The shooting guards in the NBA often have a common requirement: score the basketball. Most often in the past, the shooting guard was the team’s best scorer and the one who demanded the ball on most occasions.
Nowadays, this responsibility is also shared with the small forwards thanks to an incredible pool of talent. Still, the shooting guard position remains one of the most important positions in basketball.
In today’s NBA, the best shooting guards in the league have the green light to take a lot of shots and take over games. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly important for these players to defend their position well and also act as playmakers. Gone are the days where a shooting guard can just shoot, and players are not more varied in their skill sets than ever before.
Here are all the NBA’s starting shooting guards, divided into tiers.
Average Starters: Kevin Huerter, Nicolas Batum, Collin Sexton, Luke Kennard, Avery Bradley, Dillon Brooks, Dion Waiters, Wesley Matthews, Norman Powell, Josh Okogie
Tier 5 shooting guards are guys who start thanks to their ability to score, defend, or play well within a system at a decent level. They contribute well towards their teams, without standing out with their play.
Bradley had an All-Star season not too long ago with Boston, but injuries have slowed him down. He hopes to perform well for a Lakers team that has a lot of promise. Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews are guys who have performed at high levels in the past but have not been able to replicate that form. For now, they are capable starters.
Normal Powell, Dillon Brooks, and Dion Waiters are hoping to make an impact on their teams by showing whether or not they have the potential to shine. Waiters, in particular, has bounced around more than he would like and must make an impact in Miami.
The rest of this tier are young guys with plenty of promise. Huerter looks like a perfect modern-day shooting guard thanks to his size, while Kennard has the natural stroke to be one of the best shooters in the league. Okogie will likely start for Minnesota, thanks to his explosive bounce and high-energy play. Sexton will likely start at the two next to Darius Garland and might be the best starter for this tier in the NBA.
Quality Starters: Garry Harris, Zach LaVine, Jaylen Brown, Josh Richardson, Evan Fournier, Caris Levert, R.J. Barrett, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Buddy Hield
Tier 4 shooting guards are quality starters who can be relied upon to play big minutes every night. These guys are either close to All-Stat caliber or have the potential to be All-Stats someday.
Most of these guys have tremendous potential including Brown, Levert, Barrett, Hield, and Gilgeous-Alexander. These guys are easily good enough to start and have the potential to become All-Stars someday. Jaylen Brown is on his way to a max contract and can be a star thanks to his athleticism and scoring ability. Hield is a pure shooter, while Barrett has the tools to be a bonafide scorer.
Levert can be a perfect two-guard with excellent all-around abilities while Gilgeous-Alexander will look to learn as much as possible from HOF point guard Chris Paul.
Fournier, Richardson, and Harris are very capable two-guards thanks to their shooting, defense, and all-around abilities respectively. Zach LaVine is the best player in this tier with an ability to stimulate the crowd with spectacular scoring plays symbolic to most All-Star players.
All-Star Caliber: Victor Oladipo, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell, Jrue Holiday, C.J. McCollum, Luka Doncic
Tier 3 shooting guards are those players who can potentially make All-Star teams thanks to their very effective play on a consistent basis. These guys are either the first option or the second option on the perimeter for their teams.
Jrue Holiday is a defensive stalwart with excellent scoring and playmaking skills. Similarly, Oladipo is very adept at both sides of the floor and is actually a better scorer and playmaker. When he returns from his injury, Oladipo will look to increase his production in order to make an All-Star team.
Devin Booker and C.J. McCollum are just scorers of the highest order, able to take over games from the perimeter. They are very deadly and will be Tier 2 players if they can only defend on the other end. Still, these two are spectacular scorers that are the first and second options on their teams respectively.
Donovan Mitchell is the best all-around player of the bunch, thanks to his ability on both ends of the floor. He is an excellent shooter, defender, and athlete who keeps getting better. It will be exciting to see the level he can reach this season.
Doncic is arguably the most exciting player on this tier, thanks to his youth and surprising rookie season. He shocked the world with his play, playing like an NBA veteran and taking over games down the stretch. Luka’s production and play is very impressive, and he must continue if he plans on making the All-Star team next year.
Elite Stars: Klay Thompson, Paul George, DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal, D’Angelo Russell
This next tier contains the elite shooting guards in the league. These guys are the best at what they do and have shown an incredible production this last season. They will easily pick up their production once again this season, helping their teams win games.
At the top of them is Paul George. He is a dominant two-way player who is an MVP candidate. George can do it all, and recently joined forces with Kawhi Leonard to form one of the best duos in NBA history.
DeRozan, Beal, and Thompson are excellent scorers who can drop 20 in their sleep. DeRozan does his damage from mid-range along with attacking the basket, while Beal is a much better three-point shooter with an improved offensive repertoire. Beal and DeRozan will continue being the first option on their teams.
Russell made a leap towards Tier 2 this past season and will start next to Stephen Curry at the two-guard for the Warriors. Russell might be a perfect two-guard thanks to his shooting, scoring, and playmaking abilities. Russell must replicate his play last season to remain on this tier.
But one man is at the top and is arguably one of the best 5 players in the league.
Best of the Best: James Harden
Even though Paul George is a spectacular player, Harden takes the throne as the best shooting guard in the league.
Harden might be the most unstoppable offensive player in the league, who can do it all on offense at a very efficient level. Harden is a master from the three, the free-throw line, and in the lane. This makes him a perfect offensive player in this analytics-driven modern NBA game. He is thriving with the Rockets and will be looking to capture his first NBA Championship.
Harden averaged 36.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 7.5 APG in almost another MVP season with the Rockets. His spectacular numbers and dominate offensive game makes him the best shooting guard in the NBA.