A Look at The Top Ten NBA Shooting Guards of The 2012-13 Season
Michael Jordan Paved The Way For Today's Shooting Guards
The evolution of the shooting guard position in the NBA has been a sight to see over the decades.
The transformation of the league from one that was oriented towards centers to one oriented around guards has allowed the shooting guard position to come to the forefront. This was accelerated by the era of Michael Jordan’s dominance in the 1990s. Add to that the popularity of the street ball circuits such as And-1 and you come up with the style of play adopted by today’s generation of guards.
Today shooting guards have to be instant offense to start for most teams. There are always exceptions made for defensive players such as Thabo Sefolosha of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Keith Bogans when he played for the Chicago Bulls. However those two players are not stars.
Star shooting guards can penetrate the paint. They can change the tempo of the game. They can outrun almost everyone on the court on a fast break. They are balanced on offense and defense. They can either start or come off the bench and have the same impact. Most of all, they can will their teams to a win.
This season the top shooting guards are a mix between the old guard and the new breed. They are bench players and longtime franchise players. Some are even now being thrown into the fire of being the first team option either by trade or injury.
Meet the top shooting guards coming into the 2012-13 NBA season.
10.) Monta Ellis (Milwaukee Bucks)
Few players in the league are as athletic as Monta Ellis.
That athleticism along with his other best skill on the court, scoring, was on full display when he was with the Golden State Warriors. That has dropped off slightly since he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks as he adjusted to a new team.
Ellis is a tough assignment for most other shooting guards due to his quickness. He unfortunately does lack defensive play due to his size.
9.) Ray Allen (Miami Heat)
He may be 37 years old, but Ray Allen is still one of the fittest players in the NBA.
A perennial starter for the Boston Celtics until last season due to injury, Allen has used his conditioning to become the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history. Now coming off the bench for the Miami Heat, he doesn't have to play as much and is can still be effective on defense and in the paint.
Playing alongside LeBron James doesn't hurt either.
8.) Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
Watching Paul George play for the Indiana Pacers just screams potential.
George is athletic, can play defense, has a three-point shot, and can flat out dunk. These skills make him one of the brightest spots for the Pacers. George has enough skills to in time become the true heir apparent to Reggie Miller in Indiana. The question has always been when he will be ready to take that next step.
George may not have a choice in the matter this season as Indiana's best player, Danny Granger, is out for three months due to injury.
7.) Kevin Martin (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Kevin Martin can flat out score, but that's about all he can do.
Martin is always an offensive threat when he's on the floor. Unfortunately he lacks a complete all around game that could make him a cornerstone franchise player. Martin is more of a role player that can flourish on a team that has a superstar core. He is now in that very situation with the Thunder thanks to a trade.
Martin does have big shoes to fill on Oklahoma City, but with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as his teammates the transition should be fine.
6.) Manu Gonobili (San Antonio Spurs)
The way that Manu Ginobili plays on the court can be summed up in two words: controlled chaos.
That style of play has made him an invaluable piece of the San Antonio Spurs core. Whether he is starting or coming off the bench Ginobili has been both effective to the Spurs and an enigma to his opponents. His all around game has been perfected thanks in large to his international play for his native Argentina.
He may see his play lessened somewhat for only one reason. The NBA has decided to crack down on flopping and Ginobili is among the biggest floppers in the league.
5.) Andre Iguodala (Denver Nuggets)
If you only value shooting, Andre Iguodala isn't your guy. If you value ball handling, playmaking, and defense he is your man.
Iguodala is like a Swiss Army knife when he is on the floor. He has the size to play both the two and three on defense and can move real well with the ball. The only issue with him has been a lack of a consistent shooting stroke. That was a problem when he was on an offense lacking Philadelphia 76ers team. That has changed thanks to a trade that sent him to the Denver Nuggets who are loaded in firepower.
Now Iguodala can focus on what he does best, lock down the opposing team's best scorer.
4.) Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets)
In the Summer of 2010 Joe Johnson signed a contract he will never live up to dollar wise.
That contract has hung around Johnson's neck since he signed it and it has come to define him. Whether good or bad, that contract has overshadowed that fact that Johnson is a real good overall player. Even as he led the Atlanta Hawks to the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff standings the two seasons since 2010. Unfortunately for him he wasn't able to lead the Hawks on a deep run. That burden was lifted off his shoulders when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
He could see a renaissance season thanks in part to sharing the back court with one of the NBA's best point guards in Deron Williams.
3.) James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Rarely does a player play like he wants to prove he's every cent worth of a new contract. James Harden is that rarity right now.
Harden was fine with being the third of the Thunder 'Big 3' that came off the bench and provided instant offense. He just wanted for Oklahoma City to pay him what he felt he was worth. The problem was that the Thunder simply couldn't afford to pay him. So just days before the season began Harden was traded to Houston and got the contract he wanted. The situations were drastically different though. Harden went from being the sixth man on a title contender to the number one option of a team trying to get back in the playoffs.
So far, that situation suits him just fine as he has played like an early season MVP candidate.
2.) Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
The intensity, the obsession, the stare. Those are the trdemarks of Kobe Bryant throughout his career.
Bryant's almost maniacal desire to at least tie Jordan when it comes to championships has pushed his to be arguably the best shooting guard in the NBA during his entire career. His competitive nature has been his greatest asset in winning five championships. It has also become his greatest detriment has it has led to many ill advised 'hero shots' that the Los Angeles Lakers didn't need. That situation will be closely watched as Los Angeles tries to incorporate Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to the Laker core. Another factor will be how much Father Time has caught up to him.
Bryant's situation is now confounded more by the firing of Lakers head coack Mike Brown and the possible return of Phil Jackson.
1.) Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)
Much like Bryant, Dwyane Wade has a competitive streak matched by few. However, he does have two factors going for him that put him over Bryant on this list. Those two factors are time and stability.
Even as he is coming off surgery, Wade still doesn't have as much mileage in his legs as Bryant. He also doesn't have as many core players to try to implement as Brynat does. Those two factors allow Wade to play his style of paint penetration and defense that he is used to. The slow motion Euro-step that is Wade's trademark looks to be completely back. That also means the he can continue on his quest to become the greatest blocking guard in NBA history.
Also, like Allen, playing alongside the league MVP in James doesn't hurt.