Top 10 Shooting Guards Entering 2016-17 Season: 1-5
5. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors (23.5 PPG, 4.0 APG, 4.5 RPG): If DeRozan could find a more consistent shooting stroke; he could be in the top three consideration. DeRozan enters his eighth season in the NBA shooting 28% from the three-point line for his career. Last season, DeRozan shot 34% but then just 15% in the postseason. Even without being a good shooter, DeRozan still finds ways to get his points by slashing through opposing defenses and finishing around the rim. He and Kyle Lowry are one of the better backcourt tandems in the league and will be heavily leaned on as Toronto tries to breakthrough in the Eastern Conference.
4. C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers (20.8 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.2 RPG): Since neither DeRozan or McCollum is making a ‘How To Play Defense’ video, McCollum gets the edge for his play on the offensive end of the floor. McCollum is a legitimate threat behind the arc, shooting a 41% clip for his career. Last season saw a slight increase while shooting 42%. If McCollum and Damian Lillard are both on during the same game, Portland can shoot their way to a win against any opponent in the league. McCollum is also comfortable with the ball in his hands and is capable of running the offense as a point guard. There isn’t much separation between McCollum and DeRozan and these rankings could be swapped during the season.
3. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors (22.1 PPG, 2.1 APG, 3.8 APG): If this list was top shooting guards for Golden State’s offense, Thompson is the easy number one choice, however the sharpshooter comes in as my third best shooting guard overall. There is absolutely no denying Thompson as one of the best catch-and-shoot guys in NBA history and his ability to stretch a defense is perhaps the most important aspect of the Warriors’ offense. Thompson demands so much respect on the perimeter and that opens up more space for Steph Curry and now Kevin Durant to operate in. Thompson also guards the opposing team’s best backcourt player. Thompson isn’t really much of a ball handler and doesn’t run the offense a whole lot so that also contributes to him being my number three. Thompson is also the low key MVP for bringing Durant to Oakland. If he doesn’t explode in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Thunder (41 points, 6-11 3PT), the Warriors would’ve lost and the Thunder could’ve beaten the Cavaliers and then who knows what would’ve happened. But it would be hard to leave a team that made the Finals.
2. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls (20.9 PPG, 4.8 APG, 5.3 RPG): Butler enters 2016 as the unquestioned leader of the Bulls after Derrick Rose was traded to the Knicks and Joakim Noah went to New York in free agency. Butler is perhaps the second best two-way player in the NBA besides Kawhi Leonard, and his more than just a three-and-d type of a player. While guarding opposition’s best wing player, Butler still managed to score about 21 points per contest and is capable of getting to the basket or shooting the three. Butler only shot 31% from the arc last season, but has shown that he can be a consistent threat for three. Look at this strange pattern of his three-point percentage throughout his career (minus his rookie season in 2011-12): 38% in 2012-13, 28% in 2013-14, 38% in 2014-15, and 31% in 2015-16. So Butler can shoot from three and has also shown he can be consistent with it too. Obviously he would like to avoid have a down shooting season every other year, but he is too talented to consistently struggle and I expect him to perform really well in his first season as the face of the Bulls.
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets (29.0 PPG, 7.5 APG, 6.1 RPG): Say what you want about Harden, but the man can flat out ball. You don’t get the numbers Harden has had by being an average ballplayer. Harden can shoot the three, get to the basket, draw the foul, whatever you need done on offense, Harden can do it with the best of them. While he isn’t the best defender in the league, there are very few players who can have the type of impact he has on the offensive end of the floor. He is also a good rebounder for a guard and the Rockets want him to facilitate more this year, so that should lead to an increase in his already good 7.5 assists per game from last season. For all the flak about his defense, The Beard still had 1.7 steals per game last season and had averaged 1.6 or more in every season since being traded from the Thunder. Harden is one of the more entertaining players to watch on the floor and should continue to put up big numbers this season.