The NBA has always been about getting the ball in the bucket. No matter the era, the job was to score more points than your opponent. In today’s game, that hasn’t changed. But what has, has been the way those points are earned. While big men still dominate the paint, it’s the guys in the backcourt that get their fair share of electric plays. The shooting guard position was made famous well before Michael Jordan came into the league, but he made it the most recognizable position in basketball.
Over time, we’ve been blessed to have Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Jordan, Reggie Miller and more but a new day has arrived in the NBA. Today’s generation has taken the game to new levels. There is the shooting of Klay Thompson, the high-flying of Donovan Mitchell, the defensive presence of Avery Bradley, and the all-around game of James Harden. But who is the best in the league today?
Here are the top 5 shoot guards in the NBA, Ranked 1-5
5. Victor Oladipo
In 36 games in 2018, Oladipo did not perform the way he had in 2017. That year, he finished the season averaging 23.1 points, 4.3 assists, and 5,2 rebounds per game. In 2018, the star of the Indiana Pacers started slowly as the team made a few improvements to the roster. Before his injury, Oladipo averaged 18.8 points, 5.2 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game. Even with those numbers reduced, Oladipo is still one of the most electrifying SGs in the NBA.
If he can come back healthy, Oladipo should resume his form from 2017. He has the ability to slash to the rim, hit from the perimeter, take a defender off the dribble and find the open teammate. While he may not be the ultimate high-flyer like Zach LaVine, Oladipo does indeed have hops that will get you out your seat. Another solid skill that he has over other SGs is his ability to defend. In 2017, he led the league with 2.4 steals per game and averaged another 1.7 in 2018 before his injury
4. Klay Thompson
Would Klay Thompson be the same without Stephen Curry? Well, to be honest, do we really need to answer that? Was Scottie Pippen the same without Michael Jordan? What about Karl Malone and John Stockton? No matter the tandem, a star is still a star. Thompson is one of the best in the NBA when it comes to the catch and shoot. Watching Thompson shoot is like having flashbacks of watching Reggie Miller light it up in the ’90s. While Curry gets most of the attention on the Golden State Warriors, Thompson cannot be ignored.
In 2018, the other half of The Splash Brothers averaged 21.5 points per game, 2.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds. Yes, there are some with better numbers but what makes Thompson so dangerous is he doesn’t quit and has the ability to torch a defender from anywhere on the court. Last season, he played in 78 games, attempted 18.0 shots per games while shooting .467 from the floor, including .420 from deep.
3. CJ McCollum
It was tempting to put a player such as DeMar DeRozan or Donavon Mitchell here but how long will fans and analysts continue to ignore what CJ McCollum has become? Is he considered an elite scorer in the NBA? By some, yes. By others, he’s riding the coattail of Damian Lillard. Well, if that’s the case, I guess Klay Thomspon, Bradley Beal, and others should not get their recognition as well.
In 2018, McCollum really came into his own. While his scoring was down, he did manage to finish the season with averages of 21.0 points, 3.0 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game. McCollum played in 70 games and attempted 17.8 shots while shooting .459 from the field, including .375 from deep. McCollum deserves every bit of credit he has coming his way. His defense has improved and he’s great at creating his own shot and getting to the basket.
Even before John Wall went down with a season-ending injury, Bradley Beal was stepping out from Wall’s shadow. In 2018, Beal became an elite scorer for the Washington Wizards. Although he couldn’t lead the Wizards to the playoffs, Beal put up solid numbers (25.6 points, 5.5 assists, and 5.0 rebounds). With a great handle, Beal is able to penetrate and his 5.5 assists prove that he’s no slouch when it comes to finding the open teammate.
Another reason Beal belongs on this short list is his ability to defend. With Beal taking over the heavy lifting with the Wizards dealing with many injuries, he was forced to play both ends of the court and was able to do so on a high level. Last season, he played in all 82 games and averaged 36.9 minutes per. This is the type of production you want from a star player. Beal also attempted 19.6 shots (career-high) while shooting .475 (2nd highest) and hitting .351 percent from three-point territory.
1. James Harden
James Harden is by far the best SG in the NBA. What can’t Harden do? Well, play defense is the obvious choice but on the offensive end, he’s unstoppable. He’s called a ball hog and a shot clock killer but what it boils down to is putting the ball in the basket and how many players do that better than him? With the ball in Harden’s hands, the Houston Rockets are contenders. Harden has one of the most underrated dribbles in the league and that step-back jumper is in a league of its own.
In 2018, Harden lit the league up with averages of 36.1 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.6 rebounds per game. Harden is lethal when attacking the basket and just as deadly from the perimeter. He is the complete weapon on the offensive end. Plus, he’s durable. Last season, Harden played 78 games, averaged 36.8 minutes, attempted 24.5 shots per game while shooting .442 from the floor, including .368 from deep. He’s a beast.