A shooting guard scores the bulk of a team’s points and heavily contributes to his team’s
overall success. A few days ago, I ranked who I believe are the five best point guards in the NBA. Now, I will rank who I believe are the best shooting guards.
5. Stephen Curry- Curry is in his fifth year with the Golden State Warriors. The 24 year old sharp shooter is averaging 21 points per game, shooting 45.2 percent from three point range. Curry is the leader of a young, high-powered Golden State team that is on pace to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-2007 season.
4. Dwayne Wade- Unfortunately, Wade’s prime is in the past. The 31 year old has been affected by injuries throughout his career, more notably in the past three years. However, Wade remains an astonishing player, with two championships on his resumè. In his 10 year career, Wade is averaging 24.9 points per game along with 6.1 assists and 5 rebounds. This year, though, Wade is recording his lowest figures since his rookie season. Come playoff time, Dwayne normally steps-up his game and significantly increases his effort. Wade and the Miami Heat are first and the Eastern Conference.
3. Andre Iguodala- In his career, Andre has been averaging 15.2 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists. In recent years, the two time Olympic gold medalist has not been playing well. This year, he is only scoring 13.4 points per game and does not put up impressive numbers in other categorites. He may not put up the highest stats, but Andre Iguodala’s presence impacts the game as much as any player in the NBA. His defensive awareness and all around effort make Iguodala one of the top guards in the league. Iguodala is leading an uprising Denver Nuggets squad towards the playoffs.
2. Kobe Bryant- Over the course of his 17 year Hall of Fame career, Bryant is averaging 25.5 points per game, and three of those years he had averaged over 30. This year, Kobe is putting up 28.1 points per game to go along with 4.3 rebounds. Plus, Bryant is starting to pass more than shoot. At a late time in his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe is beginning to expand his game even more in order to help his team win ball games. The struggling Lakers are currently four games back of a playoff spot, as Kobe Bryant attempts to give L.A. a late push.
1. James Harden- This may come as surprise to most people. To me, I see no reason as to why Harden is not the best shooting guard in the NBA. Last year with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden was the guy with the beard who had a tacky celebration after hitting a three pointer. Now, he has the Houston Rockets on track for a playoff spot. In just months, Harden has adjusted and matured his game. He went from averaging 16.8 points per game last season to 25.9 this year. Harden is also averaging 3.5 rebounds per game and 4.4 assists per game. He may have the team on his shoulders, but with Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, James Harden is trying to carry the Rockets to the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Some notable mentions are Paul George and Joe Johnson, but they are yet to establish themselves as dominant guards in the NBA. The shooting guard is typically the X-Factor in games, but the NBA has been dominated by the small forward position in recent years. Next, I will rank the top five small forwards in the league.
James Harden is the talk of the NBA. Last year with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden proved to be the best sixth man in the league, heavily contributing to his team’s scoring. He was a part of a young team that cruised to the Finals last year, but were devastated after losing to LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Harden is a spectacular player. Some think he is so spectacular that he should have been starting in the Finals. James was stuck behind the shadows of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook last season. Yes he was popular, but there is a difference between starting a game and coming off the bench. Now, the 23 year old has a new home. James Harden is now the Houston Rockets’ go-to-guy, and is fulfilling his new role.
The Houston Rockets were predicted to finish dead last in the Western Conference this year. Houston picked up the most hyped player last year in Jeremy Lin, but there was still no hope for the Rockets. The team appeared as though they would enter an era with a multitude of losing seasons, and with no hope of rebuilding. Now, fake beards are sweeping Houston as James Harden is leading a once hopeless team, into a team who could possibly make the playoffs. Harden has the ropes in his hand, and is doing what he has to do to turn the Houston Rockets into a winning team.
James Harden has established himself as a truly elite player in the NBA. He hits clutch three pointers and can control any game at his own pace. He is a 23 year old playing like an experienced veteran. It is simply jaw-dropping. Harden played as well as he possibly could have in last year’s playoffs. When the Thunder reached the Finals, however, James showed his immaturity. He missed shot after shot, made stupid decisions, and even missed a breakaway layup. He was choking, and it was hard to watch. However, that was then, and this is now. Fresh off of a gold medal win in the London Olympics, Harden is more wise, and is playing the game at a higher level. In three seasons in Oklahoma City, Harden scored over 30 points in only three games. After eight games in Houston, he has scored 30 or more points in three games. James Harden is downright scary to a defense. He can attack the rim and finish strong, or pull it out and drain a three. Not only can he score, but he is one of the quickest players in the league and can dart past almost any player. James Harden has clearly seized and taken the opportunity to lead a team like Houston.
All in all, Harden is just a kid. A kid with a grizzly beard and talent like no other. Kids adore him for the beard and his signature look when he scores a deep three. Harden leans over and puts down three fingers while sticking his tongue out while jogging down the floor. His inner child shows, but it all contributes to his momentum and on-court swagger. It seems like basketball analysts across the country critique Harden so harshly. They forget he is so young because of how well he plays. This is a man who is already a good player, but could become a great player. Over the next few years, James Harden will blossom and be a threat to anyone in the world. To all NBA teams, Fear the Beard.