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Mark Gunnels’ Top-10 Shooting Guards in the NBA

Before I reveal my list, there is a few things that I must clarify. I’ve made this list based on who’s expected to play shooting guard this upcoming season. For example, Paul George played majority of the time at small forward this past season, but he’s expected to move back to shooting guard this year because of the Danny Granger return. On the flip side, Andre Iquodala played shooting guard in Denver, but is expected to be at small forward in Golden State since Klay Thompson is their starting 2-guard. Now it’s time to reveal the list:

10. Klay Thompson - Thompson emerged onto the national scene during the postseason. He averaged over 15 points a game on 42% shooting from distance. His great shooting ability is going to carry him throughout his career. His teammate Stephen Curry received a lot of the credit for the Warriors playoffs run, but Klay played a big part as well. On the defensive end he isn’t great, but he continues to work on it. We all know that head coach Mark Jackson won’t allow him to be suspect defensively. Once Thompson improves his ball handling and is able to create his own offense, the kid will be scary good.

9. Jamal Crawford - When you think about Crawford you’re likely to be reminded of his killer crossover or his ability to score in bunches. Just like J.R Smith, Crawford’s job is provide instant offense off the bench. He is more than capable of doing so. Crawford averaged over 16 points a game, but the reason he’s behind Smith is because scoring is the only way he impacts the game. He doesn’t crash the glass or look for others very often and his defense is non-existent.

8. J.R. Smith - The Sixth Man Of The Year had to fit somewhere on this list. Smith had the best regular season of his career. Averaging over 18 points to go along with 5 rebounds. Smith was the legit second scoring option behind Carmelo, but he disappeared in the playoffs. Only scoring 14.3 points a game and shot a miserable 33% from the field. His postseason performance was awful, but he’s showed the capabilities he has during the season.

7. O.J. Mayo - Mayo has potential to be even higher on this list within the next year or so. We all know that he can score in bunches, but his willingness to better himself defensively is what’s been impressive. He’s a lot better on that end than people realize. Mayo has a solid core and moves his feet very well. But more than anything, he competes. Defense is about dedication and hard work. He’s shown both of those qualities. Alluding back to his offense, Mayo displayed the ability to score at an efficient rate. He shot nearly 45% from the field and 40% from distance.

6. Monta Ellis - This guy just seems to always be placed on subpar teams. Ellis is very talented and skillful, but he can’t ever get on a legit contender. He has one of the quickest first steps in the game and he knows how to finish around the rim. Ellis is deadly in transition. One area of the game where he doesn’t get enough love at is passing. For the last three seasons he’s averaged 6 assists per game, which is great for a shooting guard. He doesn’t play much defense at all, but to be quite blunt there’s not that many great two-way players at this position in the NBA.

5. Joe Johnson - Cool Joy may be too cool for school, but there’s no denying his natural ability. Johnson makes scoring look effortless at times. It frustrates a lot of fans that he doesn’t live up to his full potential. As far as pure talent goes, nobody on this list is more gifted than Johnson. He’s 6-7 with handles of a point guard, smooth jumper, and naturally athletic. It just doesn’t seem that he has the will to win like a Kobe, Wade and etc. Johnson was bothered by injuries to his defense. This was his lowest scoring season since 2004. In the playoff series against Chicago he showed signs of being that go-to-guy in clutch situations. Maybe now since Brooklyn has more talent surrounding him, we’ll see a more determined Joe Johnson.

4. Dwyane Wade - Wade has always been right behind Kobe when it comes to shooting guards, but times have changed. Wade is still a prolific player, especially when healthy. It just doesn’t seem like Wade will ever be 100% again and that’s just the reality of the situation. Wade was amazing in the regular season, averaging 25, 5 and 5. Defensively he has taken a few steps backwards, however. He will still get you that highlight block on a big man every now and then, but throughout the course of a game it’s apparent that he lacks the lateral quickness to keep defenders in front of him consistently. He did step up when Miami absolutely needed him in the playoffs, but he wasn’t there all the time. If Wade could ever find a consistent outside jumper then he could very well be number two on this list. The flaw in his game is too much to ignore. Wade shot 25% from three this past season.

3. Paul George - There seems to be a myth about how tall Paul George really is. Most sites have him listed at 6-8, but some sources have speculated that he’s grew a couple of inches and is actually 6-10. No matter what you believe he’s still well above the average height for a 2-guard. It definitely doesn’t hurt that he’s very skilled on both ends of the floor. He’s able to post-up smaller defenders because of his size and now has an improved outside game, so you have to respect that as well. He shot 36% from distance while putting up over 17 points a game. George is already the best rebounding guard in the NBA. He averaged over 7 boards a game. His impact on defense may be even greater. He makes it difficult for oppositions to get off clean looks because he moves his feet so well and with all that length it’s hard to elevate over him. George finished on the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team. He also went to his first All-Star game and won Most Improved Player of the Year.

 2. James Harden- The Rockets made the playoffs this past season for the first time since 2009 and Harden was the main reason. We all knew Harden was a very good player, especially after winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 2012 while with Oklahoma City, but many didn’t know he was this good. After being traded to Houston, this was Harden’s chance to finally be the man. He took the opportunity and ran with it. Harden was selected to his first All-Star game and led Houston to the 8th seed in the West. They would eventually be knocked off by the Thunder in the first round, but the season was a step in the right direction. His versatility is what makes him great, he’s capable of playing point guard because of his good handle and superior court vision. Harden averaged 25.9 points, 5.8  assists, and 4.9 rebounds during his first season in Houston. Now that he has Dwight Howard to play with, expect big things in H-Town.

1. Kobe Bryant- The “Black Mamba” is still holding down the title as the best shooting guard in the world. The 15-time All-Star led all shooting guards last year in points per game at 27.3 while shooting an incredible 46.3% from the field. That marks his highest field goal percentage since the ’08-09 season. Bryant also tied his career high in assists per game with 6 while grabbing 5.6 rebounds a game. The 5-time NBA champion has shown that he’s capable of doing more than just scoring. His defense has fallen off through the years, but it’s still solid at best but his tremendous impact offensively offsets that. Kobe is still one of the top scorers in the world and has an unmatched competitive nature. It’ll be interesting to see how the Mamba bounces back after his Achilles tear.


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