Superstar Shooters: The Five Best Shooting Guards Of The 2010-11 Season

Hamlet AbayaCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2010

Superstar Shooters: The Five Best Shooting Guards Of The 2010-11 Season

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    NBA basketball history can be very broadly and generally categorized into two distinct eras: the era of the big man, and the era of the skilled wing.  In other words, they can be split into the pre-Jordan era, and the post-Jordan era. 

    Arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan changed the landscape of the NBA and basketball with his dynamic play, clutch shooting, and all-around ability.  But more than that, he changed the glamour position in the NBA, and his legacy can be seen today as the NBA puts less emphasis on big men and more on skilled wing players. 

    Whereas 'Magic' Johnson and Larry Bird took the torch from the last of the great big men of an era long gone, Jordan took that torch and ran further with it than anyone in his generation, making the NBA what it is today. 

    Jordan was the first person who truly blazed his own path as a skilled wing player, paving the way for other skilled wing players like Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, and Tracy McGrady.  They each took their turn as "the next Michael Jordan," but would all ultimately fall short. 

    But falling just short of Jordan's legacy and ability is nothing to be ashamed of.  He is, after all, the greatest of all-time.  And he has definitely opened the door to other talented young men, who continue to shine as top shooting guards in a league once dominated by big men. 

Honorable Mentions

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    Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
    Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

    The shooting guard position has become the premier position in the NBA today.  There are many worthy candidates who could arguably fit the bill as some of the best point guards in the league, but when it comes down to it, some very talented individuals will just fall short. 

    A midseason trade acquisition by the Rockets last season, Kevin Martin averaged a healthy 20.6 points on a 41.7 FG percentage and a 87.7 FT percentage.  He only started to understand the Rockets offense, and did not have the benefit of Yao Ming in the middle to soak up defenses.  He should be better next year, but only time will tell how well he ends up playing.  

    Another relatively young shooting guard, O.J. Mayo averaged 17.5 points as the third option on a young and very talented Grizzlies team.  A highly regarded young man out of USC, Mayo has proven to be a revelation, and will no doubt continue to improve.  But as of right now, his primary contribution is scoring, and until he can do more for his team, he cannot truly be one of the best SGs in the NBA. 

    A little on the older side, Ray Allen has seen a very noticeable slow down in his production and importance on a rapidly aging Celtic team.  He still scores at an efficient rate, with 16.3 points on a 47.7 field goal percentage, 36.3 three-point percentage and a 91.3 free throw percentage.  But his age is going to catch up to him sooner rather than later, and this upcoming season could be when he stops being one of the best.

    Joe Johnson's season will be an interesting one.  He is the primary scoring option, and the undoubted leader of an otherwise young Hawks team.  He averaged a very impressive 21.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists last season and was rewarded with a maximum six-year $119 million contract.  There is little doubt that he will be good next year, but after being rewarded with so much guaranteed money, he has very little motivation to keep playing well and excel. 

    These players could surprise everyone with absolutely amazing seasons this upcoming season, and it should surprise no one if that happened.  But there are five players who are just more impressive standing in front of these five. 

5. Tyreke Evans

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    2009-10 NBA Season Statistics:

    20.1 ppg, 45.8 FG percentage, 25.5 three-point percentage, 74.8 FT percentage, 5.8 apg, 5.3 rpg, 1.5 spg.

    Another product of John Calipari's mentoring and molding, last season's Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans took the NBA by storm and became the de facto franchise player for the Sacramento Kings.  

    Like his predecessor in Derrick Rose for the Bulls, Evans turned out to be a real revelation for the Kings.  It didn't take long for the University of Memphis alum to prove his ability and worth.  In fact, he played so well from the beginning of the NBA season that he even pushed out former first choice and franchise player Kevin Martin. 

    Now with a full offseason without Martin and with the addition of Carl Landry, the Kings should get better from last year.  But the difference this time is that Evans will be the first option from the get-go, and will no doubt thrive in that role. 

    Although he still has a few holes to fill—also like Rose, he has an inconsistent jumper—he is still only 20 years- ld and has a lot of untapped potential.  He may have to wait a few more years for certain other players to retire or see their skills diminish before he truly steps up to be the best, but at 6'6" and 220 lbs., he has all the physical tools to do so, and can only get better from this point. 

    Ultimately, he was already producing so much as a rookie, and still has so much upside to his game that there is no reason to doubt that he can rise up to become a legitimate NBA superstar.  

4. Monta Ellis

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 03:  Monta Ellis #8 of the Golden State Warriors drives against Shane Battier #31 of the Houston Rockets during an NBA game at Oracle Arena on December 3, 2009 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and ag
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    2009-10 NBA Season Statistics:

    25.5 ppg, 44.9 FG, 33.8 three-point percentage, 75.3 FT, 5.3 apg, 4.0 rpg, 2.2 spg.

    During the 2008 offseason, it was revealed that Monta Ellis had injured himself in a low-speed moped accident and was subsequently suspended for 30 games by the Warriors—the same amount of time Ellis was projected to be out injured.  In fact, the Warriors kept the option to void his contract if his recovery ended up unsuccessful. 

    But the good news for the Warriors and NBA fans all over is that 6'3" Ellis did in fact recover from his injury with a vengeance and really produced the following year, averaging 25.5 points per game, 5.3 assists per game, and four rebounds per game as an undersized 2 guard after relinquishing the point to Stephen Curry. 

    Still only 24-years-old, Ellis is a scoring machine, and was one of the league leaders in scoring, albeit with a very fast-paced team.  He is able to take defenders off the dribble, shoot from virtually anywhere past half court, and has very quick hands. 

    If anything, his only real weakness is one that plagues his team in general: defense.  The Warriors and Ellis, in particular, are terrible defenders but that is probably down to the team's general style and coaching.  

    But ultimately, that weakness is what keeps Ellis away from the truly elite shooting guards in the league.  If he can manage to learn to play solid man-to-man defense, and really focus on improving his team, he can become a superstar.  But until then, he will have to settle for slightly less than the best, which isn't bad at all.   

3. Brandon Roy

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 24:  Guard Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles the ball past Shane Battier #31 of the Houston Rockets in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on April 24, 2009 i
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2009-10 NBA Season Statistics:

    21.5 ppg, 47.3 FG, 33.0 three-point percentage, 78.0 FT, 4.7 apg, 4.4 rpg, 0.9 spg.

    After the Rockets-Blazers series from 2008-07, Ron Artest said that "Brandon Roy is the best player I played against outside of the guy from my hood."

    He may have been exaggerating a little bit, but his point was well-taken.  Brandon Roy is one of the best players in the NBA and a legitimate NBA superstar. 

    Blessed with a great physique, at 6'6" and 210 lbs, Roy is the perfect physical specimen for an NBA body.  He is too big and too strong for most other shooting guards in the league, and too quick for most bigger men.  It's no surprise at all that he was able to give Artest fits during that six-game series. 

    This University Washington alum stayed in school for four years before turning professional, and it definitely shows.  He is calm under pressure and has a diverse skill set, which he developed under Lorenzo Romar.  Averaging 21.5 points on 47.3 percent field goal percentage, 33 percent from three-point range, and 78 percent from the free throw stripe, Roy can shoot from anywhere, off-balance, being hacked, and with either hand. 

    And with both Blazers big men, Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, due to return this upcoming season, Roy should have an easier load with a legitimate center as a deterrent in front of the rim.  Already an efficient scorer, their presence will only move defenses away from him, allowing him to run havoc against opposing teams.   

    He has already registered three All-Star appearances, and has been voted onto the All-NBA second team and third team once each, and at 26, he can probably count on being an All-Star for many years to come. 

2. Dwyane Wade

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    2009-10 NBA Season Statistics:

    26.6 ppg, 47.6 FG,  30.0 three-point percentage, 76.1 FT, 6.6 apg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 spg.

    This offseason was all about the Miami Heat.  Or rather, it was all about LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.  And it was for good reason. 

    At 28 years old, the 6'4" Wade has already experienced a debilitating injury that sidelined him for a big chunk of a season.  Luckily for NBA fans, the Miami Heat, and the U.S. Olympic Team, he came back from that injury faster, stronger, and much more effective than before, averaging 30.2 points during the 2008-09 season.  

    This upcoming season, Wade will no longer be the top dog in Miami.  He will just be one of the Miami Heat "Big Three," and though his overall numbers are probably going to fall, he will undoubtedly benefit from the increased attention that James and Bosh will draw.

    But for a career 25.4 point scorer, averaging less than 26.6 points off a 47.6 field goal percentage won't be too bad, especially if he becomes more efficient because of it, with defenses splitting their attention between him, James, and Bosh.

    With one championship ring already secured, Wade joined forces with the other two marquee free agents this past offseason to create a legacy for himself and chase many more championships.  With all three in the prime of their lives, that could very well be a possibility. 

    He is already an NBA champion, an Olympic champion, and has secured his legacy as one of the best players in this era.  If he wins many more championships and accolades, he could be in the conversation as one of the best shooting guards in history. 

1. Kobe Bryant

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 05:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots in front of Shane Battier #31 of the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on January 5, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees tha
    Harry How/Getty Images

    2009-10 NBA Season Statistics:

    27.0 ppg, 45.5 FG, 32.9 three-point percentage, 81.1 FT, 4.7 apg, 5.3 rpg, 1.5 spg.

    At 32 years old, 6'6" Kobe Bryant is no longer a young gun, but not yet in the twilight of his career.  He may be past his prime, but he is still arguably the best player in the NBA today. 

    After 14 years in the NBA, what hasn't he done? 

    Over the course of his career, he has set scoring records, and even led the league in scoring twice.  He has won five rings, been named MVP once, NBA Finals MVP twice, is a 12-time All-Star, with eight All-NBA first team, two-time All-NBA second team, two-time All-NBA third team, and eight-time All-Defensive team, and two-time All-Defensive second team appearances.

    Although he can no longer score 81 points a night, or regularly contribute 40 to 50 points a game, he is still one of, if not the best player in the NBA.
    In fact, his exploits and achievements put him easily in the top 10 NBA players of all-time, if not the top five. 

    These days, the conversation surrounding Bryant's legacy is no longer a comparison between him and Shaquille O'Neal, but rather where he ranks among the greatest players of all time, with some fans even considering him better than the great Michael Jordan. 

    Regardless of how one would rank him against Jordan, it is a testament to his greatness and amazing career that he is even in the conversation.  Even though he is nursing a damaged finger and a bum knee, Bryant will still be the best shooting guard in the NBA this upcoming season, and arguably the best player in the league.