Armed with the gifts to put up points in a hurry and score through an array of different ways, shooting guards are an essential element to any fantasy basketball team. Yet with so many personalities playing under this position, choosing one that fits your dynamic can be quite challenging.
To help you prepare for this monumental decision, I’ve ranked the top 10 two-guards entering the 2018-19 NBA season.
10. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton may not be the most popular option out there, but after pumping in second-round value last season, he’s a guy you should seriously consider taking with your second or third pick. After averaging a career-high of 20.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.8 threes made to go along with 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 82 games, the former second-round pick is primed to take the next step in his development.
With Jabari Parker now in Chicago and Giannis Antetokounmpo needing all the help he can get, Middleton will soak up minutes at both wing positions. His outside shooting, playmaking, and swiping ability should go a long way and it helps that he’s now under someone who can really coach in Mike Budenholzer. With a new season firmly in our midst, look for Middleton to take on a heavier offensive load and live up to his potential as the second best player on his team.
9. Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets
In just four NBA seasons, Gary Harris has quietly established himself as one of the best young two-way players in the league. The former Michigan State Spartan possesses the skill to punish players with a fluid outside stroke or his daredevil drives to the basket and pester them on the defensive end.
2017-18 was his coming out party as he churned in averages of 17.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per contest, as well as a career-high 2.3 makes from deep and 1.8 steals. Add in his pristine 48.5-39.6-82.7 shooting percentages and you instantly have an 8-cat threat waiting to happen. If he can only increase his total rebounds or assists slightly during this upcoming campaign, Harris’ stock will rise further and we’ll have more reason to rank him higher on this list.
8. DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs
Tripe D may be on a new team, but he’s still the same old player – an offensive genius with the unique ability to punish defenders in all possible ways. Whether it’s at the post, on the perimeter, or driving to the basket, DeMar DeRozan can seemingly do it all. This scoring versatility is what makes him one of the most dangerous two-guards in the whole league.
Unlike his first few years in the league, he isn’t just limited to putting the ball in the hole anymore; DeRozan has gradually developed his game to become more complete. Since 2013, the USC product not only averaged 23.5 points per outing, but also 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals. He has also shot an astounding 83.5 percent from the stripe on almost eight attempts a game.
Now that DeRozan is on a San Antonio Spurs roster that’s incredibly thin in the backcourt, expect him to handle the ball more and create better opportunities for his teammates. This is great news for would-be owners who will once again rely on Deebo for overall production.
7. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Just like his fellow Splash Brother, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson’s calling card is and will always be his three-point accuracy. After yet another season that saw him sink a blistering 3.1 makes from the great beyond – a fourth-straight year with more than three a game – he is fully expected to continue this hot shooting streak.
However, Thompson is a perfect example of a player whose value is felt far more on the court than in the stat sheet. His uncanny talent of moving without the ball and finding those gaps in the defense is an essential ingredient to the Golden State Warriors offense. Add this to his stellar defensive quality and you have one of the best shooting guards in the league.
Still, despite his lack of other counting stats, Thompson can easily get hot and drop 40 on any given. This firepower, together with solid percentages, is enough to slot him in at lucky number seven.
6. CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
CJM followed up a career year in 2016-17 with a disappointing one last season; although he still put up 21.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game on 44.3 percent field goal shooting. The reason for this was his sporadic shot selection and an overall dip in shooting percentages.
The good news for fans, though, is his shot attempts have increased every year, setting McCollum up for a strong bounce-back year in 2018. As the unquestioned second option in Portland’s offense, he should be given every opportunity to score and reward owners for taking a chance on him. As an individual who can light it up from deep, create his own shot, and set his teammates up, don’t sleep on CJ as a solid shooting guard option.
5. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
When John Wall went down with an injury last season, Bradley Beal stepped up and led the Washington Wizards to a respectable eighth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, good enough to make the playoffs. He ended that crusade with a 22.6 scoring average to go with 4.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals, and 2.4 three-pointers made on 46 percent field goal shooting.
Just like many personalities on this list, Beal likewise has the talent to score in a variety of ways. But what’s truly remarkable about the former third overall pick is seeing his growth from just a scorer, into a more complete basketball player. Whether it arose from need or a natural maturity, his ability to rebound, defend, and create plays for teammates only makes him a deadlier weapon on the court.
2018-19 is going to be a big year for Bradley Beal as he proves how else he can improve after signing a huge $127-million max contract in 2016.
4. Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves
Despite a drama-filled offseason, Jimmy Butler still remains one of the best shooting guards in all the land. Gifted with a distinct capability to bully players on the block and torment them on defense, he can affect the game on either end the court. Best of all, the man known as Jimmy G. Buckets has a competitive fire matched only by a few other individuals.
After contributing 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 2.0 steals, and 85.4 percent free-throw shooting on 7.2 attempts per outing, Butler’s first season in Minnesota proved to be successful, though it may be close to an abrupt halt. Still, he should still maintain this level of production, regardless of what team the former Marquette star ends up playing for.
Yes, Jimmy is that good and at 29 years old, he’ll still have a handful of solid years ahead of him.
3. Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers
The trade that sent Victor Oladipo to the Indiana Pacers was clearly a blessing in disguise as the former second overall pick had his best season as a pro, capped off by a Most Improved Player award. During the 2017-18 campaign, he set career-highs across the board with 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, a league-leading 2.4 steals, 2.1 threes made, and 47.7 percent shooting from the floor. Most importantly, Dipo proved he has what it takes to lead a team and fill the role of a go-to-guy.
Now that a solid foundation has been established, Oladipo will look take his game to the next level. While other players went on vacation or promoted their endorsements, he was out in the gym working to sharpen his tools. This sheer drive is a good indicator that VO is primed for another huge leap forward this season.
An uncanny combination of speed, strength, athleticism, and tenacity clinches Oladipo as the third-best shooting guard in the NBA. If he falls to you at the end of the first, I implore you to draft him before somebody else scoops him up.
2. Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
With Carmelo Anthony now a member of the Houston Rockets and Russell Westbrook still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, Paul George should begin the season as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s focal point on offense. His flair as a do-it-all two guard, who can consistently create his own shot, ought to be enough to hold the fort until their superstar point guard returns.
PG13, personally, should be able to significantly increase his 2017-18 averages of 21.9 points, 5.9 assists, 3.3 assists, 2.0 steals, and 3.1 made three-pointers into something similar to his numbers in Indiana. Additionally, helping him get to the spots he likes will do wonders in improving his sub-par 43 percent field goal shooting.
Despite a down year – by his standards – George will bounce back this season and prove his doubters wrong. Now that the drama of free agency is squarely in his rear-view mirror, expect him to reward fantasy basketball owners handsomely.
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets
Who else can we put at the top spot, right?
The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player is also one of the best players in fantasy basketball to build a team around. After leading the Houston Rockets with 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 3.7 three-pointers, 45 percent field goal, and almost 86 percent free throw shooting, there’s no reason why he can’t replicate these numbers in 2018-19.
Every time The Beard steps on the floor, his owners can expect either a scintillating scoring performance, otherworldly assist numbers, or a supersized triple-double. He also has this special ability to win you four categories – points, assists, free throws, and threes – all on his own. Plug him next to a big man like Andre Drummond or Hassan Whiteside and he instantly fills in their deficiencies with strengths of his own.
Needless to say, Harden is a one-of-a-kind basketball player, both in fantasy and the real world, who can easily be the driving force to your championship aspirations. Should you be lucky enough to own a top two pick, choose him because he’s a real treat to have on your team.