5 Greatest Shooting Guards of All-Time
Honorable Mention: Tracy McGrady
Career Statistics 19.6 PTS, 5.6 REB, 4.4 AST, 22.1 PER
Honors 7x All-NBA (2x First Team), 7x All-Star, 2x Scoring Leader Tracy McGrady is one of the greatest ‘what if’ stories in NBA history. Blessed with immense talent and all of the necessary physical tools, T-Mac could ball as well as anyone on any given night. Unfortunately, a combination of poor body care and the task of dragging objectively bad Orlando teams to the NBA playoffs, McGrady’s body broke down early into his career. Had he opted to stay in Toronto with his cousin Vince Carter, McGrady’s story could have been vastly different – after all, we’re talking about a man who scored 13 points in just 33 seconds against an all-time great Defense.
5. Allen Iverson
Career Statistics 26.7 PTS, 6.2 AST, 2.2 STL, 20.9 PER
Honors 1x MVP, 7x All-NBA (3x First Team), 11x All-Star, 4x Scoring Leader, Rookie of the Year No one player has quite influenced today’s NBA quite like Allen Iverson. His inspiration can be seen everywhere from the dress code to the shooting sleeves, which Iverson popularized in the early 2000s. At barely 6-foot tall, Iverson was a fearless scoring machine. Despite a lack of size or consistent jump shot, Iverson somehow managed to lead the NBA in scoring on 4 occasions during years that Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony were active. Unfortunately, Iverson’s lack of hardware and turbulent off-court antics cast a shadow over his mostly glowing career, but nothing can take away from his influence both on and off the court.
4. Jerry West
Career Statistics 27.0 PTS, 5.8 REB, 6.7 AST, 22.9 PER
Honors 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 12x All-NBA (10x First Team), 5x All-Defense (4x First Team), 14x All-Star, 1x Scoring Leader
No list of great shooting guards is complete without mention of the Logo himself, Jerry West. In his day, West was an absolute scoring wizard, and one of the most clutch players in basketball. Consider how great West had to have been in late game moments to earn the moniker ‘Mr. Clutch’ even though his teams went 1-8 in the NBA Finals. West is the only player other than Michael Jordan (always great company when discussing basketball) to average 40+ PPG for an entire postseason, and he is the only player in NBA history to win Finals MVP for a losing team. With all of that being said, perhaps the most impressive part of West’s story is that late in his career, he went from being a prolific scorer at the shooting guard position to becoming a league-leading assist man at the point guard position.
3. Dwyane Wade Career Statistics 23.3 PTS, 4.8 REB, 5.7 AST, 24.3 PER
Honors 3x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 8x All-NBA (2x First Team), 12x All-Star, 3x All-Defense, 1x Scoring Leader
Dwyane Wade’s legacy was forever changed during the 2010 off-season. That was the year that he and LeBron James decided to join forces and South Beach, with the goal of winning multiple championships. Ultimately, Wade ended up taking a major backseat to James and will likely never get full credit for his contributions in those championship winning seasons. However, before James ever wore a Miami Heat jersey, Wade was as dynamic a shooting guard as there has ever been. Constantly being compare to Michael Jordan by the media, Wade was at times considered the best player in the NBA. In 2006 he led the Miami Heat to their first championship in franchise history, and in 2009 he led the league in scoring, almost winning the MVP award which ultimately went to… LeBron James.
2. Kobe Bryant Career Statistics 25.0 PTS, 5.2 REB, 4.7 AST, 22.9 PER
Honors 5x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 1x MVP, 15x All-NBA (11x First Team), 12x All-Defense (9x First Team), 18x All-Star, 2x Scoring Leader
Few professional athletes can boast a career story arc quite like that of Kobe Bryant. Drafted in 1997, Bryant was bursting with potential, but barely had the opportunity to show it during his rookie campaign. Fast-forward 3 seasons and Bryant was now playing second-fiddle to Shaquille O’Neal, en route to 3 consecutive NBA championships. Desperate to free himself from O’Neal’s massive shadow (both figuratively and literally), Bryant all but ran Shaq out of Los Angeles in one of the most dramatic break-ups in NBA history. Bryant went through both highs (winning league MVP in 2008) and lows (missing the playoffs altogether in 2005) during the next few seasons, but it wasn’t until 2009 and 2010 that Bryant was able to lead his own squad to an NBA Championship, finally shaking free of O’Neal’s shadow.
1. Michael Jordan Career Statistics 30.1 PTS, 6.2 REB, 5.3, 27.9 PER
Honors 6x NBA Champion, 6x Finals MVP, 5x MVP, 1x Defensive Player of the Year, 11x All-NBA (10x First Team), 9x All-Defense (9x First Team), 14x All-Star, 10x Scoring Leader, Rookie of the Year
Generally the consensus pick for the greatest basketball player ever, Jordan’s accomplishments make it hard to argue. In just 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan led the squad to the NBA Finals 6 times, closing the deal each and every time, snagging the Finals MVP award on each occasion. He led the league in scoring 10 times during his 15 year career and won the regular season MVP award on 5 occasions (although, it could have gone to him every season). His Airness capped off his stellar career winning an intergalactic battle against the highly touted Monstars, and is to date, the only player in basketball history to dunk from half court.
Did I miss any of your favorite shooting guards? Let me know if you agree or disagree – @awrashoo