-17, as well as their reputations from previous seasons and the expectations going forward, we're putting the top 30 shooting guards in order. The goal is to identify the players we'd most want to build around for the remainder of the campaign, so long-term upside and prowess in the distant past are irrelevant.

30. Ian Clark, Golden State Warriors

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 7.0 points, 1.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.9 PER, Minus-4.05 TPA, Minus-0.84 RPM

    It's not enough for the Golden State Warriors to boast the services of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Now, they also develop reserves into high-quality contributors. 

    Such is the case for Belmont product Ian Clark, who looks far more confident on offense than he did in 2015-16. Last year, he shot 44.1 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from downtown. This season, those numbers have risen to 51.4 and 40.8, respectively. Plus, he's improving while nearly doubling the number of attempts he's taking per game and almost halving his turnover rate.

    The fourth-year guard remains a defensive liability and doesn't offer much when his shot isn't falling. But those nights have come few and far between.   


    Honorable Mentions: Will Barton, Sean Kilpatrick, Iman Shumpert, Marcus Smart, Deron Williams

29. Courtney Lee, New York Knicks

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    Age: 31

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 10.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.3 blocks   

    Advanced Metrics: 10.9 PER, Minus-12.42 TPA, Minus-1.24 RPM

    Courtney Lee's season has been an enigma. 

    The veteran shooting guard hasn't thrived on defense for the New York Knicks, even though that's been his calling card in previous locations. NBA Math's defensive points saved (DPS) show he's been a distinct negative, and he has a similarly subpar score in's defensive real plus/minus (DRPM).

    Additionally, the Knicks have been slightly better at slowing down opponents when he's riding the pine. 

    Lee hasn't offered much in other areas either: He's not a deft distributor or rebounder, and he's shooting just 43.9 percent on his two-point attempts. 

    But no other qualified NBA player is connecting at a higher three-point clip than Lee's 46.3 percent, and that sniping ability opens up driving lanes for Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and the rest of the Knicks' more versatile offensive commodities. 

28. Garrett Temple, Sacramento Kings

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    Age: 30

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 7.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.5 blocks   

    Advanced Metrics: 12.1 PER, 14.77 TPA, 0.4 RPM


    Garrett Temple's name might not be sexyhe's a 30-year-old journeyman who has played for six different NBA organizations and spent a season in Italy. 

    But his return to the Sacramento Kings has proved fruitful. He's thrived off the bench, blossoming as a well-rounded offensive contributor while using his 6'6" frame successfully on defense. 

    This veteran's not a game-changing perimeter threat, and he won't rack up assists as a secondary distributor. You also don't want to trust him against the opposition's best wing for too long.

    But Temple does everything fairly well, and the overall product is valuable. According to NBA Math, he joins DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay as one of only three Sacramento players making above-average contributions on both ends. 

27. Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors

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    Age: 23

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 5.9 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 14.1 PER, Minus-1.89 TPA, 0.89 RPM

    Norman Powell's future has always involved thriving as a three-and-D contributor for the Toronto Raptors.

    But the future has become the present. 

    Powell plays defense fearlessly. He's willing to take on big matchups to ease DeMar DeRozan's burden, and his off-ball work allows him to wreak havoc in passing lanes.'s DRPM already lists Powell's as a top-10 defender at the position. 

    Though the sophomore 2-guard has regressed a bit from beyond the arc, he's still hitting a 37.3 percent clip. Toronto head coach Dwane Casey has limited his minutes more in recent weeks while the team enjoys perfect health on the wings and backcourt, and that's prevented Powell from finding a rhythm. 

    But his reputation will rise quickly as soon as he has more opportunities. The talent is obvious. 

26. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Age: 24

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 8.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 13.5 PER, Minus-22.48 TPA, 0.4 RPM

    "You talk about someone who wants to be good," Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd recently said about rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon, per USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt. "He works at his craft. You look at his basketball IQ. We trust him as a rookie offensive and defensively. He's taken the challenge to play at a high level, and we’re holding him accountable to that."

    Whether Brogdon is lining up at point guard or shooting guard, he's capable of contributing on both ends. And that's remarkable, given how much evolution it took for him to reach that point. 

    The 24-year-old never hit 40 percent of his triples during a four-year career at Virginia. Now, he's knocking down 41.3 percent while lofting up 2.2 tries per game. He's also avoiding typical rookie pitfalls—rampant turnover issues and poor positioning on defense, for example. 

    Brogdon can't take over a game like his more experienced counterparts, but his steadiness has already shattered the expectations that typically come with being drafted No. 36 overall. 

25. Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Age: 24

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 13.6 PER, Minus-28.98 TPA, 0.15 RPM

    Russell Westbrook has allowed the best version of Victor Oladipo to emerge. 

    The 24-year-old shooting guard's lessened offensive responsibility gives him more energy to spend on defense, and he can focus on minimizing the turnovers that occasionally hampered him with the Orlando Magic. He can also take more open triples than he ever has, finally growing into an asset from downtown. 

    During his three Orlando seasons, Oladipo took 3.4 three-point attempts per game and hit 33.9 percent of them. But during his first go-round with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he's launching 5.8 tries per contest and knocking down 37.6 percent. 

    Oladipo eventually needs to contribute in more areas while learning how to become a better mid-range finisher. But he's slid into his new role nicely, taking advantage of the luxury of playing next to Westbrook.

24. J.R. Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Age: 31

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 8.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 7.9 PER, Minus-3.66 TPA, Minus-0.53 RPM

    This ranking is more about what we know J.R. Smith can do than what he's done in 2016-17. 

    Before injuring his thumb and opting for surgery that should knock him out of the lineup until late March, Smith was in the midst of an atrocious shooting season. He'd made only 33.7 percent of his field-goal attempts and couldn't find the rhythm that made him so important to 2015-16's championship efforts. 

    But Smith has earned the benefit of the doubt. 

    Upon his return, he should develop into a floor-spacing threat who feasts on the easy opportunities Kyrie Irving and LeBron James create. Plus, he should resume his work as a legitimate defensive asset who can take on tough assignments and make the most of his enduring athleticism. 

23. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

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    Age: 20

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 19.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 12.9 PER, Minus-88.03 TPA, Minus-1.38 RPM

    "It's tough," Devin Booker told Bleacher Report about adjusting to extra defensive attention. "Usually, defenses are making it harder on me this year. They know about me this year.

    "At the same time, they're making me work when I'm on defense. Usually, I've got to chase a lot of players off a lot of screens. Wears me down a little bit. But that's just game schemes. Everyone does that in the NBA, and you want to get one of the scorers working on the defensive end, get him running."

    Booker may be scoring 19.2 points per game, but he's doing so while serving as a massive liability on the point-preventing end. He's also shooting just 40.9 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from downtown—numbers that fly in the face of the massive expectations with which he entered the year. 

    The 20-year-old will become an offensive stud one day, but a lack of offensive threats surrounding him slows down that process. Until he's not subjected to excessive amounts of defensive attention, he'll remain little more than an inefficient volume scorer. 

22. Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks

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    Age: 30

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 15.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 11.9 PER, Minus-7.52 TPA, 0.35 RPM

    There are a few skills Wesley Matthews hasn't recovered since the Achilles injury that ended his tenure with the Portland Trail Blazers almost two years ago. 

    Even as his perimeter shooting bounces back for the Dallas Mavericks, he's unable to elevate and hit mid-range looks. From between three and 10 feet, he's produced a 19.4 field-goal percentage, and that only rises to 38.6 percent from between 10 and 16 feet. 

    Unless he's finishing around the rim or launching from beyond the arc, he shouldn't be doing anything but passing. 

    Matthews has also had trouble reasserting himself as a plus defender. The mentality is there, but diminished lateral quickness has made it difficult for him to stay with sharpshooting guards who use screens to free themselves from his clutches. 

21. Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets

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    Age: 22

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 12.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.6 PER, 0.0 TPA, Minus-0.43 RPM

    So much of what Garry Harris does might not show up in the numbers. 

    Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone has called him the team's best perimeter defender, and the tougher assignments that go with that make Harris' preventing abilities look worse.

    On the other end, he serves as a security blanket for Emmanuel Mudiay and inspires his teammates to cut harder toward the basket. 

    Of course, statistics do cover some of Harris' abilities: He's shooting 38.2 percent from downtown, recording more assists than ever without a corresponding jump in turnovers and helping improve Denver's net rating by 2.3 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor.

    Plus, let's not forget he's just 22 years old, even if this is his third professional season. 

20. Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Age: 34 (turns 35 on Wednesday)

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 9.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.5 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 14.3 PER, 21.5 TPA, Minus-0.11 RPM

    Defense, defense, defense. 

    Tony Allen still can't shoot jumpers to save his life, and his finishing ability is starting to decline as Father Time saps the vaunted athleticism that previously mitigated his lack of touch. But he's maintained his excellence on the less glamorous end all the while. 

    The almost-35-year-old's defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) stands at 2.8, which is higher than his career average (2.2). He's No. 1 among shooting guards in's DRPM (1.93), and NBA Math puts him on pace to save 99.2 points on defense, which would be the No. 3 score of his career.

19. Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans

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    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 14.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.1 PER, 7.53 TPA, 0.96 RPM

    Jrue Holiday is finally healthy, and he's making the New Orleans Pelicans significantly better. 

    The 26-year-old has split time between running the point and operating at the 2 in smaller lineups that feature both him and Tim Frazier. He's excelled in both roles.

    Whether serving as a primary facilitator or working off the ball as a cutter, he's boosted the NOLA offense. His defense, however, has made an even bigger impact. 

    Holiday remains one of the NBA's better (and more underrated) perimeter stoppers, blessed with the quickness and strength (6'4", 205 lbs) to match up with most guards. And with other players handling the rock, he's focused more on that end than in previous seasons. 

    That's the primary reason the Pelicans' net rating has improved by 3.6 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor. 

18. Nick Young, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Age: 31

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 14.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.7 PER, 9.2 TPA, 1.05 RPM

    Rewind to last year, and Nick Young was on the verge of falling out of the league. He'd dropped out of the Purple and Gold's rotation and was widely viewed as an untradeable commodity, thanks to his antics and his putrid shooting numbers (33.9 percent from the field).

    But Young has been Luke Walton's primary reclamation project during his first season as the Los Angeles Lakers head coach, and Young has quickly emerged as one of the team's better players. 

    Young still doesn't offer much on defense—he's No. 84 among 98 shooting guards in's DRPM—but his jumper has returned. Playing with heretofore unseen confidence, he's hitting 42.9 percent of his triples while taking 6.9 per game. 

    Both of those numbers are career highs, with room to spare. 

17. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs

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    Age: 39

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 7.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.0 PER, 31.55 TPA, 1.72 RPM

    Sure, Manu Ginobili can't shoot from inside the arc anymore. But he's making up for that by taking more than half of his field-goal attempts from downtown while connecting at a 41 percent clip. 

    As always, the veteran 2-guard recognizes his own flaws and adjusts accordingly. It's why he's remained such an efficient player as he moves closer to his 40th birthday and spends more time on the San Antonio Spurs bench, exhorting his teammates as he patiently waits for his opportunity. 

    Ginobili has spent the 2016-17 campaign as an opportunistic defender who stays disciplined until the time is right for a quick gamble. As a result, he's having one of the best defensive seasons of his illustrious career.

    On offense, his creativity and his vision have trumped his declining athleticism. Despite his willingness to stay aggressive and force the issue in some half-court sets, he's not going to make many mistakes.

16. Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz

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    Age: 24

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 12.4 PER, Minus-26.17 TPA, 0.8 RPM


    This hasn't been the breakout season the Utah Jazz eagerly anticipated from Rodney Hood.

    Injuries have held him back at various points, but he's still only produced a 40.6 field-goal percentage while making a meager 33.7 percent of his shots from long range. He's also moved in the wrong direction as a facilitator and hasn't become a dominant defender. 

    The breakout still feels like it could be coming nonetheless, and Hood's presence—even while he struggles—has helped the Jazz. Their net rating jumps by 2.6 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, though playing with the starters offers a set of confounding factors. 

    So long as he remains a defensive asset and improves as a shooter—which, based on his pedigree, he should—he'll only become more valuable as the year progresses and he settles into a rhythm. 

15. Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic

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    Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.0 PER, Minus-13.5 TPA, Minus-1.01 RPM

    Evan Fournier has picked up where he left off. 

    The French swingman isn't dominant in any one offensive area. He's not going to torment teams with his three-point stroke or his driving ability, and opponents can get away with leaving him open as a spot-up marksman or dropping back after he runs a pick-and-roll. 

    But Fournier is good in just about every facet of the scoring game, and that all-around solidity allows him to throw up some impressive numbers. Averaging 17.5 points with a 56 true shooting percentage isn't easy. If it were, more than 30 qualified players would be doing so. 

    The above-average play extends to rebounding and facilitating but not defense. That's the one drawback to handing Fournier major minutes: You have to accept he'll allow an opposing wing to produce while he's also racking up points. 

14. Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics

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    Age: 26

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.0 PER, 2.45 TPA, Minus-1.35 RPM

    Avery Bradley has always been a hounding presence on defense, and he's still willing to pick up ball-handlers well before they can initiate offensive sets.

    But he hasn't been as effective this year.'s DRPM places him as the No. 87 defender among 98 listed shooting guards, and NBA Math's DPS also indicates he's a negative on defense. Plus, his matchups shoot better than normal when he guards them, and the Boston Celtics' defensive rating is far better without him on the floor. Even if that doesn't always mesh with the eye test, it's concerning. 

    At least Boston can lean on him for offense now, which mitigates the impact of his declining defensive value. Head coach Brad Stevens can't possibly complain about Bradley's shooting 41.7 percent from three-point territory.

    Ditto for averaging seven boards per game as a 6'2" guard.

13. J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Age: 32

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 15.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.4 PER, Minus-6.11 TPA, Minus-0.8 RPM

    J.J. Redick will never be an elite defensive presence, and the Los Angeles Clippers rarely want him handling the rock. 

    But as long as he can provide enough gravitational pull to warp the defense in his direction, he'll remain valuable. Whenever spotting up on the perimeter, Redick demands so much of the opposition's attention that it makes life far easier for Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and the rest of the Clippers. The same is true when he's navigating through screens and waiting for his opportunity.

    That attention is warranted: He's shooting 44.1 percent from downtown and scoring 1.19 points per possessions in spot-up situations, which leaves him in the 87.3 percentile.

    Defenders simply can't leave Redick open; it's tough enough to stop him from scoring when he's tightly guarded.

12. Patrick Beverley, Houston Rockets

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    Age: 28

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 9.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 14.8 PER, 61.56 TPA, 2.23 RPM

    Patrick Beverley has become so much more than an agitator for the Houston Rockets.

    "He's a warrior, man," James Harden told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle about Beverley, who's still getting treatments on his sprained right wrist. "I know most of these guys in this league if they feel any pain, they sit out. But he's a different guy. He's key to our success."

    Pain isn't stopping Beverley, and neither is a shift to shooting guard. Though he'd never before logged more time at the 2 than the 1, 63 percent of his minutes are coming at the bigger position as Harden transitions to full-time point guard.

    But no matter where he lines up, Beverley has filled the same role: He's a dominant defender who should earn marginal consideration for Defensive Player of the Year, and he thrives as a spot-up shooter. Now, he's better than ever as he hits 41.6 percent of his triples. 

11. Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Age: 21

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 20.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.2 PER, 13.56 TPA, Minus-1.21 RPM

    Few sights across the NBA are more beautiful than Zach LaVine funneling his eye-popping athleticism into a flawless jump-shooting form. He rises high into the air for a lofty launch point that renders defenders irrelevant, and his wrist flicks in perfect fashion. 

    Of course, LaVine finding himself alone on a fast break for a high-flying, thunder slam also makes you remember why he's the dunk contest champion. 

    With that inside-out combination and an ability to play on or off the ball, LaVine has developed into a devastating offensive player, scoring 20.4 points per game while shooting 46.8 percent from the field, 40.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.7 percent from the charity stripe. 

    If he wasn't one of the NBA's worst defenders, his offense would give him a legitimate chance to emerge as a top-five shooting guard. 

10. Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

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    Age: 28

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 17.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.5 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.1 PER, 4.89 TPA, 1.6 RPM

    As Kristian Winfield explained for SB Nation, Eric Gordon is finally hitting the levels he was once expected to reach:

    Gordon’s [17.8] points are the best he’s averaged since 2011. We’re in January and he’s yet to play less than 24 minutes, let alone miss a game. He’s cashing in on more three-pointers than anyone else in the NBA, and he looks like the same EJ who took the Big Ten by storm and was on an upward trajectory to stardom.

    Gordon’s 28 years old now, enjoying a prime delayed by injury. And the Rockets are enjoying it right with him.

    The veteran 2-guard has proved a perfect fit for head coach Mike D'Antoni's pace-and-space offense, and he's shooting the lights out. Gordon has still made more triples than anyone else in the league, and he's on pace to drain 305 by the end of the season. 

    Lest we forget, nobody in NBA history—other than Stephen Curry—has made more than 280 in a single campaign.

9. Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs

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    Age: 29

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 7.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.6 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 12.1 PER, 49.7 TPA, 2.57 RPM

    Take a peek at Danny Green's last five seasons, and see if you can find the fluky year: 

    Season3PA Per Game3P%

    Green's shot was inexplicably awry last season, but he's bounced back (and then some) in 2016-17.

    All of a sudden, he's back to looking like a two-way stud for the San Antonio Spurs, even if he doesn't play enough to keep pace with the eight 2-guards ranked ahead of him. 

8. Nicolas Batum, Charlotte Hornets

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    Age: 28

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 16.2 PER, 58.61 TPA, 2.4 RPM

    Even though Nicolas Batum's ability to rain down jumpers has all but disappeared, his versatility has allowed him to remain a valuable all-around presence for the Charlotte Hornets.

    Averaging 15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.4 blocks is nothing to sniff at. In fact, that's a line that, prior to this season, only nine qualified players in all of NBA history had ever achieved:

    • Larry Bird (nine times)
    • Clyde Drexler
    • Kevin Garnett
    • Grant Hill (three times)
    • LeBron James (seven times)
    • Magic Johnson (four times)
    • Michael Jordan
    • Fat Lever (four times)
    • Scottie Pippen (twice)

    As if that's not enough, Batum is also playing high-level defense. 

    If he could figure out his three-point stroke...

7. Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bulls

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    Age: 34

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 18.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 19.5 PER, 31.39 TPA, 0.97 RPM

    Dwyane Wade's early-season success from long range was always too good to be true. He took 3.5 triples per game during his first 14 and hit them at a 38.8 percent clip. Since then, he's attempted 2.5 per contest and earned a 28.8 three-point percentage. 

    But the veteran has asserted himself in other areas. 

    After spending his last few years as a defensive liability with the Miami Heat, he's looked far more motivated. He hasn't been a lockdown defender for the Chicago Bulls, but he's at least held his own in most situations. 

    He's also thrived as a distributor who can create his own shots when the need arises. Somehow, defenders are still falling for the devastating pump fake he's used to such great success throughout his Hall of Fame career. 

6. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons

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    Age: 23

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 14.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 14.9 PER, 63.6 TPA, 2.75 RPM

    This is the version of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who excited scouts even while he was producing mediocre shooting percentages for the Georgia Bulldogs.

    His form indicated he could be a much better three-point shooter when placed in the right system and not greeted with constant double-teams. It took awhile for Caldwell-Pope to develop after the Detroit Pistons selected him with the No. 8 pick of the 2013 NBA draft, but he's blossoming into a three-and-D standout who can also provide his fair share of assists. 

    It's tough enough to play above-average defense while making at least 39 percent of your triples; Caldwell-Pope is one of just 12 qualified players this year to do so (with defense measured by DBPM). But how many of those dozen have also registered an assist percentage north of 13?

    The 23-year-old is one of just eight.

5. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

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    Age: 23

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 22.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.3 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 19.6 PER, 28.8 TPA, 2.31 RPM

    It's no coincidence Bradley Beal's offensive surge came at the same time as his decision to spurn long twos. 

    Last year, 31.8 percent of his field-goal attempts were two-pointers from beyond 10 feet. He's now taking only 24.9 percent of his shots from that area while also cutting back on tries from between three and 10 feet. Instead, he's taking additional triples and attacking the basket more frequently. 

    Beal isn't just suddenly averaging a career-high 22.2 points per game; he's posting those monstrous numbers with a 58.4 true shooting percentage, which is easily the top mark of his tenure with the Washington Wizards. 

    If he could only play better defense. That's all that's preventing him from rising into real competition for a top-three spot.

4. C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Age: 25

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 23.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 20.8 PER, 38.57 TPA, 1.27 RPM

    "I thought he played like an All-Star," Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee said after C.J. McCollum opened 2017 with a 43-point performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves, per The Oregonian's Mike Richman. "Hashtag NBA Vote."

    That wasn't just a one-off outing for McCollum, even if it remains his career high

    During his last 10 games, the 25-year-old has averaged a scorching 28.3 points and 4.5 assists while shooting 48.9 percent from the field. He's showing the full extent of his offensive capabilities by thriving off the bounce, drilling clutch shots and still finding time to involve his teammates. 

    Defense remains a huge flaw, and—just as is the case for Bradley Beal—it's the only thing preventing him from rising higher in the rankings. But even as a one-way asset, McCollum has been a stud. 

3. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

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    Brian Sevald/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 21.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 15.7 PER, Minus-30.1 TPA, 1.35 RPM

    Klay Thompson's defense remains an enigma. 

    Though he often passes the eye test with a penchant for guarding the opposition's strongest wing or guard, no advanced metrics will agree.'s DRPM ranks him as the No. 63 defensive 2-guard, directly between Bryn Forbes and E'Twaun Moore. NBA Math's DPS has him as one of the league's 10 least valuable defenders, regardless of position. This time, he's sandwiched between Lou Williams and Eric Gordon. 

    But regardless of how you assess his defense, his offense is indisputably excellent. 

    Thompson hasn't taken as many threes in 2016-17 (7.8 per game) as he did during the 73-win campaign (8.1), and his accuracy levels have dipped as he adjusts to a (marginally) diminished role created by Kevin Durant's replacement of Harrison Barnes.

    He's still one of the Association's deadliest snipers, however, as well as a player Golden State can typically count on for at least 20 points per game. 

2. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 27.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 24.7 PER, 18.33 TPA, 0.8 RPM

    "He breaks the analytical mold when it comes to his type of scoring," Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said about DeMar DeRozan earlier this season. 

    To be clear, no quality analytic minds would argue against all mid-range shots. Instead, they'd note the increased efficiency that goes along with layups and three-point jumpers—if you can make mid-range jumpers, you should take them. 

    And DeRozan can make them better than ever this season:

      FG% from 3-10 Feet FG% from 10-16 Feet FG% From 16-23 Feet
    Pre-2016 Career Average42.840.737.8

    Throw in improvements around the basket, and you have a player who's morphed from an offensive weapon into a juggernaut. 

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Ned Dishman/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 24.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.9 steals, 2.1 blocks

    Advanced Metrics: 28.4 PER, 246.05 TPA, 6.6 RPM

    The only explanation that should be required here is why Giannis Antetokounmpo qualifies as a shooting guard. 

    Throughout the season, the Milwaukee Bucks have played him at various spots in the lineup. They've done everything from bringing in power forwards to spell him and letting him run the point while guarding opposing 3s. But shows 65 percent of his minutes have come as a shooting guard, and that settles the debate—for our purposes, at least. 

    Antetokounmpo been incredible no matter where he has lined up. You could make a convincing argument he's been the best player in the Eastern Conference this season, regardless of position. 

    Even though he's an inconsistent shooter from the perimeter, the 22-year-old has thrived as a scorer with his long arms, lanky strides and penchant for attacking the basket. He's racked up rebounds and assists while playing under control. And he's still found time to excel on defense, shutting down one opponent after another with his ridiculous physical tools. 

    Antetokounmpo isn't just No. 1 in these rankings; he's taking the top slot by a significant margin. 

    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats from, or NBA Math and accurate heading into Tuesday's games. Positional designations determined by's minute splits at the end of 2016. Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.    


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