This section of the list finalizes my top 40 shooting guards in the league, and these guys were the best of the best last year. I was actually a bit surprised with some of them, but there are a lot of young, promising guys in this list. Here they are:
10. Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers
Stats: 13.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.6 APG
Stephenson is likely the most controversial player on this list, not because of his ranking, but because of what he does on the court. Recently known for his negative antics and ear-blowing, some might forget how great he actually was at basketball. He led all shooting guards in RPG with 7.2, and still managed 4.6 APG. He’s not going to be the team’s leading scorer on a regular day, but he can still put up points when necessary. If he can get his PER up, which is a bit low right now at 14.72, he can definitely move up this list. He’ll be in a new atmosphere next year after signing a 3 year deal with Charlotte, so it’ll be interesting to see if his style of play changes at all.
9. Kevin Martin, Minnesota Timberwolves
Stats: 19.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.8 APG
Kevin Martin has always been an amazing shooter, especially from the 3-point line. He wasn’t the most efficient scorer, but at close to 20 PPG, I don’t think it matters much. He doesn’t add much across the stat sheet which is one negative, but that comes with his style of play. It’s a trade off with him: you get the points, but other players are going to have to feed him the ball. Don’t expect Martin to be passing much. He’s likely not in the long-term plans of the Timberwolves and may find himself on a different team if Kevin Love gets traded.
8. Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic
Stats: 18.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.4 APG
I was already ruling out Afflalo as a sub-par, overrated SG/SF combo player after many poor seasons in the NBA. I even called his performance two years ago a fluke. But last year he exploded for a career high in PPG, as well as a solid increase in shooting percentage. And that’s just overall shooting percentage, his 3-point % increased 12.7% from the year before, a massive increase. He was actually third best in 3-point % in this top 40 list and number one in the top 10. That’s very impressive. He was traded back to Denver though, where he had his infamous poor seasons. I think it will be different this time, but I don’t expect him to remain this high on the list.
7. Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
Stats: 18.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.2 APG
It’s amazing to think that Crawford is not even a starter, but still made it this high on the list. He is a long-time veteran that has essentially done it all. He has surprisingly played for 5 different teams in the last 6 years, but last year he had one of the best seasons of his career. His field goal percentages are never the greatest, but he’s an excellent free throw shooter and amazing scorer. He also throws in a few rebounds and assists, although nothing to blow anyone away. He has a solid 17.39 PER though which was also a big reason for being this high on the list. It’s rarer to see a veteran as old as him still scoring like this.
6. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
Stats: 16.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 5.2 APG
I was thoroughly surprised by the performance of Hayward last year, but I was quite pleased as well. It was definitely his breakout season, notching career highs in PPG, RPG, APG, and SPG. His shooting percentages took a dip, but that was expected when he took on such a big part of the Utah offense last year. I expect him to continue to get better, and after re-signing a big deal with the Jazz, he showed that he’s committed to helping this team rebuild. He considers himself one of the best young players in the league, and that’s a great attitude to have. He’s on his way to a great career.
5. Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks
Stats: 19.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.7 APG
Ellis had a really good season two years ago as the full-time starter for the Bucks, but I didn’t think he’d be able to keep it up once he moved to Dallas. Boy, was I wrong. His stats dropped a little bit from the year before, but they were already so high that it’s hard to maintain those. No, he’s not going to go back to averaging 25.5 PPG like he did a few years ago, but he’s still a very reliable scorer that adds in a good amount of rebounds and assists, especially for his style of play. He was a big reason for the Mavericks’ success last year, especially in the first round of the playoffs when they almost knocked off the eventual NBA Champs.
4. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
Stats: 22.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.0 APG
I honestly never expected DeRozan to be this good, but he has solidified himself as the best player on a rising Raptors team. He had always been a great scorer, but I always thought it was mostly because they just didn’t have anyone else to score. Well, now that the Raptors are one of the best teams in the East, DeRozan proved why that’s false. He posted career highs in essentially every statistical category, surpassing 20 PPG for the first time in his 5 year career. He’s going to need to maintain or even improve these stats if he wants to continue to help the Raptors win, but I think he can do it.
3. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Stats: 19.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.7 APG
Who said that Wade has lost his step? So he may not be the best SG in the league anymore, but #3 on the list is pretty darn good. The fact that he can still put up the numbers he does after so much wear and tear shows how much he cares about his team. A lifelong member of the Heat, he’s been there through the good and bad. He only played 54 games though, so it won’t be long until the amount of games he misses is too much to consider him an elite talent. But with a PER of 22.06, he deserves to be on the court whenever he can.
2. Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
Stats: 20.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.9 APG
It’s probably a little surprising to see Dragic this high on the list, but he was a major part of the Suns’ resurgence last year. They took a very young, inexperienced team and were just barely edged out from making the playoffs. Dragic had by far the best year of his career, averaging over 20 in both PPG and PER, something that only one other SG did. His assist numbers were down from the year before, but that’s mainly because he spent half the year at SG and then moved to PG when Eric Bledsoe got hurt. So is Dragic a true SG? No, he’s a combo guard, but his real position this past year was supposed to be SG, so that’s why he’s classified as such.
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets
Stats: 25.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.1 APG
Harden is the best shooting guard in the league, and I don’t think anyone can argue otherwise. He dominates across the board, scoring more than any other SG while still putting up impressive rebound and assist numbers. His PER is also off the charts at 23.51, higher than any other SG in the league. The Rockets faltered in the playoffs, and with the loss of Chandler Parsons they may struggle even more, but if Harden can keep this up, I doubt he’ll be dethroned as the best SG in the league. It’s crazy that the Thunder had him, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant all on the same team…that’s 3 of the best players in the league. Great year for Harden.