The shooting guard position has always been one of the most important positions throughout NBA history since the best shooting guards could dominate the game with their scoring ability and even their defense. It is no surprise why some of the greatest NBA players have played the position, with the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Jerry West owning the league for a very long time. A superstar shooting guard is often the difference maker between a very good team and an NBA champion, so every team is looking to stack up on the best scorers in today’s game.
We have witnessed greatness at the shooting guard position throughout history. Michael Jordan broke new grounds as the most dominant shooting guard ever, and the likes of Kobe Bryant came after him to create the most iconic moments in NBA history. It is time to rank the 25 greatest small forwards ever.
25. Gail Goodrich
Players Stats: 18.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 5x All-Star, 1973-1974 All-NBA Selection, Hall of Fame
Goodrich quietly had a great career and earned his way into the Hall of Fame thanks to his exceptional scoring ability and perimeter defense. Goodrich averaged a strong 18.6 PPG over 14 seasons as an NBA player, mainly with the Los Angeles Lakers. A 5-time All-Star, Goodrich was the best scorer for the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers that won the NBA title. Gail Goodrich kicks off the list of the greatest 25 players to have ever played the shooting guard position.
24. Richard Hamilton
Players Stats: 17.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 3x All-Star
Richard “Rip” Hamilton made a career off of ball-movement, expending his energy trying to get open looks for his patented mid-range jumper. Hamilton won an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and was part of a “Big Five” alongside Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace. Rip Hamilton was one of the best players ever at finding spots to get open, and it rests assured the Pistons would not have an NBA title without Hamilton’s consistent scoring.
23. Alvin Robertson
Players Stats: 14.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Honors: 4x All-Star, 1985-1986 All-NBA Selection, 6x All-Defensive Team Selection, 1985-1986 Defensive Player of the Year, 1985-1986 Most Improved Player, 3x Steals Champion
One of the greatest defensive shooting guards of all-time, Alvin Robertson is one of only 5 guards to have won the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Robertson was an iconic defensive player who led the league in steals on 3 separate occasions and also made 6 All-Defensive Teams. Robertson never made the Hall of Fame, but he will be recognized on this list as one of the top 25 shooting guards to have ever played.
22. Sam Jones
Players Stats: 17.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.5 APG
Honors: 5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Fame
Sam Jones won a whopping 10 NBA titles with the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics, and his scoring ability was critical to the franchise dominating the league for over a decade. Jones managed to be a part of 10 title-winning teams and his mix of inside and outside scoring earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. A 5-time All-Star, Jones is an easy inclusion in the list of top 25 shooting guards ever.
21. Reggie Miller
Players Stats: 18.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Fame
Reggie Miller is one of the most clutch players in NBA history and certainly one of the 5 greatest shooters we have ever seen. Before Stephen Curry and even Klay Thompson started tearing up the league from distance, Reggie Miller was widely regarded as the single best shooter of all-time. Miller is currently 2nd all-time in threes made and is easily a top-25 shooting guard ever.
20. David Thompson
Players Stats: 22.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Honors: 4x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 1975-1976 Rookie of the Year, Hall of Fame
David Thompson was an all-time great scorer as a member of the Denver Nuggets and had a sensational career for them. He won the Rookie of the Year Award by averaging 26.0 PPG and averaged 22.7 PPG for his career as a player for the ABA and NBA. Thompson was just a phenomenal scorer, who did the bulk of his damage from the mid-range and inside the paint. Thompson, and the rest of the league, did not value the three-point shot, or else he might have had a greater impact for the Nuggets.
19. Manu Ginobili
Players Stats: 13.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.3
Honors: 2x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Selection, 2007-2008 Sixth Man of the Year
There is no surprise that Spurs legend Manu Ginobili would appear eventually on this list, as a 4-time NBA champion and one of the most unselfish players to have ever played. Ginobili could have easily started for the Spurs, but he knew he gave the team a greater chance to win by coming off the bench. As a great scorer, playmaker, and defender; Manu Ginobili is a first-ballot Hall of Famer who is one of the greatest international players ever.
18. Earl Monroe
Players Stats: 18.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 4x All-Star, 1968-1969 All-NBA Selection, 1967-1968 Rookie of the Year, Hall of Fame
Earl “The Pearl” Monroe was a 4-time All-Star, former ROY, NBA champion, and a valued member of the Hall of Fame. Monroe averaged 18.8 PPG for his career and did the bulk of his damage by destroying opponents in one-on-one situations and using an array of dazzling dribble moves to his advantage. Many people forget how dominant Earl Monroe was and he is easily a top-25 shooting guard to have ever lived.
17. Hal Greer
Players Stats: 19.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.0 APG
Honors: 10x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Fame
Hal Greer was a 10-time All-Star who played at a high level for over a decade for the Philadelphia 76ers and Syracuse Nationals. Greer captured an NBA title with Philadelphia in 1967 and is a valued member of the Hall of Fame. His consistency on the offensive end, 10 All-Star game selections, and 7 All-NBA team selections make him a worthy inclusion into the top-25 list
16. Vince Carter
Players Stats: 16.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Honors: 8x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Selection, 1998-1999 Rookie of the Year
Half-Man, Half-Amazing, Vince Carter is one of the league’s most iconic players. Widely regarded as the single greatest dunker of all time, Carter was an immense offensive force in his prime and one of the league’s most respected players. Carter’s style of play would normally result in highlight-reel worthy replays, and he even managed to make an impressive 8 All-Star selections over his 22-year career.
15. Mitch Richmond
Players Stats: 21.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 6x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Selection, 1988-1989 Rookie of the Year, Hall of Fame
Mitch Richmond is one of the most underrated scorers in NBA history, even though he is in the Hall of Fame and averaged above 20.0 PPG for 10 straight seasons starting from his rookie season. Richmond had all the tools in the bag as a dominant scorer, and he even managed to win an NBA title as a role player with the Lakers in 2002.
14. Tracy McGrady
Players Stats: 19.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Honors: 7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Selection, 2000-2001 Most Improved Player, 2x Scoring Champion, Hall of Fame
If Tracy McGrady would have stayed healthy over his career, we might be talking about a top-3 shooting guard to have ever played. T-Mac was arguably the best scorer in the NBA since Michael Jordan, because he could rise and shoot over any defender or attack the rim. McGrady was also a clutch offensive player who came through for his team when needed, and his greatest skill might have even been his natural playmaking.
13. Pete Maravich
Players Stats: 24.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Honors: 5x All-Stars, 4x All-NBA Selection, 1976-1977 Scoring Champion, Hall of Fame
Pistol Pete Maravich was a unique shooting guard because he was as natural a sharpshooter as one could get. Maravich was also a supremely gifted playmaker who was an entire offensive machine on his own. He was also one of the iconic legends of the game to put professional basketball in the limelight, and an incredible talent with the ball in his hands. Pistol Pete is often credited for making professional basketball what it is today, and he is a worthy inclusion into the top-25 list of shooting guards.
12. Joe Dumars
Players Stats: 16.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 4.5 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG
Honors: 1988-1989 Finals MVP, 6x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Selection, 5x All-Defensive Team Selection, Hall of Fame
Joe Dumars is an all-time great shooting guard and leader during his time with the Detroit Pistons. Dumars was a great 2-way player who managed to win the 1989 Finals MVP when the Pistons took down the mighty Los Angeles Lakers led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Dumars averaged 27.3 PPG and 6.0 APG during the Finals series and was just as good the following year when he won his 2nd straight NBA championship.
11. Bill Sharman
Players Stats: 17.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.0 APG
Honors: 8x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Fame
Bill Sharman played 11 seasons in the NBA, making 8 All-Star teams and 7 All-NBA selections. Sharman was mainly part of a dominant Celtics team, winning 4 NBA titles and averaging 17.8 PPG for his career. His scoring and NBA titles make him a worthy inclusion as the 11th greatest shooting guard ever, but Sharman is also one of the four people to be entered into the Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach which makes his career all that more impressive.
10. Ray Allen
Players Stats: 18.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 10x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Fame
A supremely gifted shooter and scorer, Ray Allen still has the case for being the best shooter in NBA history. He ranks 1st in all-time threes made by surpassing Reggie Miller, and only one could imagine how many threes Allen would have swished through if he played today. Allen earned both his NBA titles, winning one as a member of the Boston Celtics Big Three in 2008 and later as a clutch role player for the Miami Heat in 2013.
9. Klay Thompson
Players Stats: 19.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Honors: 5x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Selection, 2018-2019 All-Defensive Team Selection
It is hard to deny Klay Thompson a top-10 spot on the all-time greatest shooting guards list because of his success as part of the Golden State Warriors Dynasty. Klay’s role as a second and even third option was a reason the Warriors were as dominant as they were, and Thompson’s shooting and defense are supremely underrated. Thompson is widely regarded as the second greatest shooter in today’s NBA, and he will rank among the best shooters ever when it is all said and done.
8. George Gervin
Players Stats: 26.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Honors: 9x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Selection, 4x Scoring Champion, Hall of Fame
George Gervin, before Kevin Durant, was the first slender athletic scorer that dominated defenses for years. Gervin was a scoring machine, winning 3 straight scoring titles and capturing 4 overall. Gervin’s career scoring average of 26.2 points per game is among the game’s best as is his combined NBA/ABA total of 26,595 points. Gervin’s perfect mid-range jump shot and silky smooth touch around the basket made him an unstoppable force on offense, and he is easily a top-10 shooting guard ever and perhaps the greatest scorer the San Antonio Spurs ever had.
7. James Harden
Players Stats: 25.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Honors: 2017-2018 MVP, 8x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Selection, 2011-2012 Sixth Man of the Year, 3x Scoring Champion, 2016-2017 Assist Champion
If James Harden can have at least a few convincing postseason runs before he hangs it up, he might be an easy inclusion into the top-5 greatest shooting guards to have ever played. He is simply too talented with the ball in his hands as both a scorer and a playmaker, and he is the most dominant offensive force we have seen since prime Kobe Bryant. The Beard might be the greatest isolation scorer ever, and he has time to crack the top-5 which he probably will someday.
6. Clyde Drexler
Players Stats: 20.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.6 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Honors: 10x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Selection, Hall of Fame
Before Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler was the epitome of a perfect shooting guard. He had great size and athleticism and possessed an incredible all-around game including rebounding and playmaking. Drexler made a whopping 10 All-Star games over his career and earned himself an NBA title during his run with the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Houston Rockets in 1995. Drexler just misses the top-5 but is easily one of the most dominant shooting guards to have ever played.
5. Allen Iverson
Players Stats: 26.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.2 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Honors: 2000-2001 MVP, 11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Selection, 8x All-Defensive, 4x Scoring Champion, 3x Steals Champion, 1996-1997 Rookie of the Year, Hall of Fame
Despite being labeled a selfish player, “The Answer” Allen Iverson was one of a kind. A very undersized shooting guard, Iverson played harder than anyone on the court, and his scoring ability was unmatched as a miniature player. Iverson achieved everything in the game of basketball except an NBA title, which is the only knock against him. Still, Iverson won an MVP and 4 scoring titles along with a host of other accolades which places him firmly among the 5 greatest shooting guards ever.
4. Jerry West
Players Stats: 27.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 6.7 APG, 2.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Honors: 1968-1969 Finals MVP, 14x All-Star, 12x All-NBA Selection, 5x All-Defensive Team Selection, 1969-1970 Scoring Champion, 1971-1972 Assist Champion, Hall of Fame
Jerry West, the NBA’s logo, is easily one of the best players ever regardless of position. A Lakers legend, West shot a career 81.4% from the free-throw line and 47.4% from the field while averaging 27.0 PPG. Clearly, he was a sharpshooter and scorer of the highest order and one of the best shooting guards of all time. Unfortunately for him, West has one of the most shockingly bad Finals records in history by going 1-9 in the Finals. Nonetheless, West was too talented to not be recognized as the 4th greatest shooting guard ever.
3. Dwyane Wade
Players Stats: 22.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Honors: 2005-2006 Finals MVP, 13x All-Star, 8x All-NBA Selection, 3x All-Defensive Team Selection, 2008-2009 Scoring Champion
Dwyane Wade had an illustrious career, winning 3 NBA titles and making a whopping 13 All-Star teams. In his prime, a young Wade, known as “Flash”, was an unbelievably athletic and talented scorer who led the Miami Heat to an NBA title in 2006. When he got a bit older, he was the clutch sidekick to LeBron James in Miami and won 2 more NBA titles. The greatest player that the Miami Heat ever had, Wade is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and easily the 3rd greatest shooting guard ever.
2. Kobe Bryant
Players Stats: 25.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Honors: 2x Finals MVP, 2007-2008 MVP, 18x All-Star, 15x All-NBA Selection, 12x All-Defensive, 2x Scoring Champion, Hall of Fame
Mr. Laker himself, Kobe Bryant is unsurprisingly the second greatest shooting guard ever and it isn’t close. Bryant accomplished everything in professional basketball and would be named the best ever if not for one man from Chicago. Bryant won 5 NBA titles over his career, made 18 All-Star teams, and might be the single greatest shot-maker that we have ever seen. Kobe Bryant is a legend of the highest order but he trails only one man as the king of all shooting guards.
1. Michael Jordan
Players Stats: 30.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.3 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Honors: 6x Finals MVP, 5x MVP, 14x All-Star, 11x All-NBA Selection, 9x All-Defensive, 1987-1988 Defensive Player of the Year, 10x Scoring Champion, 3x Steals Champion, 1985-1985 Rookie of the Year, Hall of Fame
We have seen many great players in NBA history, but not a single one was greater than Michael Jordan. He won 6 NBA titles, 6 Finals MVPs, 10 scoring titles, and had a dominant 11-year span that will never be repeated again by any player. Jordan dominated all competition, reigned supreme above all, and has the record for most achievements of a single-player ever. MJ is the GOAT and there is no debate who the best shooting guard ever is.