Top 10 Shooting Guards in the NBA Today

Previous Top 10 Lists:  

Top 10 Centers in the NBA

Top 10 Power Forwards in the NBA

Top 10 Small Forwards in the NBA

The shooting guard position is one of the more confusing ones to analyze. With Kobe and Wade now aging, there aren’t too many shooting guards that we would categorize as “elite”. The problem is that there are many shooting guards that are right around that 10th spot. Joe Johnson, Kevin Martin, and J.J. Redick are three names that I left off my list to my own surprise. While the SG position is definitely the weakest position in terms of top tier, this position continues to gain depth with some of the top players coming onto the NBA stage in a big way and forcing us to place them in the “elite” echelon.

Criteria:

Today, I will be looking at who I believe are the 10 best shooting guards in the NBA today. I will be assuming that all players are healthy now, but the risk of re-injury is still relevant in the rankings. Performance in the past couple of years is somewhat important for some of the older shooting guards, but this year’s performance is most important.

Here is my list of the Top 10 best shooting guards in the NBA today:

10. Khris Middleton

I was shocked to find Khris Middleton on this list, but there truly is no denying this man’s improvements over the course of the year. He has been deadly late in the game for Milwaukee and has proven that he is not a player to be reckoned with. Many will question why I decided to put Middleton over Beal at 10, so I’ll try to explain why.

Bradley Beal just hasn’t been himself this year. After missing a huge bulk of games to start the season, Beal hasn’t been able to return to the form he had in the prior season, especially in the playoffs. Let’s take a look at an in depth comparison between the two:

khris middleton v bradley beal comparison

The most important stats from above, in my opinion, are the true shooting percentage and the effective field goal %. In both of those categories, Middleton leads by around 5%. If I am looking at the shooting guard position, the most important stats are the shooting numbers.

To take a step back from the advanced metrics and just look at the general stats, Beal had a 42.7% FG% this year which is weak in comparison to Middleton’s 46.7 mark. Khris Middleton has come into his own this year and has proved to me that he should be on the top 10 shooting guard list. For now, I have him at #10.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
30.1 13.4 4.4 2.3 0.1 1.5 0.467 0.407 0.859

9. Wesley Matthews

Oh what a shame it was to hear that we wouldn’t see Wesley Matthews in the playoffs once again this year. Last year, we were blessed with the spectacle that Matthews put on for us on the defensive side of the ball going up against one of the best offensive threats we have in the league today, James Harden. In that series, Harden shot 37.6% from the field and 29.6% from 3PT range. Good work Wesley.

During the regular season, Matthews continued his dominance defensively on the perimeter:

wes matthews defensive advanced stats

The important column to look at here is the one on the far right. It compares the season FG% average by distance of the player Matthews guards to the FG% that Matthews actually lets up. As you can see, at each distance, Matthews makes his opponent shoot worse than they usually do. Wes just knows how to get people out of their rhythm.

Matthews also has the shooting ability. He finished 9th in the NBA this year in 3 pointers made having missed 22 games as well. He was tied for 3rd in the NBA in 3-pointers made per game with Kyle Korver at 2.9.

It truly is disappointing that we didn’t get to see Matthews in the playoffs again to see how much he would have improved with the increased confidence he would have assuredly gained from last year’s fantastic showing. Wes is arguably a top 5 perimeter defender in the NBA, but there is no doubt that he is a top 10 shooting guard.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
33.7 15.9 3.7 2.3 0.2 1.3 0.448 0.389 0.752

8. DeMar DeRozan

DeRozanDeMar DeRozan’s placement at #8 on this list is indicative of what he has done in the past, not for what he has done this year. DeRozan is a terrific player and scorer, don’t get me wrong, but his shooting and efficiency numbers are just not where they should be.

This was the 2nd straight year that DeRozan eclipsed the mark of 20 ppg and congrats to him for that. Last year he averaged right over 22 ppg, but shot only 43% from the field. Not bad, but we all said we would like the percentage to go up. That’s not what happened. DeRozan’s FG% dropped to 41.3% while his 3PT% also took a significant dip from 30.5% to 28.4%. Just not what you want to see.

To be fair to DeRozan, he is responsible for taking a good amount of tough shots late in the shot clock to bail out the Raptors in a failed possession.

For those who doubt that DeRozan is a true shooting guard instead of a small forward, the following stats prove that DeMar is more suitable and comfortable at the shooting guard position:

derozan sf-sg numbers

One thing is for sure, though. DeMar DeRozan is a fantastic offensive player who will be the starting shooting guard for the Toronto Raptors for the foreseeable future.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
35 20.1 4.6 3.5 0.2 1.2 0.413 0.284 0.832

7. Kyle Korver

Kyle Korver was the best spot up 3-point shooter in the NBA this year, and it wasn’t close. When we say, “Don’t give that man an inch of space, because he’ll hit it in your face”, we are talking about Kyle Korver:

Korver’s a 6’7 shooting guard running around picks and shooting off of them like he’s 6’2. He is a dangerous man from deep and was the best shooter in the NBA this year:

kyle korver 2014-2015 nba shooting rankings

An amazing season for Korver who has found a career for himself in Atlanta. It seems as though the best is still to come for the 11-year NBA veteran.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
32.2 12.1 4.1 2.6 0.6 0.7 0.487 0.492 0.898

6. Monta Ellis

monta ellis

One of the quickest players in the NBA today is Monta Ellis, and Russell Westbrook might be the only player who can get to the basket quicker. Ellis has an incredible ability to finish around the rim:

Here he uses a spin move to get the defender on his back. It is a joy to watch undersized players like Ellis use such a various array of moves to finish over or around the defender.

Monta Ellis is also a very capable shooter, especially in crunch time. Monta Ellis shot 44.6% from the field in the last 5 minutes of the game when the game was within 5 points either way. The 44.6% is good for 3rd in the NBA out of qualified players who had at least 2 FGA in that time span with only Mike Conley and John Wall having a higher percentage.

Ellis is an incredible athlete and ball player, but his legacy will depend on his decision this summer. If he decides to stay in Dallas or go to another city with an exceptional coach, like San Antonio, he might very well climb into the elite status. Ellis needs a good coach to help put himself in the right offensive set, unlike the one ran in Milwaukee.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
33.7 18.9 2.4 4.1 0.3 1.9 0.445 0.285 0.752

5. Kobe Bryant

I personally hate seeing this. Kobe Bryant does not deserve WHATSOEVER to be #5 on this list, but age and recurring injuries have unfortunately caught up to him making the 5th spot the suitable ranking.

Kobe’s ability to hit the tough shot, even at his age, still makes him an elite scorer in the league. Just watch what he did with a torn rotator cuff:

It’s just incredible what this man can do. Sure, he hasn’t shot the ball too well this year, but the aggression and intensity that he possesses is not able to be taught. Even with the injury issues and the years that he has on him, Kobe Bryant is still one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
34.5 22.3 5.7 5.6 0.2 1.3 0.373 0.293 0.813

4. Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade, like Kobe Bryant, will always be considered one of the greatest at the SG position, but is not as high on this list as he should be because of injury issues.

The difference between Wade and Bryant, though, is that Dwyane Wade actually is still producing at a high rate. Just look at his numbers for this past December:

dwyane wade december 2014 numbers

Wade still has some All-Star years ahead of him. It’s odd to see an NBA Playoffs without him, especially with Miami in the weak Eastern Conference, but that’s exactly what happened this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what Wade can do with a full year next season. If he plays the way we all know he is capable of playing, then we might just see Wade crack the top 3 shooting guards list, but for now he sits at #4.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
31.8 21.5 3.5 4.8 0.3 1.2 0.47 0.284 0.768

3. Jimmy Butler

The 2014-2015 NBA Most Improved player comes in at #3 on my list. Jimmy Butler had already proven to us that he was an exceptional defender, but this year we saw the true potential from Butler come to life.

Jimmy Butler improved in almost every statistical category in route to his 1st All-Star appearance.

One problem for Butler is the heavy minutes that he is tasked with in Thibodeau’s system (we all know Thibodeau’s continued insistence on playing his stars an obscene amount of minutes). The last two seasons, Jimmy Butler has averaged 38.7 minutes per game. Will he be too fatigued to defend LeBron james throughout the entirety of this series? Only time will tell, but if anyone can do it with the skills they possess, it’s Jimmy Butler.

Jimmy Butler is one of the more consistent guards we have in the league. Butler will continue to improve as he gets more experience in the league and will soon be considered one of the best all around players in the NBA.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
38.7 20 5.8 3.3 0.6 1.8 0.462 0.378 0.834

2. Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson is just a beast. He has come into his own this season and has shown us all why he is the 2nd best shooting guard in the NBA. It’s not just the 37 point 3rd quarter he had against the Sacramento Kings (but let’s be honest, that was incredible):

Klay Thompson leads all shooting guards with an incredible 113.7 Offensive rating. He also leads all shooting guards in Net Rating, with only teammates Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Bogut having a higher net rating.

Not many players in the NBA have the kind of ability to heat up like Klay Thompson does. As you saw in that 37 point quarter, he is unguardable and it is virtually impossible to prevent him from scoring when he gets it going like that. Klay Thompson’s stellar offensive ability and underrated defense earns him the #2 spot on my list and it shouldn’t be too long until he starts knocking on the door of the #1 player.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
31.9 21.7 3.2 2.9 0.8 1.1 0.463 0.439 0.879

1. James Harden

Now we have gotten to the #1 spot. James Harden, in my opinion, is the best shooting guard in the NBA today. I know that many people dislike his defensive play because he is lazy at times, but his offensive prowess is undeniable.

The way James Harden gets to the line, while not enjoyable at times, is pure brilliance. While this video is from last season, it is a perfect indication of how Harden uses the defender’s stance to get a fouled call every time:

In the second and third instances, you can see the defender sliding his body perfectly to defend Harden, but the defender keeps having his lead arm too close to Harden’s body. James uses that to his advantage and swipes up with the ball as he goes up for the bucket to get the foul and a possible and-1. Just smart basketball.

Harden finished 2nd in the MVP race this year falling short of Steph Curry, who had an incredible year himself. James Harden took an injured Houston team and inefficient players (like Brewer and Smith) to the playoffs while clinching the 2nd seed. That team had no business being in the Playoffs, let alone in one of the top seeds. James Harden is my #1 shooting guard in the NBA and it’s because of his offensive ability and incredible leadership.

2014-2015 NBA Statistics:

MIN PTS REB AST BLK STL FG% 3P% FT%
36.8 27.4 5.7 7 0.7 1.9 0.44 0.375 0.868

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Shooting Guards in the NBA Today

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