Los Angeles Lakers

Top Five: Shooting Guards

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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.

NBA.com
NBA.com

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.

Drew Agnello

Is It That Bad?

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When Steve Nash signed with the Los Angeles Lakers on July 11th of last year, Kobe Bryant finally received the true point guard he needed.  After Dwight Howard signed in early August, the Lakers had a roster that seemed to guarantee a Finals appearance.  They would once again run the NBA.  Today, the Clippers have taken over Los Angeles, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the title as the best team in the NBA, and the Los Angeles Lakers have fallen to a 17-24 record.

Metta World Peace believed this Laker team had a serious opportunity to finish with a 73-9 record, never done before in the NBA.  However, that dream was shattered on December 4 against the Houston Rockets, their tenth loss of the season.  Kobe Bryant even said, “Obviously this isn’t working.”  The situation has left many fans of the game scratching their heads, with such a high caliber team, why are the Lakers losing?

Image from Chicago Tribune
Image from Chicago Tribune

The team is fifth overall in the NBA in points per game, scoring an average of 102.6.  They are third in rebounds per game with 45.6.  However, the Lakers turn the ball over an average of 15.4 times per game.  A more notable aspect of the game that the Lakers seem to be struggling with is free throws.  The team shoots an average of 69.4 percent from the line, which is second worst in the NBA.  There have been many instances this season in which missed free throws have cost the Lakers a shot at victory late in games.

Given the offensive struggles, you couldn’t think it could get much worse.  Then you look at the team’s defense.  They are giving up 101.4 points per game, and sport a 1.4 assist to turnover ratio.  With so much size down low, and debatably the fastest backcourt in the division, one still wonders, why aren’t they getting it done?

After 41 games, the answer is simple: the Lakers are not motivated to win.  Their lack of effort on both sides of the ball have cost them numerous games this season.  Those games could come back to haunt the Lakers as they continue to fight for a playoff spot.

Drew Agnello