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15 greatest shooting guards in NBA history

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Everybody knows who the greatest shooting guard of all time is — you could even guess the top three easily. But, after that, the discussion is wide open when ranking the best shooting guards of all time. Do you prefer a shoot-first chucker or a combo guard? Do you want someone who fits in seamlessly with his teammates or a star who runs the show?

Greatest shooting guards of all time

In 15 years, these lists will be impossible to do. NBA positions are becoming more blurred by the season, and it’s hard to define the position of some of our greatest players. LeBron James, Klay Thompson, and James Harden are some of the top players that dominate at multiple positions, making it hard to put them in a box. With that said, here are the best SGs of all time:

15) Devin Booker

If Devin Booker‘s career ended today, he wouldn’t be on this list. It’s a future pick.

Booker is the best shooting guard in the NBA right now, and unlike his contemporaries, he plays defense. While Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal are hijacking their team’s offense, half-assing it on the defensive end, and failing to get their teammates involved, Booker is helping lead one of the best teams in the league.

I do not doubt that Devin Booker will retire as a top-ten shooting guard. Along with being a sick midrange scorer, he shoots 38% from three and can slide into the point guard position without the ball coming to a stop. He’s the ultimate teammate and will retire as one of the greatest shooting guards of all time.


14) David Thompson

Your favorite player’s favorite player is David Thompson. Michael Jordan loved him so much that he asked Skywalker to induct him into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

He was the first basketball player who could fly, the most athletic player on the floor, and the best scoring guard in the league for his first six seasons. From 1975 to 1981, Thompson averaged 25.4 points, 3.6 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. He was a precursor to guards like Jordan, and Dwyane Wade, who could blow up fast breaks with chase-down blocks.

Unfortunately, injuries and drugs derailed his career. His ceiling was as high as anyone’s, but his lack of longevity docks him in the all-time rankings. However, that still wasn’t enough to stop him from being one of the best SGs ever.

13) Tracy McGrady

In the regular season, Tracy McGrady could have an argument as the second greatest shooting guard of all time. T-Mac won two scoring titles, made seven All-NBA teams, and averaged over five assists per game six times. At 6’8″, he would’ve been a triple-double machine in today’s league.

On the other side of the coin, you have a player who never made it out of the first round of the playoffs and battled injuries for most of his career. As a result, he has the most disappointing post-season career ever, even if it wasn’t always his fault. But hey, he scored 13 points in 30 seconds one time.


12) Klay Thompson

If Klay Thompson is the best player on your team and is expected to handle the ball, you’ll probably miss the playoffs.

However, calling him a role player feels like a slap in the face — he’s an excellent off-ball player and was an incredible wing defender before his leg crumbled.

You could put him on any team with an above-average creator, and that team’s ceiling is instantly raised. This has been proven during the Warriors dynasty. Thompson strikes fear in the heart of opposing defenses, and pairing him next to Stephen Curry is a cheat code.

11) Pete Maravich

You can’t deny Pete Maravich was ahead of his time. He was one of the first true combo-guards, a dynamic scorer, a flashy passer, and stretched the floor before that was a thing. Like T-Mac, Pistol Pete had no playoff success until a young Larry Bird carried him to the second round with the Boston Celtics.

However, he revolutionized the game and played in a way we wouldn’t see for another 30 years — a true gamechanger. Ask any old timer, and they’ll tell you Pistol Pete was must-see TV before blowing out his knees.

10) Sam Jones

He was never the best player on a championship team, but Sam Jones won ten(!) championships and was a clutch crunch-time scorer on the greatest dynasty in sports history. During Jones’ career, he wouldn’t just elevate his points per game when the playoffs came around — his efficiency would increase too.

Sam Jones popularized the bank shot, which was virtually unstoppable, no matter who was guarding him. It’s often hard to rank the pioneers due to a lack of footage and questionable opposition. Still, the revere Jones’ contemporaries had for him is a surefire sign he’s among the best shooting guards of all time.

9) Reggie Miller

Forever immortalized as public enemy number one in New YorkReggie Miller is remembered as much for his theatrics as his on-court heroics. The Knick Killer was efficient, clutch, an iron man, and an effective player for his entire 18-year career.

Surprisingly, for all his scoring prowess, Miller never averaged 25 points per game during a season and only breached 23 points once. He also wasn’t much of a ball mover, only averaging three assists per game for his career. None of that mattered for the success of the Indiana Pacers as a team, however. They made the playoffs 15 times during his career, including one NBA Finals appearance and making the Eastern Conference Finals six times.

Miller knew his role as a teammate on those Pacers team and elevated them with efficiency rather than volume. He also showed up in the fourth quarter, and there wasn’t a shot Miller was afraid to take.

8) Earl Monroe

Earl ‘the Pearl’ Monroe isn’t just in the running for the coolest and most nicknames in NBA history, he was one of the flashiest players the league has seen. If you were a Kyrie Irving fan, you would’ve loved Black Jesus. Monroe was the first player with a bottomless bag, he’d leave defenders looking dumbfounded as he used a wide array of crossovers, hesis, and spins to leave dudes reaching for air. The Magic Man brought the streets to the league. The Big Fella himself, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, said the Lord’s Prayer is one of the greatest players he ever saw.

Monroe and Walt Frazier formed the most phenomenal back-court in NBA history until Curry and Thompson paired up. These days it’s hard to believe there was a time the New York Knicks were a premiere franchise since James Dolan took over and burned the empire down.

7) George Gervin

The greatest shooting guard of all time that nobody talks about. The Iceman not only gives Earl the Pearl a run for his money in the cool nickname category, George Gervin was also the league’s most unstoppable scorer for a decade.

He was a four-time scoring champion, topped 30 points per game not once but twice, and had the most unstoppable finger roll in NBA history. I’m not sure if it was playing for the San Antonio Spurs that has caused people to forget about his career, but he’s a scorer everybody should be watching mixtapes of and one of the best shooting guards of all time.

6) Ray Allen

My favorite shooting guard. Everybody remembers Ray Allen for his unlimited range and psychotic workout routines, but he used to be a menace attacking the rim with the Seattle SuperSonics and Milwaukee Bucks.

Not to mention he could fill the Library of Alexandria with his index of clutch shots. While his stint in Boston ended poorly, you can’t say he wasn’t a great teammate. He could’ve put up numbers similar to Kobe and T-Mac, but he’d always sacrifice for the team when necessary.

5) Clyde Drexler

Clyde Drexler was a dunk artist, remarkable mid-range shooter, and a decent defender. However, Clyde the Glide was more of a fully realized Vince Carter than mini Michael Jordan. Throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, Drexler would be compared to MJ, but he never had the defensive ceiling or even the scoring prowess of His Airness.

That’s not to say Clyde wasn’t incredible in his own right. He played in three NBA Finals and won one as the second-best player on the Houston Rockets.

The two Portland Trail Blazers teams he led to the Finals with Terry Porter were as good as any contender during that era, but they ran into Jordan’s Bulls and the Bad Boy Pistons, no shame in losing to them (although both series were shellackings). Drexler’s game also aged well, he added a passable three-point shot and was still averaging 18 points per game when he retired.

4) Dwyane Wade

Until Kobe was paired with Pau Gasol, there was serious conversation that Dwyane Wade was every bit as good as the Black Mamba but faster. This turned out to be false, but it wasn’t an unfounded argument! D-Wade was so good. From 2005-06 to 2010-11, Flash averaged 27 points per game and 6.5 assists. He was, as the kids say, unguardable.

His resume backs it up.

The 2006 NBA Championship he won with Shaquille O’Neal was his team. That was not the same Shaq Kobe played with. Wade later proved he could play second-fiddle, too, going to four consecutive Championships with LeBron, winning two. If injuries didn’t plague Dwyane Wade’s career, there’s a chance he could’ve been even higher on the best shooting guards of all time.

3) Jerry West

The greatest shooting guards of all time can’t be discussed without the Logo, Jerry West. If you wanted West to lead the league in scoring, he could do that. Assists? Not a problem. Zeke from Cabin Creek did what Trae Young, James Harden, and Luka Doncic are doing now over 50 years ago! Jerry West created the combo-guard.

In a 10-year stretch of West’s career, he nearly averaged 29 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Tweety wasn’t a one-way wonder either, he made five all-defense teams throughout his career. His career is chock-full of heartbreak too. West made the NBA Finals nine times but only won once. Including the only player to ever win Finals MVP in a loss. A trailblazer in every way imaginable.

2) Kobe Bryant

More impressive than his five NBA Championships, one league MVP, two Finals MVPs, two scoring titles, 15 All-NBA teams, 12 All-Defense selections, and being an 18-time All-Star is that 100 years from now, kids at the playground will still be yelling out “Kobe!” every time they jack up a shot.

Kobe Bryant wasn’t just one of the league’s greatest scorers, he looked incredible doing it. Everybody wishes they had Kobe’s turnaround jumper. He defined a generation, made showing up early cool, and is with Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and LeBron James as the most influential players in the history of the NBA.

1) Michael Jordan

As a writer, you would like to write something resembling a unique take for every player on a list like this. Michael Jordan makes that impossible, he’s exhausted every superlative known to man.

Everybody already names Jordan the greatest player of all time, so he definitely takes the suspense out when listing the greatest shooting guards of all time. There’s no cheeky way to knock him off the top spot cause you wouldn’t have an argument. Even the dumbest Lakers fan couldn’t justify putting Kobe above him with a straight face.

He’s been written about as much as Jesus — to many people, he is Jesus, and when discussing him in basketball terms, I can’t disagree.

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