Modern NBA shooting guards are required to do multiple things on the floor, rather than simply putting the ball in the basket. The shooting guards with the most impact these days often play both ends of the floor or at least dominate the game when the ball is in their hands.
In fact, the court is often loaded with shooting guards since many point guards prefer to score the ball first. It is clear that the shooting guard position is one of the most important positions in the league, as a star shooting guard will often lead to many wins in the win column.
While there are many great shooting guards in the league today, only a few dominate the most important categories in the NBA game. Considering the most important factors in basketball, who is the best when we categorize them? It is time to see which player owns the shooting guard categories.
Scoring: James Harden
Without a doubt in anyone’s mind, James Harden is the best scorer in the league right now. There hasn’t been a player in NBA history who could score 50 points as easily as Harden.
He is a master of the analytics game, generating his points as easily as possible from the free-throw line and around the rim. In the case the lane is closed, he has mastered the step-back three-pointers. Harden is quite simply unstoppable and the best scoring shooting guard in the league.
Rebounding: Paul George
Although shooting guards are not required to rebound the ball that often, these guys are becoming increasingly larger and are able to dominate the boards. With a mix of size, athleticism, and rebounding prowess, Paul George is the best rebounder at his position.
He will mostly play the shooting guard position when he returns from injury and will be excellent on the boards. After hovering around 8 rebounds per game last season, George is very capable of repeating that impressive number once again this season.
Playmaking: James Harden
No surprise, Harden takes the other category when the ball is in his hands. As great as he is at scoring the ball, Harden is also a master playmaker. He can average 10 assists per game very easily if he wants to, thanks to his sublime dribbling and passing skills.
We have seen Harden penetrate and kick out to open shooters an incredible amount of times since he became a member of the Houston Rockets. He is also proficient at throwing lobs and leading to easy baskets. Harden is the best playmaker in his position by far.
Shooting: Klay Thompson
Even though there are countless accurate shooters in the shooting guard position, Klay is a step above. He can get hot from the perimeter, draining shots from everywhere with an accurate stroke. Thompson is a dead-eye of the highest order and has an argument for being a top-two shooter of all time.
Thanks to his consistency in shooting the ball, Thompson is the best shooter at his position in the league.
Defending: Paul George
Paul George’s impact on the floor goes beyond his offense, as he is one of the best defensive players in the league. His skill, athleticism, and defensive proficiency make him the best defensive two-man in the NBA. If George wants to shut a player down, there is not much he can do about it. Geroge can stay tight to a defender and rarely loses his man.
Not to mention, George is a master at switching onto other players and preventing easy baskets from the perimeter. George is also one of the best players at stealing the ball and is always one of the steal leaders in the NBA.
Clutch: Klay Thompson
While there might be some great offensive players with a more varied arsenal than Thompson, like Harden and George, Thompson’s marksmanship from the perimeter makes him the best clutch performer. At any point during the game, Thompson can get hot and put points on the board when his team needs him most.
We have seen plays run for Thompson to get open and drain shots during crunch time, and there are very few players in NBA history who can be accurate in clutch moments.
Efficiency: James Harden
Efficiency for a shooting guard is determined by the ability to score without missing a large number of shots and turning the ball over.
Harden is very clever at drawing fouls and can generate easy points from the free-throw line multiple times during a game. He is very efficient from the free-throw line, near the basket, and from three. Harden is a phenomenal scorer and passer and can generate a large number of points per possession.
He is the most efficient superstar shooting the guard in the league.
Leadership: James Harden
Being a strong leader is very difficult in the NBA, as there are countless talented players who all feel that they are the best. And quite simply, very few players at the shooting guard position are effective leaders.
Due to his incredible impact on the floor, along with the ability to carry a team on his own, James Harden is the best leader at his position. Since being thrust in the leadership position with the Rockets, he has taken the entire franchise on his shoulders. Harden can take over the offense on his own and deserves to be named the best leader in the shooting guard position.
Athleticism: DeMar DeRozan
Even though there are amazing athletes playing the shooting guard position, DeRozan is a notch above the rest. DeRozan is extremely quick, with a great vertical which allows him to beat defenders and flush them down on their heads. As versatile as George is or as strong as Harden is, DeRozan simply has all the athletic tools to impact the game.
In fact, his athleticism is so great that many feel DeRozan should be a more complete defender and offensive player. He is still an All-Star nonetheless and is the most athletic shooting guard in the league.
Ball Handling: James Harden
In terms of pure handles, Harden is the best at handling the ball. He has quick first-step moves and can beat any defender off the dribble. Harden’s quick crossovers and dribble moves render defenders helpless, leaving them frozen and hoping he somehow misses.
Harden’s ability to score is well known, and his ball-handling and incredible dribbling skills are the key reason why. Harden is a walking highlight reel, and breaking defender’s ankles are often the result.
Basketball I.Q.: James Harden
In terms of pure basketball I.Q, a player’s ability to impact the game by skill and intangibles comes into play the most. James Harden, thanks to his incredible scoring and passing ability, has the highest basketball I.Q. Harden simply knows how to lead a team, often carrying his team, and dominating a game with his ability to score the ball.
Harden can drop 50 on any given night and remain as efficient as possible. There is a reason that Harden is a former MVP winner, and his I.Q. is a big reason why.
Overall: James Harden
Harden, all factors considered, is clearly the best shooting guard in the league. Even though there are superstar players who share the same position, Harden’s ability to lead a team and impact the game offensively puts him at the top of the list. All that is needed is for Harden to capture a championship before his legacy is cemented.