In this 5 part series, I will be listing the 5 best players of all time for each position; next up are the shooting guards!
The shooting guard (SG) is also known as the two or off guard. A shooting guard’s main objective is to score points for the team and play tough defense. Some shooting guards play in combination with the point guard in bringing the ball up; these players are known as combo guards. Furthermore, a player who can switch between the shooting guard and small forward position is known as a swingman.
James Harden – There is a concensus across the entire NBA that the term ‘Fear the Beard’ is in strong effect. Harden is at the peak of his career coming off the highest scoring season since Michael Jordan in 1987 giving him the 7th overall spot on the list of single season points per game average. What makes Harden such a diverse and stand-out athlete is the fact that his strengths aren’t just in the scoring department, as the 2016-17 season saw him average 11.2 assists per game. In regards to personal accolades, he is only the 2nd player in NBA history to win the 6th man of the year and the MVP award. The only reason he is not listed on the top 5 list is due to his lack of playoff success, but the recent addition of his old teammate Russell Westbrook could definitely push Harden into the best of the best.
Tracy McGrady – Tracy McGrady is one of the most underrated players of all time but due to an injury plagued career we were unable to experience his peak for as long as we would have liked. In his short but illustrious career, McGrady was a 7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA selections, 2x NBA scoring champion and a one-time winner of the NBA Most Improved Player award. The scoring titles were won in one of the most competitive scoring eras in NBA history as McGrady frequently battled for the top spot with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Allen Iverson. Unfortunately for McGrady he was consistently injured and by the 2012-13 season he was playing for the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles in China. He also was consistently unsuccessful in the playoffs, therefore further lowering his all-time rank.
Clyde Drexler – The now commissioner of the Big3 ‘3-on-3’ basketball tournament was once one of the best basketball players in the entire world. Drexler was a 10x NBA All-Star and also named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996. He won a championship with the Houston Rockets in 1995 and was a member of the 1992 United States Olympic team known as “The Dream Team”. Drexler spent a majority of his career as the star player on the Portland Trailblazers and carried them to the finals in 1992 in the same season he finished 2nd in MVP voting behind Michael Jordan.
5. Allen Iverson
How many players can confidently say that throughout the course of their career, they completely changed the landscape and play style of an entire sport? Maybe Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry or Kobe Bryant can say so. Out of these game changers there is only one name that stands above them all in regards to the impact and change they brought to the game of basketball: Allen Iverson. Now, some may debate that Iverson is a point guard, but throughout his career he played more seasons listed at the 2 but the term ‘combo guard’ perfectly describes his role. Coming out of the jam-packed 1996 NBA draft alongside Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Ray Allen, Iverson was taken first overall by the woeful Philadelphia 76ers therefore declaring him the shortest 1st overall pick of all time listed at 6ft 0in tall. Despite all the antics and commotion that came with the pick, Iverson was rewarded with the nickname “The Answer” as he was seen as someone who could turn the 76ers around from their previous season’s record of 18-64. In his first 6 years in the league, Iverson led the league in scoring 3 times including an MVP award and a finals trip that turned out to be the highlight of his career. In the 2000-01 season, Iverson and the 76ers started the season 10-0 which in itself is a franchise record, was named as an All-Start starter and won All-Star game MVP, finished the season as the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference, and finally won MVP and went to the finals and beat the Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles Lakers in game 1 that took the world by storm with Iverson’s infamous “step over” on Tyronn Lue. Iverson has solidified himself as one of the most dominant and game changing players to ever grace this game and despite his size and height, he physically dominated in a “big-mans” game.
4. Jerry West
Imagine being so talented and gifted at the game of basketball that you lose in the NBA Finals but still receive the Finals MVP award: that is exactly what Jerry West did in the 1969 NBA Finals. Now some people may be against this choice as this pick when they look purely at his finals record (1-8), but during this time West came up against the Bill Russell led Boston Celtics a total of six times and the Walt Frazier and Willis Reed led New York Knicks twice. West however didn’t finish his career empty-handed as he won an NBA championship in 1972 alongside Wilt Chamberlain. Over his career West averaged a total of 27 points per game and 6.6 assists per game with season-highs of 31.3 points per game in the 1965-66 season and 9.7 assists per game in the 1971-72 season. West was revolutionary with his style of play, the first to have that mentality that was often considered “an obsession of basketball” that led the pathway for players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and many more. He was also given the nickname “Mr Clutch” due to his ability to consistently play well in the clutch and hit big shots when needed. In game 3 of the 1969-70 NBA Finals, Dave DeBusschere hit a mid-range jump shot with three seconds left to put the Knicks ahead 102-100, and the Lakers had no time-outs left. Chamberlain inbounded the ball to West, who raced past Frazier and threw up a 60-foot shot that landed – to win the game. Frazier later commented: “The man’s crazy. He looks determined. He thinks it’s really going in!” West astoundingly connected, and this basket was later called one of the greatest moments ever by the NBA themselves. Despite his many years suffering finals defeats at the hands of Russell and the Celtics; his grit and grind play style has solidified himself as one of the greatest players to play in the NBA.
3. Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade is one of the best all-round players in the history of the NBA. Wade was selected 5th overall by the Miami Heat in the 2003 NBA draft which is considered one of the most stacked draft classes of all time. Wade recently retired from his memorable 16-year career with 13x All-Star appearances, 8x All-NBA team selections, 3x NBA Championships, and 1x Finals MVP Award. For many NBA fans who have only started watching the NBA in recent years (2010+), they may not know the destruction and fear that Wade left in his opposition. He is one of the craftiest players of all time as he always knew how to find the basket. He was not only an offensive threat; he established himself on defense for his ability to block shots and accumulate steals. Wade now has more blocked shots than any guard in NBA history with a total of 885 blocks in the regular season with an additional 175 blocks in the playoffs. Wade also became the first player of all time to finish a season with at least 2000 points, 500 assists, 100 steals, and 100 blocks. In Wade’s junior season in the league, he carried the Heat to an NBA Championship with teammates such as Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, Jason Williams, Alonzo Mourning, and Udonis Haslem. He had some especially memorable moments including his performances in games 3, 4, and 5, in which he scored 42, 36, and 43 points. In the 2006 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks won the first two games, but through the leadership and determination of Wade, the Heat finished the series with a 4-2 win. Even with LeBron James standing out through the Heats 4 consecutives finals appearances, Wade played an instrumental role and they wouldn’t have had the success without him being there.
2. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is not only the 2nd best shooting guard to ever play; he is a top 5 player of all time. Bryant was the first ever guard in history to be drafted straight out of high school as he was taken 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft. He was traded immediately to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac in order for the Lakers to clear cap space so they could sign superstar Shaquille O’Neal. Although Bryant wasn’t a standout in his first season, he was voted into the All-Star game in just his second campaign. From here the comparisons to Michael Jordan began – critics and NBA media stating that his play style and mentality could easily be compared to the then greatest player to ever play the game. Then came the infamous 3-peat, from the season of 1999-00 until 2001-02, the Lakers were absolutely dominant and the combo-big man combination of Bryant and O’Neal was simply unbeatable. Despite the issues it appeared they were having off the court, they were able to get the job done repeatedly on the court. Bryant especially stood out in the 2000-01 finals and playoffs as he finished with an average of 29.4 points per game, 6.1 assists per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. The rebounds and assists were the highest that he would ever average in a playoff run in his entire 20 year career. For many years after the Lakers 3-peat, many thought that Bryant was unable to lead the team to a championship himself after O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat but between the seasons of 2007-08 and 2009-10, Bryant led the team to 3 straight finals including two championships. 2 of these finals were against the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo fuelled Boston Celtics therefore furthering the rivalry between the two historic clubs that started back in the 1960s. To credit some of Bryant’s career accomplishments and achievements, he finished as the 3rd highest scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, 5x championship rings in 7 finals appearances with 2x finals MVPs, 1x NBA MVP, 18x All-Star, 15x All-NBA selections with 11 of those being on the All-NBA First Team, 12x All-Defensive Team selections, 2nd most points in a game with 81, and above all: tied with Dirk Nowitzki, he has the most seasons played for a single NBA franchise with 20 years at the Lakers. Some Kobe lovers debate whether he is the best of all time, some Kobe haters debate whether he is even top 10 of all time, but everyone who has ever seen him play the game of basketball can all agree that what they were watching was something special.
1. Michael Jordan
Michael Jeffrey Jordan is the undeniable best shooting guard of all time. A majority of NBA fans believe he is the best player of all time period. Jordan started his journey to greatness in college for his hometown in North Carolina in his freshman season when he hit the game-winning jump shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship game against the Patrick Ewing led Georgetown. After his 3 years playing for the Tar Heels, the Chicago Bulls selected Jordan with the 3rd overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. In his rookie season, Jordan smashed records after averaging 28.2 points per game on over 50% shooting. This led to league-wide appreciation and support for Jordan that eventually included him in the All-Star game in his first year in the league. After breaking his foot early in his second season which caused him to miss 64 total games, the Bulls were still able to make the playoffs without him with a record of 30-52. Jordan recovered in time to contribute in the playoffs and his return was highly anticipated. Against the 1985-86 Boston Celtics team that is often considered one of the best teams in NBA history, Jordan set the still-unbroken record for points scored in a playoff game with 63 in game 2. Entering his next season, Jordan averaged an astronomical 37.1 points per game and became the only player besides Wilt Chamberlain to score more than 3,000 points in a single season. Jordan also proved his worth on the defensive end as he became the first player to total over 200 steals and 100 blocks in a season since those stats had been recorded. After many years of averaging 30+ points per game and winning an MVP in 1988, he and long-time friend and teammate Scottie Pippen finally came into effect and won their first of six championships that included two 3-peats. Six championships in 8 seasons is one of the biggest achievements by any player in history, however this could have been more as Jordan decided to retire from the game of basketball to pursue baseball after his father’s death. In the two years that he was out of the league, the Houston Rockets led by Hakeem Olajuwon had won the championships in both years. Many believe that if Jordan had continued to play in the NBA instead of Minor League Baseball that he and the Bulls could have defeated the Rockets as Olajuwon was their only real star. Jordan finished his career averaging 30.1 points per game (the highest of all time), as a 10x scoring champion, 1x Defensive Player of the Year with 9x All-Defensive team selections, a 6x NBA Champion with 6x Finals MVPS, 5x NBA MVPs and a 14x NBA All-Star. Jordan is the most highly decorated player of all time and there may never be a player who takes over his number 1 place on this list.
For the top 5 point guards of all time click the link below!