Ranking the Top 22 shooting guards for the 2021-22 season

Ranking the Top 22 shooting guards for the 2021-22 season

Ranking

Ranking the Top 22 shooting guards for the 2021-22 season

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It’s time for Part 2 of our 2021-22 position rankings series.

In case you missed it, last week, we released Part 1, which was a ranking of the Top 22 Point Guards in the NBA for the 2021-22 season.

This time around, we’re taking a look at the 2-guards, a top-heavy position in the NBA but one with a lot of talented specialists in its midst.

For this exercise, we had each of our writers and editors put together their own lists of top shooting guards and aggregated out the averages to rank the players.

Granted, some of the players below could have easily been listed as point guards or small forwards, but we had our reasons for putting them as shooting guards, as you’ll read below.

Just missed the cut: Jalen Green, Kevin Huerter, Tyler Herro, Kevin Porter Jr., Josh Hart

22
Gary Trent Jr. (Toronto)

2020-21 stats: 15.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 2.8 3PTM, 38.5 3PT%

Gary Trent Jr. has only been a proven commodity for roughly two seasons, as it wasn’t until midway through last January as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers that the former Duke Blue Devil started to consistently put up noteworthy numbers.

Nevertheless, Trent Jr. has proven to be a trustworthy outside shooter since then, knocking down 39.7 percent of his threes over the past two campaigns, as well as a capable off-the-dribble scorer.

Still not even 23 years old and coming off his best season as a professional, there’s a more than solid chance that Trent Jr. has an even higher ceiling to reach thanks to his shooting prowess, and he’ll have every chance to prove that as the Toronto Raptors’ starting 2-guard in 2021-22.

For the latest Gary Trent Jr. rumors, click here.

21
Seth Curry (Philadelphia)

2020-21 stats: 12.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.2 3PTM, 45.0 3PT%

In what can only be labeled one of the worst trades of the past year, the Dallas Mavericks gave away Seth Curry ahead of the 2020-21 season, sending the former Duke standout to the Philadelphia 76ers and receiving a package of Josh Richardson and the 36th pick in the 2020 draft, who ended up being Tyler Bey, in return.

Amazingly, less than a year later, both Richardson and Bey are already gone from Dallas.

Meanwhile, Curry, already considered one of the best snipers in the Association prior to the move to the Sixers, blossomed in his first year with Philadelphia, doing what he does best last season, which is to shoot the basketball at extremely high levels.

Curry hit 45.0 percent of his threes in 2020-21, the fifth-best mark among players with at least 250 outside opportunities. The 31-year-old also ranked in the 85th percentile league-wide in overall offense, according to Synergy Sports, a mark healthy enough to put him in the “excellent” category as a scorer.

Curry was monstrous in the last playoffs, too, upping his scoring to 18.8 points over 12 games and hitting 50.6 percent of his 6.8 nightly three-point attempts, bombarding opponents with his shooting, both with his feet set and off of one or two dribbles.

The younger Curry brother will always be physically and athletically limited, but he’s so gifted as a shooter and quietly crafty with his footwork that we still project him to be a Top 20 shooting guard in basketball this upcoming season.

For the latest Seth Curry rumors, click here.

20
Duncan Robinson (Miami)

2020-21 stats: 13.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 3.5 3PTM, 40.8 3PT%

One of the very best shooters in basketball, Duncan Robinson has been lighting it up from beyond the arc since breaking out with the Miami Heat in 2019-20.

Over the past two seasons, Robinson is knocking down a pristine 42.7 percent of his three-point attempts, the seventh-best mark of any player with at least 500 outside shot attempts in that stretch. Robinson has also shown much improvement in finding ways to score from inside the arc, gaining confidence as a backdoor cutter last season and finishing around the rim at respectable levels.

He may still be defensively limited and not provide that much outside of his shooting, but Robinson is so good within his role that the Heat re-signed him to a long-term contract this past offseason that could pay him up to $89.9 million over five years.

Robinson will now be the 83rd-highest-paid player in the league this year, a salary very much befitting a man of his skill set.

For the latest Duncan Robinson rumors, click here.

19
Malik Beasley (Minnesota)

2020-21 stats: 19.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 3.5 3PTM, 39.9 3PT%

Off-court mishaps aside, Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Malik Beasley has blossomed into of the better young guards in basketball since joining the team midway through 2019-20.

Not only did the former Florida State Seminole average nearly 20 points nightly last season, he did so quite efficiently, ranking in the 95th percentile in the NBA as a spot-up shooter, per Synergy Sports, scoring 1.30 points per possession (PPP) on those opportunities. For reference, that’s a higher mark than Stephen Curry (1.29 PPP on spot-up shots last season).

And unlike some of the other players we already discussed in these rankings, Beasley is more than just a spot-up shooter.

He also possesses a lot of athleticism, which he uses well in transition (Beasley was in the 80th percentile in transition scoring last season, according to Synergy Sports) and defensively.

Overall, Minnesota did well to pick up the young 2-guard in a trade from the Denver Nuggets, and spacing the floor around Karl-Anthony TownsD’Angelo Russell and another shooting guard coming up later on this list, Beasley should thrive in 2021-22.

For the latest Malik Beasley rumors, click here.

18
Tim Hardaway Jr. (Dallas)

2020-21 stats: 16.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.8 apg, 3.0 3PTM, 39.1 3PT%

Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Tim Hardaway Jr. possesses the rare ability to be able to get hot from beyond the arc at a moment’s notice, go on quick tears and put up barrages of points.

Hardaway Jr. has also developed a very solid off-the-dribble scoring game, as his quick one-dribble pull-up jumper can be deadly at times. Even his defense has come a long way, as Hardaway Jr. does a much better job these days of being physical, moving his feet and using his length to bother opponents.

Hardaway Jr. may not be a star, but for what projects to be a tough and talented Mavericks team in 2021-22, Hardaway Jr. can be a star in his role as an off-ball scorer who can take some of the offensive load off of Luka Doncic for stretches at a time.

For the latest Tim Hardaway Jr. rumors, click here.

17
Dillon Brooks (Memphis)

2020-21 stats: 17.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.2 spg, 41.9 FG%

Never one to lack in confidence, Dillon Brooks has come a long way since his rookie year to becoming the player he is today, a tough-nosed defender who can do some scoring off the dribble.

In particular, it’s defensively where the 6-foot-7 shooting guard shines, as Brooks has developed into one of the most tenacious backcourt players on the less glamorous end of the floor, capable of guarding multiple positions and never taking a second off when the other team has the ball.

Brooks even received some All-Defensive Team votes after his 2020-21 contributions on that end, and more should be on the way next season as long as he maintains that level of intensity going forward.

What Brooks needs to do in order to outpace the projection we have for him in 2021-22 is to become a more consistent scorer. Although the former Oregon Duck just set a career-high scoring mark last season, he’s still a bit inconsistent as a bucket-getter, going cold for long stretches, especially from beyond the arc, and often getting blinders when he touches the ball.

If Brooks is able to become a more accurate outside marksman and realizes he’s allowed to pass when he touches the ball on offense, he could have an even better year in 2021-22.

For the latest Dillon Brooks rumors, click here.

16
Cade Cunningham (Detroit)

The first rookie we’ve ranked in either position we’ve looked at so far, the Detroit Pistons’ Cade Cunningham will be facing a lot of pressure in his first season in the NBA after being the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, but based on his immense talent level and potential, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Cunningham is smooth with the ball, nearly impossible to speed up or get out of rhythm, possesses a pretty jumper and loves to set up teammates for easy opportunities. He’s a crafty ball-handler and a more-than-capable finisher around the basket with either hand.

Most impressively, Cunningham should be a beast right away out of the pick-and-roll, as his basketball IQ is far beyond his years and he has great vision for creating buckets.

Still, the NBA is never kind to first-year players, particularly ball-handling lead guards like Cunningham, and his lack of explosiveness could be an issue as he figures out the NBA game.

Nevertheless, Cunningham is too talented not to figure things out quickly, and we expect that to happen early on in his first season.

For the latest Cade Cunningham rumors, click here.

15
Buddy Hield (Sacramento)

2020-21 stats: 16.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.6 apg, 4.0 3PTM, 39.1 3PT%

Despite some ups-and-downs over recent seasons, Buddy Hield has nonetheless proven to be one of the better 2-guards in the NBA as a member of the Sacramento Kings thanks mostly to his jump shot.

Hield isn’t only reliable shooting it from beyond the arc with his feet set, but he can pull up from deep as well as knock down jumpers off the dribble when facing hard closeouts, making him a legit threat as a scorer and not just a role-playing outside shooter who needs to be spoonfed open looks.

As far as projecting his 2021-22 campaign, it’ll be interesting to see how Hield handles being back in Sacramento after coming painfully close to being traded to a Los Angeles Lakers team with championship aspirations.

Will he come out totally disinterested off the bat, looking ready to join a contender at the trade deadline? Or will he continue being a professional, and play hard for Sacramento?

The latter outcome would be more likely if the Kings finally turn the corner and look like a potential playoff team early on in 2021-22, a possibility considering the immense talents of Hield’s backcourt partner, De’Aaron Fox.

But if Sacramento struggles again, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hield’s name continue popping up in trade rumors.

For the latest Buddy Hield rumors, click here.

14
Tyrese Haliburton (Sacramento)

2020-21 stats: 13.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.1 3PTM, 40.9 3PT%

If the Kings are to exceed expectations next season, a jump will be required from second-year player Tyrese Haliburton, who we decided to list as a shooting guard for our exercise based on how much he played off the ball to Fox in 2020-21.

Even in that off-ball role, however, Haliburton flashed a ton of skill, not just capably knock down triples at a high level, but also still creating a multitude of opportunities for teammates despite not possessing anywhere near as much of the ball as Fox.

Haliburton played with a level of confidence and intelligence unbecoming of his age last year, and even if we project a modest uptick in ability and production for the 21-year-old next campaign, the Kings will have a very promising player on their hands in 2021-22.

Pair that with a player as nasty as Fox and a shooter as proven as Hield, and it’s easy to see Sacramento having their best season in a while next year, as long as Haliburton does progress in his development the way we expect him to.

For the latest Tyrese Haliburton rumors, click here.

13
Bogdan Bogdanovic (Atlanta)

2020-21 stats: 16.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 3.3 3PTM, 43.8 3PT%

When the Milwaukee Bucks were indicted as having tampered in their efforts to land Bogdan Bogdanovic, many wondered why they’d go to such extents to land a player who had averaged 13.5 points and shot 37.4 percent from three through three NBA seasons.

Bogdanovic answered those questions explosively last season, his first with the Atlanta Hawks, posting the best campaign of his NBA career, shooting nearly 44.0 percent from three and scoring a career-best 16.4 points nightly.

Synergy Sports ranked Bogdanovic in 2020-21 as an “excellent” offensive player, placing in the 88th percentile as an overall scorer statistically. Bogdanovic was at his best as a spot-up shooter (93rd percentile, 1.27 PPP) and as the pick-and-roll ball-handler (83rd percentile, 1.01 PPP), per Synergy Sports, exemplifying what a fantastic amount of balance his bucket-getting game has.

Further, consider Bogdanovic’s propensity for hitting important shots at crucial times and you have the makings of an extremely impactful 2-guard, one of the very best in the Eastern Conference, and a vital piece for a Hawks team that heads into next season with a lot of expectations.

For the latest Bogdan Bogdanovic rumors, click here.

12
Anthony Edwards (Minnesota)

2020-21 stats: 19.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.4 3PTM, 41.7 FG%

After a painfully slow start to his rookie campaign, Anthony Edwards did a far better job of showing why he was the No. 1 pick of the 2020 draft during the second half of 2020-21.

From mid-March through the end of the season, a 34-game stretch, Edwards showed explosive scoring ability, averaging 23.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals on improved 45.4/34.6/76.6 percent shooting splits, hitting three-pointers over tight contests, getting to the basket and finishing in traffic and, most impressively, throwing down monster dunks over far taller defenders.

As far as pure talent, Edwards has it in spades, as he possesses a great nose for scoring, a solid jumper and elite-level athleticism, he’ll just have to put it all together on a consistent basis to live up to his All-NBA potential.

If Edwards plays for the entirety of 2021-22 at the level of his rookie-year second half, it’ll be a huge step forward in his development and set him up for a monstrous third season in 2022-23. We think he’s more than capable of doing just that, as you can tell by his place in this ranking.

For the latest Anthony Edwards rumors, click here.

11
Collin Sexton (Cleveland)

2020-21 stats: 24.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.6 3PTM, 47.5 FG%

A player capable of manning either backcourt spot, we decided to list Collin Sexton as a 2-guard for our exercise based on how much he played off the ball last season alongside Darius Garland, with Basketball-Reference saying that Sexton played shooting guard 57 percent of his time on the floor last year.

Playing more off the ball was part of what helped Sexton break out to the extent he did in his third season, as the former Alabama standout averaged over 24.0 points nightly and posted his best career campaign according to most of the advanced metrics.

The fact that Sexton was able to just play his game and worry less about running the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense and setting up teammates went a long way in his explosive third campaign.

Even so, Sexton still needs to work on distributing the ball and getting teammates involved more consistently, as every so often, you hear whispers out of Cleveland that members of the Cavaliers are frustrated with the young guard.

If he’s able to hone that in a bit, Sexton could get himself closer to the elite of the 2-guard position. As is, he’s not all that far from there, at least if our rankings are to be trusted.

For the latest Collin Sexton rumors, click here.

10
RJ Barrett (New York)

2020-21 stats: 17.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.7 3PTM, 40.1 3PT%

A player who saw a sizeable jump in production and efficiency from his rookie year to his sophomore campaign was New York Knicks 2-guard RJ Barrett, who just cracks the Top 10 of our ranking based on our expectation that we’ll see another jump out of him in 2021-22.

The area where Barrett most improved was as an outside shooter, where the Canadian went from shooting 32.0 percent in his first year to an impressive 40.1 percent in 2019-20 on much higher volume.

Barrett also cut slightly back on turnovers and upped his free-throw accuracy, though more work is needed in the latter respect, as Barrett doesn’t get to the foul line nearly enough for a high-level scorer and when he does get there, shoots only 74.6 percent.

Another vital area for Barrett’s development is as a finisher around the paint. According to NBA.com, among players with at least 300 field-goal attempts from within five feet of the basket last season, Barrett’s 52.8 percent on such shots was the second-lowest success rate. It goes without saying, that’s a brutal mark, especially for a young player with a level of athleticism such as Barrett’s.

If Barrett can improve his finishing down low (developing a more reliable right hand would be a great start), it wouldn’t be shocking for him to become a 20-point-per-game scorer at some point soon, perhaps as early as next season.

For the latest RJ Barrett rumors, click here.

9
Caris LeVert (Indiana)

2020-21 stats: 20.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.4 spg, 44.1 FG%

From a cancer scare sidelining him for a good portion of last season to putting up over 20 points per contest over the final 35 games of the season with the Indiana Pacers, Caris LeVert’s journey in 2020-21 was nothing short of inspirational.

Now fully healthy and given the reigns to be a team’s top perimeter scoring option for pretty much the first time in his prime, 2021-22 could be a big campaign for the 27-year-old with five years of service in the NBA.

Even after coming back from the health issues he had last season, LeVert still ranked in the “good” range as both a pick-and-roll scorer and in transition, per Synergy Sports, as a member of the Pacers, with the former area being where the creative scorer really thrives.

LeVert’s blend of herky-jerky movements and creativity as a passer makes him a load to slow down when running the pick-and-roll, a statement backed up by LeVert’s 74th percentile score, according to Synergy, as a pick-and-roll playmaker (passes included along with scoring opportunities).

LeVert produced 1.031 PPP on pick-and-roll sets (passes included) last season with the Pacers, a better mark than LeBron James (1.014) and Brandon Ingram (1.018), among other stars, proving just how effective he was on those chances.

With a full offseason and preseason to settle in even further with Indiana, we expect big things out of LeVert in 2021-22, especially if he can get his three-point shooting back up to 2019-20 levels when he hit 36.4 percent of his outside opportunities.

For the latest Caris LeVert rumors, click here.

8
Klay Thompson (Golden State)

One of the most exciting aspects of the upcoming 2021-22 NBA campaign will be the return of star 2-guard Klay Thompson, who should be making his return to action after being out since mid-June, 2019 due to multiple major injuries, including one to his ACL and another to his Achilles.

The latest reports indicate that the Golden State Warriors are shooting for Christmas Day to be Thompson’s target return date, meaning his absence would be nearly two-and-half years long from when he last played, which gave us some pause as far as where to rank him in this exercise.

If Thompson looks like his vintage self next season, there’s no doubt he’d far outpace his place on this list, as a healthy Thompson is arguably a Top 5 shooting guard in the game, if not higher, thanks to his awesome mix of historically great outside shooting and tough multi-positional defending.

There’s just no guarantee we’ll see that version of Thompson, at least not right away in 2021-22.

Here’s hoping he does, however, as Thompson is one of the most likeable stars in the game and no elite athlete deserves to have their prime years ripped as he did.

For the latest Klay Thompson rumors, click here.

7
CJ McCollum (Portland)

2020-21 stats: 23.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.7 apg, 3.6 3PTM, 40.2 3PT%

From the second year of his career up until 2019-20, Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum attempted 66.2 percent of his shot attempts from two-point range versus 33.8 percent of his shots coming from beyond the arc.

McCollum changed that in a big way last season, however, attempting just 52.5 percent of his shots from two-point range while putting up a career-high 47.5 percent of his shots from three.

The results were astounding, as McCollum put up the best swing rating of his career in 2020-21 (Portland was 6.7 points per 100 possessions better with their starting 2-guard on the floor), scored a career-best 23.1 points per game while also grading out with the highest Box Plus/Minus (+3.3) and Win Shares per 48 Minutes (0.141) of his time in the NBA.

McCollum is the perfect case study for modern basketball where we saw firsthand how much more effective a player can be if they just change in their deep two-point attempts for three-pointers, and if other All-Star-level players like McCollum do similarly, they might see comparable results.

Of course, that would require they be as deadly shooting the basketball as McCollum is, especially off the dribble, and not many players in the league are as good as the Blazers guard in that respect.

For the latest CJ McCollum rumors, click here.

6
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City)

2020-21 stats: 23.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.9 apg, 2.0 3PTM, 41.8 3PT%

Possessing almost artistic footwork and a pristine jump shot, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the most exciting young guards we have in the game today, one who appears to be on a monstrously high upward trajectory without much sign of slowing down.

Efficiency-wise, very few players can match what Gilgeous-Alexander already is as a scorer at just 23 years old, as Synergy Sports ranked the Oklahoma City Thunder 2-guard in the 80th percentile on offense for 2020-21.

Gilgeous-Alexander also received an “excellent” rating as a pick-and-roll ball-handler last season, sitting in the 94th percentile after producing 1.116 PPP on those opportunities. Among players with at least 300 possessions running the pick-and-roll, only Stephen Curry himself scored more PPP than Gilgeous-Alexander in 2020-21, a ridiculously impressive feat for the still-blossoming shooting guard.

In addition, Gilgeous-Alexander also ranked as an excellent scorer coming off screens and received “very good” ratings as an iso scorer, as a spot-up shooter and on put-backs.

Granted, Gilgeous-Alexander did only suit up in 35 games for the Thunder last season before going down with injury, so his numbers could have skewed south with a larger sample size. But, as you can tell by his ranking on this list, we expect Gilgeous-Alexander to be similarly impactful in 2021-22, if not perhaps even better.

He was that impressive last season.

For the latest Shai Gilgeous-Alexander rumors, click here.

5
Zach LaVine (Chicago)

2020-21 stats: 27.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.9 apg, 3.4 3PTM, 41.9 3PT%

Any way you slice it, Zach LaVine had the best season of his career in 2020-21, putting up career-high marks in points, rebounds, assists and three-point shooting, as well as in various key advanced metrics, both of the catch-all and per-game variety.

As such, LaVine cracked the Top 5 of this ranking, a deserving honor for a player who has blossomed into one of the very best 2-guards in the game over recent years.

The fact that LaVine followed up his strong season with the Chicago Bulls by being one of the most important players for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics speaks highly of his ability to reach an even higher level in 2021-22, as LaVine proved he can contribute to winning basketball as an Olympian.

In particular, his defense looked as stingy and tough as ever over the summer, and if LaVine just can carry that effort over into a full NBA campaign, he could be able to cement himself as a perennial All-Star going forward.

For the latest Zach LaVine rumors, click here.

4
Donovan Mitchell (Utah)

2020-21 stats: 26.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.2 apg, 3.4 3PTM, 38.6 3PT%

If there were ever questions about Donovan Mitchell being a high-scoring but low-impact-to-winning player, they were answered with aplomb last season, when the talented 2-guard led the Utah Jazz to a campaign in which they were No. 1 in the NBA in wins as well as in net rating.

Mitchell answered those questions even more emphatically in the playoffs when he was able to take his game to an even higher level, putting up 32.3 points on 44.7 percent shooting from the floor and 43.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc over 10 games against elite competition.

The analytics might still not be totally in love with him, as Mitchell averages out to roughly a Top 30 position in metrics like Box Plus/Minus, Value Over Replacement Player and Win Shares, but his playoff performances over recent years, explosive scoring ability and ridiculous bounce all lead us to one conclusion: Donovan Mitchell is one of the best shooting guards in basketball.

And he’s still got a chance to get even better.

For the latest Donovan Mitchell rumors, click here.

3
Devin Booker (Phoenix)

2020-21 stats: 25.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.9 3PTM, 48.4 FG%

Perhaps no player changed the perception around them as much as Devin Booker did this past season, going from being a guy considered by the critics to be a great-stats-on-a-bad-team player to being one of the driving forces in an extremely impressive run to the Finals for the Phoenix Suns.

No longer can anyone question Booker’s impact on winning, as, without its star shooting guard, there’s no chance Phoenix makes it as far as they did in 2020-21.

And he did so with his three-point shot pretty much abandoning him, as Booker hit just 33.5 percent of his triples between the regular season and playoffs last year, a mark that should bump back up at least a bit in 2021-22 based on the level of shooter Booker has proven to be in his career.

Last season also saw Booker do some of his best scoring out of the pick-and-roll of his career; the former Kentucky standout produced 1.018 PPP out of such sets, a mark healthy enough to place him in the 84th percentile league-wide.

With most of the 2020-21 Suns set to return for another go-around next season, we expect another huge year out of Booker, perhaps even an All-NBA-level campaign from the 24-year-old, which would be the first of his career.

For the latest Devin Booker rumors, click here.

2
Bradley Beal (Washington)

2020-21 stats: 31.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.2 3PTM, 48.5 FG%

Coming off the first All-NBA campaign of his career, Bradley Beal has firmly established himself as the second-best shooting guard in basketball over the past few seasons, making his place in this ranking unsurprising.

Beal ranked second in the league in scoring last year, barraging his opponents out of the pick-and-roll, in isolation and transition, and spotting up with his feet set after coming off screens.

Overall, Beal has become one the most well-rounded explosive scorers in basketball, averaging nearly 31.0 points per game over the past two campaigns.

Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, only the equally explosive Damian Lillard has scored more total points than Beal, 3,906 to 3,619 respectively, which goes to show just how proficient Beal’s bucket-getting has been recently.

The ways he does is scoring – giving full-out effort on every single play, whether he has the ball or not, running around, coming off screens, attacking the basket viciously – has been beyond impressive, too. Frankly, it looks exhausting, so kudos to Beal for being able to play that hard for roughly 36 minutes nightly.

It’s that level of scoring, as well as his underrated playmaking and defense, that has made Beal one of the two best shooting guards in the NBA since 2019-20.

For the latest Bradley Beal rumors, click here.

1
James Harden (Brooklyn)

2020-21 stats: 24.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 10.8 apg, 2.8 3PTM, 46.6 FG%

If we had done these rankings by tier, at the top would be James Harden in a level all on his own followed by every other shooting guard. Harden has been that much better than everyone else at the position for years now, something backed up by just about every metric, advanced or raw, imaginable.

Before we get started, for full disclosure, we went with Harden as a shooting guard as opposed to a point guard for our exercise based on Basketball-Reference’s positional estimates projecting that the 32-year-old spent 43 percent of his time with the Brooklyn Nets at the 2 versus 29 percent at lead guard, as well as due to the fact that if Harden and Kyrie Irving split time running point next campaign, it made more sense to us to list each at their historically more natural positions for our rankings.

Now back to singing Harden’s praises.

If we look at league rankings for the various advanced statistics in 2020-21, the only truly elite player on this entire list is Harden, as even Beal didn’t rank higher than 21st overall in any of Box Plus/Minus, Value Over Replacement Player, Player Efficiency Rating or Win Shares per 48 Minutes.

Harden, on the other hand, ranked seventh in Box Plus/Minus and 10th in Win Shares per 48 Minutes, two per-game metrics that paint a clearer picture of the bearded 2-guard’s impact last season considering how much time he missed with injury.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, either, as Harden has mastered the modern game since coming into his prime, both with his foul-drawing gift and shot selection, avoiding the midrange almost entirely and doing all of his damage from beyond the arc or near the rim instead.

All that’s left for the former league MVP to completely fill his resume is that ever-elusive NBA championship, which could come sooner rather than later considering the expectations surrounding the Nets for 2021-22. They already had the third-ranked point guard in the first edition of this series, Irving, and, spoiler alert, they have a certain small forward who will also likely top the list in his own positional ranking.

Anything less than a title next season would be an utter disappointment for Brooklyn, but even without one, there’s no doubting Harden’s standing as the best shooting guard in the Association.

For the latest James Harden rumors, click here.

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