Some of the greatest players in the history of basketball have been shooting guards. They’ve been guys that are capable of running the point, creating their offense, and also play lockdown defense in the backcourt against the best scorers in the league.
Needless to say, standing out in the NBA isn’t something everybody can do. In fact, just a handful of hoopers actually manage to stay relevant through time and be efficient contributors for their teams for a long period of time, let alone a whole decade.
That’s why today, we’re going to honor some of the five greatest shooting guards to ever lace them up. Those who dominated the league for, at least, 10 years. How? By talking about the best two-guard in the league by decade. Enjoy:
1960’s – Jerry West
Jerry West was one of the league’s first truly dominant scorers. He had some of the slickest moves in early basketball and could put up incredible numbers any given night. Sadly for him, he had to play on an era completely dominated by Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics.
Even so, West averaged 27.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game on 47% from the floor throughout his entire career and was an elite contributor in both ends of the floor, as you can tell by his 5 All-Defensive Team selections.
West is the only player to win the Finals MVP award despite being on the losing team. He also won 1 Championship, 1 Scoring title, 1 Assist title, made it to 14 All-Stars with 1 All-Star MVP, 12 All-NBA teams, and obviously, the Hall of Fame, as well as being ‘The Logo’.
1970’s – Pete Maravich
Most young fans barely talk about Pete Maravich at all, but he was Stephen Curry before Stephen Curry. He had the green light to shoot from all over the court and made a living out of embarrassing defenders with his crafty moves and ability to pull up as fast as you had ever seen.
Pistol Pete was never able to win an NBA Championship so that obviously took a toll on his overall legacy, but he was one of the most explosive scorers this league had ever seen. Honest to God, his game would translate perfectly to modern basketball.
Maravich averaged 24.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game on 44% from the floor and 66% from three (on limited attempts). He won 1 Scoring title, made it to 4 All-NBA teams, 5 All-Star Games, and obviously; the Hall of Fame.
1980’s – Michael Jordan
And now, we have to talk about the guy that changed the game. The most dominant athlete to ever live, the one and only Black Jesus, the most influential player of all time, the greatest player ever. Michael Jeffrey Jordan, A.K.A His Airness.
Jordan took the league by storm after dominating at UNC. Everybody knew he could hoop but honestly, no one ever thought he’d end up becoming the greatest basketball player to ever live. His drive and determination always took him a step forward compared to his competition.
However, Jordan had his fair share of struggles during the ’80s. He couldn’t lift his Bulls past the Celtics, Cavaliers, or Pistons earlier on his career. But even Larry Bird acknowledged that he was already the best player in the league by a long stretch.
1990’s – Michael Jordan
We finally saw prime Michael Jordan in the ’90s. He took it up a notch and once he got his first taste at playoff success, he completely took over the league and prevented every single one of the All-Stars from winning an NBA Championship.
Jordan ended up averaging 30.1 points (highest ppg average in NBA history), 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.3 steals per game on 49/32/87 shooting splits and unanimously becoming the greatest player to ever set foot on a basketball hardwood.
Throughout his career, he won 6 Championships with 6 Finals MVPs, 5 MVPs, 10 Scoring titles, led the league in steals 3 times, was the Rookie of the Year, made it to 14 All-Star Games with 3 All-Star MVPs, was the Defensive Player of the Year, made 9 All-Defensive teams, 11 All-NBA teams, and the Hall of Fame.
2000’s – Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was the closest thing we ever got to Michael Jordan. He copied his moves on the court, his attitude in practice, and his competitive drive as a way of living. He was determined to prove that he was better than everybody else in the world.
Kobe was one of the most dominant scorers the league saw in his prime. He drew a lot of criticism early on for hogging shots and not getting his teammates involved, but his methods clearly worked as he won 5 NBA Championships over his career.
The Black Mamba averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game on 44% shooting. Won 2 Finals MVPs, made it to 12 All-Defensive teams, 15 All-NBA teams, 18 All-Star Games with 4 All-Star MVPs, 1 MVP, led the league in scoring twice and is soon to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
2010’s – James Harden
It took him a while but James Harden finally proved that he’s one of the greatest scorers to ever live. He’s forcing officials to blow the whistle and bending the rules of the game on ways no single player had ever done in basketball history.
You may like him or not, but Harden is as prolific and dominant as they come in the offensive end of the floor. He’s yet to find any kind of success in the playoffs, but it’s just a matter of time before he finally turns the table and leads the Rockets back to the Finals.
Thus far, he’s put up career averages of 25.1 points, 5.3 rebounds 6.3 assists, and 1.6 steals per game on 44% from the floor. He’s made it to 8 All-Star Games, won 2 Scoring titles, led the league in assists once, won 1 MVP, and is a former Sixth Man of the Year. He’s already put up a Hall of Fame-worthy kind of resume.