20 greatest shooting guards ever: The HoopsHype list

Credit: Coley Cleary / USA TODAY Sports Media Group

20 greatest shooting guards ever: The HoopsHype list


20 greatest shooting guards ever: The HoopsHype list

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We have taken our HoopsHype 76 list and split it into five positions: point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers. The catch is, the players who received some votes but were ultimately left off our list are now included in the positional rankings, so you can see who nearly made the cut for our Top 76 list.

We continue here with who we consider to be the best shooting guards who ever played basketball, led off by our GOAT selection: Michael Jordan.

Michael Jordan

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Top accolades: Six NBA titles, six Finals MVPs, five MVPs, 10 All-NBA 1st Team selections, 14 All-Stars, one Defensive Player of the Year award, nine All-Defensive 1st Team selections

NBA rank: 3rd in steals, 5th in scoring, 47th in assists, 123rd in blocks, 132nd in rebounds

Not a consensus pick, but close to it, as six of our eight voters picked Michael Jordan again as the No. 1 player in their ranking. It’s impossible to argue that, too, as Jordan had the highest peak of any of the GOAT candidates and the longest list of top-level achievements (as of now). Jordan was a madman as a competitor, which led to him training as hard as any NBA player ever in order to get his body in elite shape to destroy opponents.

His mid-range game – face-ups, jab-steps, pull-ups, turnarounds, fadeaway, all of it – was second to none, and he was also a freakish athlete who could finish through contact and over length. And then there was the aspect of his clutchness, as Jordan was so often successful in nailing game-winners in the most high-pressure situations imaginable. Oh, and he was a top-tier defender, too.

Jordan was the face of the NBA for a long time, and his star status outside of the basketball world was almost hard to believe, and still sort of is. Overall, he’s still currently the GOAT, according to our voters.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Top accolades: Five NBA titles, two Finals MVPs, one MVP, 11 All-NBA 1st Team selections, 18 All-Stars, nine All-Defensive 1st Team selections

NBA rank: 4th in scoring, 16th in steals, 33rd in assists, 111th in rebounds, 201st in blocks

Not as high a peak as other megastars, but his career is one of amazingly sustained excellence – a result of an almost unparalleled work ethic and devotion to his craft, which helped him develop into an outrageous scorer out of the mid-range and near the rim, and a high-impact perimeter defender. Kobe Bryant was first a sidekick to Shaq before then becoming the man for the Lakers and winning five titles overall, two of which he earned Finals MVPs for. Bryant, who finished his career with more All-NBA 1st Team selections than Jordan (!), also probably turned more people into basketball fans than any player not named Michael (or Earvin).

Dwyane Wade

Top accolades: Three NBA titles, one Finals MVP, eight All-NBA selections, 13 All-Stars, three All-Defensive 2nd Team selections

NBA rank: 31st in steals, 32nd in scoring, 43rd in assists, 128th in blocks

Dwyane Wade never won a league MVP award but came close in 2008-09 and 2009-10. He was also a solid playmaker and a plus-defender, especially as a shot-blocker, as he ranks as the player 6-foot-4 or shorter with the most blocks ever. Wade also showed great humility in playing second fiddle to LeBron to chase titles later in his prime.

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson

Top accolades: One MVP, seven All-NBA selections, 11 All-Stars

NBA rank: 14th in steals, 26th in scoring, 48th in assists

Share of the vote: 61.87 percent of the maximum amount possible

A cultural icon as well as one of the best lead guards of his era, Allen Iverson has to be one of the most ridiculously explosive athletes the sport has ever seen, especially out of a player generously listed at 6-feet tall. Iverson’s crossover was devastating (just ask Jordan), and his bombastic styler as a scorer made for thrilling viewing throughout his prime.

James Harden

James Harden

Top accolades: One MVP, six All-NBA 1st Team selections, 10 All-Stars, one Sixth Man of the Year award

NBA rank: 28th in scoring, 31st in assists, 54th in steals. 240th in rebounds

James Harden already has a Hall-of-Fame resume thanks to his unreal scoring ability and playmaking. His crossover and stepback jumper have made him impossible to slow down when he gets going, as does his strong shoulder on drives to the rim. He has a chance to add to his legacy in a major way over the coming years. However, he’s starting to run out of time to accomplish that as Harden, now 33, is starting to make it an impossible-to-ignore habit to fall short in the playoffs. 2022-23 will be a great chance for him to change that, though, as the 76ers are stacked and Harden will have the opportunity to lead the team on a deep playoff run.

George Gervin

George Gervin

Top accolades: Five All-NBA 1st Team selections, nine All-Stars

NBA rank: 43rd in scoring, 189th in blocks, 206th in steals

A smooth operator on the wing as a scorer, George Gervin could fill it up with the best of them despite lacking much of a three-point shot. He is best remembered for his beautiful finger-roll layup, still one of the nicest moves in any player’s arsenal ever.

Clyde Drexler

Clyde Drexler

Top accolades: One NBA title, five All-NBA selections, 10 All-Stars

NBA rank: 8th in steals, 34th in scoring, 36th in assists, 131st in rebounds, 172nd in blocks

Clyde Drexler was a fantastic scorer, rebounder and playmaker for his position, while also using his athleticism well defensively.

Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller celebrates

Top accolades: Three All-NBA 3rd Team selections, five All-Stars

NBA rank: 22nd in scoring, 50th in steals, 113th in assists

One of the finest shooters ever, Reggie Miller ranks fourth in league history in made three-pointers (2,560). He was also extremely clutch about his shot-making, with a career highlight tape featuring multiple game-winning threes from high-pressure postseason contests.

Ray Allen

Ray Allen vs. Tim Duncan

Top accolades: Two NBA titles, two All-NBA selections, 10 All-Stars

NBA rank: 25th in scoring, 53rd in steals, 94th in assists, 244th in rebounds

Had his peak come 20 years later, it’s fascinating to ponder what Ray Allen’s numbers might have looked like, as his bombastic style of play consisting of shooting a ton of threes would have fit wonderfully in today’s NBA. Still, Allen carved out a Hall-of-Fame career in his era anyway as one of the best shooters ever.

Vince Carter

Vince Carter, Toronto Raptors

Top accolades: Two All-NBA selections, eight All-Stars

NBA rank: 19th in scoring, 44th in steals, 77th in assists, 126th in blocks, 141st in rebounds

Aside from being one of the most explosive dunkers in league history, Vince Carter was a productive player for 22 years – something that not many could have expected considering how reliant on athleticism he was during his prime.

Earl Monroe

Top accolades: One NBA title, one All-NBA 1st Team, four All-Stars, one Rookie of the Year award

NBA rank: 89th in scoring, 156th in assists

Nicknamed The PearlEarl Monroe was a smooth ball-handler and scorer from the midrange, who could stop on a dime and knock down jumpers with aplomb. His accolades and production don’t speak to how well-respected he was as a player, with his game being one of the original confident guards who scored with creativity. A lot of players of later generations modeled their games after him, so his influence was huge.

Tracy McGrady

Top accolades: Seven All-NBA selections, seven All-Stars, one Most Improved Player award

NBA rank: 73rd in scoring, 111th in assists, 148th in blocks, 243rd in rebounds

A more impressive playoff career (he never made it out of the first round in his prime) could have greatly changed where Tracy McGrady finished in this ranking, as could have more longevity. But at his peak, McGrady was one of the most explosive and productive do-everything wings in basketball, one who would have dominated in the modern NBA.

Hal Greer

Hal Greer

Top accolades: One NBA title, seven All-NBA 2nd Team selections, 10 All-Stars

NBA rank: 37th in scoring, 87th in assists, 208th in rebounds

One of the best and underrated guards of the 1960s, Hal Greer was an All-Star 10 times that decade and an All-NBA 2nd Teamer seven times, helping lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a championship in 1966-67 alongside Chamberlain in what was one of the most slept-on guard-big duos in league history.

Sam Jones

Sam Jones

Top accolades: 10 NBA titles, three All-NBA 2nd Team selections, five All-Stars

NBA rank: 133rd in scoring

The go-to scorer for the Celtics dynasty of the 1960s, Sam Jones was also an extremely clutch performer who always managed to deliver in the playoffs. Jones also had a very accurate jump shot, a rarity for players of his era, even the guards.

Klay Thompson

Top accolades: Four NBA titles, two All-NBA 3rd Team selections, five All-Stars, one All-Defensive 2nd Team selection

NBA rank: 235th in scoring

His all-time statistics may have been the primary reason why he didn’t make the final NBA75 list, but it must be taken into account that Klay Thompson missed two full seasons in the midst of his prime due to injury, and even with that, he has made five All-Star rosters and won four championships while already ranking Top 20 all-time in three-pointers. If Thompson can return and eventually regain his elite form, his place in all-time standings will shoot up.

Manu Ginobili 🇦🇷

Top accolades: Four NBA titles, two All-NBA 3rd Team selections, two All-Stars, one-time Sixth Man of the Year

NBA rank: 60th steals, 120th in assists, 180th in points

A confident, energetic scorer, Manu Ginobili was able to get buckets in a variety of ways, including slashing to the rim, finishing over big men and hitting step-back threes in foes’ faces. The Argentine southpaw was a natural leader on the court with great quickness in his prime and helped make the Euro step a common move in the NBA.

Dennis Johnson

Top accolades: Three NBA titles, one Finals MVO, two All-NBA selections, five All-Stars, six All-Defensive 1st Team selections

NBA rank: 51st in assists and steals, 131st in scoring

One of the best defensive guards ever, Dennis Johnson was s somewhat shocking omission from the NBA75 list. Johnson had an offensive game, too, as he was an elite playmaker at the combo-guard spot. Johnson had superstar potential but had the selflessness to accept a role player position on the Celtics dynasty of the 1980s.

Joe Dumars

Top accolades: Two NBA titles, one Finals MVP, three All-NBA selections, six All-Stars, six All-Defensive selections

NBA rank: 82nd in assists, 106th in scoring, 230th in steals

An elite defender out of the backcourt, Joe Dumars was a pivotal part of the Bad Boys Pistons dynasty who won back-to-back championships in the late ’80s. Dumars was a fantastic glue guy on many elite teams in his career, one who could knock down jumpers off the dribble in the mid-range at a high level. Also an underrated playmaker.

Bill Sharman

Bill Sharman

Top accolades: Four NBA titles, four All-NBA 1st Team selections, eight All-Stars

NBA rank: 233rd in scoring

One of the NBA’s first shooting specialists, Bill Sharman could knock down jumpers from deep in his prime, and was an important member of various elite Celtics teams in his heyday. High basketball IQ, too, as evidenced by his becoming a successful head coach after his playing days.

Gail Goodrich

Gail Goodrich, Los Angeles Lakers

Top accolades: One NBA title, one All-NBA 1st Team selection, five All-Stars

NBA rank: 61st in scoring, 75th in assists

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