At this time in the league, some say there’s a disparity in star shooting guards. We’ll see who’s at the top of the list for the guys at the 2 leading into the 17-18 season.
Just missed the cut:
15. Danny Green – San Antonio Spurs
You won’t see Danny Green put up 20 or more too often or be the number one option on any given night, though his relentless defense and sweet 3 point jumper get him into the top 15. The Spurs wouldn’t be nearly as good without Green. He’s one of the best backcourt defenders in the league and spreads the floor tremendously for LaMarcus Aldridge to work down low. Being on the Spurs will stunt Green’s numbers, but he’s definitely a huge piece for San Antonio.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 7.3 RPG: 3.3 APG: 1.8 SPG: 1.0
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 8.1 RPG: 3.2 APG: 1.9 SPG: 1.6
14. Gary Harris – Denver Nuggets
Harris will presumably fight for minutes with Jamal Murray this season, though I expect both of them to play 20+. Harris has tremendous offensive ability with a great jumper and solid quickness off the dribble, shooting above 50% from the field last season. If he improves his defense this year I think we could see him attain the starting shooting guard spot in Denver for good and spring himself into the top 10 on this list.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 14.9 RPG: 3.1 APG: 2.9 SPG: 1.2
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 16.3 RPG: 3.4 APG: 3.1 SPG: 1.5
13. J.J. Redick – Philadelphia 76ers
Redick appears to be just the player and shooter that the young Sixers need. It’s assumed he’ll join rookie guard Markelle Fultz in the backcourt this season and will be expected to spread the floor for Joel Embiid to score and make plays in the paint. Redick will likely go down as one of the best 3 point shooters in NBA history and his range from deep will make him money well into his 30’s. He’ll be an important piece for a possible Philly playoff team this year.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 15.0 RPG: 2.2 APG: 1.4 SPG: 0.7
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.7 RPG: 2.1 APG: 1.8 SPG: 0.6
12. Zach LaVine – Chicago Bulls
LaVine was another young guy involved in a superstar trade this offseason. The UCLA product was sent to Chi-Town on draft night as the main piece in the Jimmy Butler-Timberwolves acquisition. He and Kris Dunn now join Dwyane Wade in the Bulls backcourt, though sources say the veteran guard and the Chicago front office will likely agree on a buyout in the coming months. If this happens, the reigns to the team will be turned over to LaVine, and he will be the new star of the Bulls. We’ll see how he handles the new freedom and spotlight of Chicago this season. His defense remains in question.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.9 RPG: 3.4 APG: 3.0 SPG: 0.9
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 20.3 RPG: 4.1 APG: 4.7 SPG: 1.2
11. Dwyane Wade – Chicago Bulls
According to CBS Sports, Wade is eyeing a return to Miami or a reunion with LeBron James in Cleveland if bought out by the Bulls. As of right of right now he is still in Chicago and if things stay the same he’ll be in a position battle with Zach LaVine for the starting job, unless Hoiberg sees LaVine fit to play the point. Over the past few years we’ve seen Flash slow down a little bit, losing some jump and quickness, though his basketball I.Q. is still amazing and he’s able to provide leadership to the young guys. We’ll see what uniform D-Wade is sporting come opening day.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 18.3 RPG: 4.5 APG: 3.8 SPG: 1.4
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 16.7 RPG: 3.9 APG: 4.1 SPG: 1.2
10. Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
Booker is coming off of a breakout year last year, putting up over 22 a game and setting a career high of a whopping 70 points against the Boston Celtics. Defense continues to be the area Booker struggles in. With a better defensive efficiency rating he could’ve easily made his way into the top 6 on this list. There’s no questioning his shooting ability and star potential, but with the freedom of being the only guy in Phoenix last year came the laziness on defense. This problem must be tended to by Earl Watson to turn Booker into a superstar.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 22.1 RPG: 3.2 APG: 3.4 SPG: 0.9
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 23.4 RPG: 3.6 APG: 3.7 SPG: 1.2
9. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Los Angeles Lakers
Caldwell-Pope joins the Lakers this year on a one-year contract. He’ll likely beat out Jordan Clarkson to start at the shooting guard position and play alongside Lonzo Ball in the backcourt. Caldwell-Pope brings some of the best backcourt defense in the league as well as an improving offensive game and jumpshot. Being in new scenery this season, we’ll see how the new role affects him and whether the Lakers decide to re-sign Caldwell-Pope next summer.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 13.8 RPG: 3.3 APG: 2.5 SPG: 1.2
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 15.2 RPG: 3.4 APG: 2.9 SPG: 1.7
8. Nicolas Batum – Charlotte Hornets
Batum enters this season with a young guy in Malik Monk who’ll challenge him for minutes at the 2, though I’d expect the Frenchman to retain his starting position. He’s showcased his superb all-around game over the last few years and proven he can be used to guard the 2 and 3 and play multiple positions on offense. If Batum can avoid excessive shooting slumps and use his versatility to his advantage, look for another solid season from him.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 15.1 RPG: 6.2 APG: 5.9 SPG: 1.1
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 14.9 RPG: 6.6 APG: 6.3 SPG: 1.4
7. Avery Bradley – Detroit Pistons
Bradley comes into Detroit as Caldwell-Pope’s replacement and in my opinion, an improvement. We knew years before that Bradley was a tremendous lockdown defender but this year and especially in the postseason without Isaiah Thomas, showcased his improved offensive game and shooting ability. If he carries over that game and mentality to the Pistons, they’ll love him in Auburn Hills. If all goes well for Detroit next year, Bradley and Drummond could turn into a dynamic duo in the East.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 16.3 RPG: 6.1 APG: 2.2 SPG: 1.2
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 18.7 RPG: 6.3 APG: 2.9 SPG: 1.6
6. Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards
Beal is currently in possibly the best backcourt in the East consisting of himself and John Wall. Both are 20+ point scorers, however Beal is clearly the better long range shooter. The Florida product has a career mark of 40% from deep and at just 23, can become a guy who shoots a plus 40% year to year. At 6’5″, Beal has the potential to become a better and more attentive defender to help the Wiz potentially get to a conference finals. We’ll see if he can keep his shooting percentages up while improving his D this year.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 23.1 RPG: 3.1 APG: 3.5 SPG: 1.1
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 23.7 RPG: 3.3 APG: 3.4 SPG: 1.2
5. C.J. McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers
Like Wall and Beal, McCollum forms a pretty formidable backcourt himself with Damian Lillard. The former Lehigh star had a career year last year and comes into this season eyeing another playoff appearance with the Blazers. McCollum put up a career high in points last year and improved his shooting percentages significantly. He’s never been a great defender but he must continue to hold his own against most matchups in order to continue to be a co-leader in Portland and get them back to the postseason in a stacked Western Conference.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 23.0 RPG: 3.6 APG: 3.6 SPG: 0.9
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 24.1 RPG: 3.7 APG: 3.8 SPG: 1.1
4. Jimmy Butler – Minnesota Timberwolves
Butler joins the Wolves this season after being traded from the Chicago Bulls on draft night. It’s likely we see a slight drop in his personal numbers this year, though he will most likely find more team success now that he’s in Minnesota. We saw the keys to the franchise be handed over to him in Chicago over the last few years, and now he’s the leader of a young Timberwolves team who could make their first playoff appearance since the Kevin Garnett era. The thought of a Butler-Wiggins-Towns big three sounds great, but will it pan out?
16-17 Stats: PPG: 23.9 RPG: 6.2 APG: 5.5 SPG: 1.9
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 21.7 RPG: 5.9 APG: 5.8 SPG: 2.0
3. Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors
Klay could easily be number two on this list, but given his recent playoff slump I think this is the spot for him. We all know of his tremendous outside shot which could go down as the second best in history, but his defense is really what separates him from those just below him in this list. Despite what some metrics say, Thompson can lock down several guards, point or shooting, across the league and can slow down even the craftiest of players such as Kyrie Irving. This, along with his superb ability to play off the ball efficiently on offense put him at #3 in the rankings.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 22.3 RPG: 3.7 APG: 2.1 SPG: 0.8
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 22.7 RPG: 3.3 APG: 2.2 SPG: 1.1
2. Demar Derozan – Toronto Raptors
Derozan made major improvements in his game last season, solidifying his place as a top 3 shooting guard in the league. His points per game jumped nearly 4 points and he improved his rebounding, appearing in his 3rd All-Star game along the way. Derozan’s biggest flaw is clearly shooting from the outside. His 3-pt% dropped over 7% to an atrocious 26.6% from deep. If the Raptors are to have any shot at all at dethroning the Cavs in the East, Derozan must improve that shot as he enters his prime. I’d expect similar numbers this year, but if that 3-pt% drops anymore the California native may be moving back in the rankings.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 27.3 RPG: 5.2 APG: 3.9 SPG: 1.1
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 26.9 RPG: 4.7 APG: 4.3 SPG: 1.2
1. James Harden – Houston Rockets
Though Harden started at point guard for the Rockets last season, with Chris Paul headed to H-Town this year I decided to list him as a shooting guard. The Arizona State product had the best season of his career last year and could’ve easily taken the MVP over Westbrook in my opinion. The Beard put up numbers we haven’t seen in years and led what looked to be a messy Rockets roster all the way to third in the West. Now with Paul by his side, Harden could see his numbers drop just a tad, but none the less he’s the best shooting guard in the league and will have another MVP-like season this year.
16-17 Stats: PPG: 29.1 RPG: 8.1 APG: 11.2 SPG: 1.5
17-18 Projected Stats: PPG: 28.3 RPG: 7.4 APG: 9.6 SPG: 1.8