The shooting guard position might be the most exciting position to watch because the best scorers in the game mainly capture that position. The point of basketball is to outscore the opponent, and shooting guards have historically done that better than most positions in the most exciting way. After all, the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant once controlled that position.
But looking ahead to the 2021 NBA season, which players are at the top of their game? Rather, who will enter the season as the very best shooting guard in the world? Based on last season’s production and also the expected performances to come from each player, here are the 10 best shooting guards in the NBA right now.
2020-2021 Statistics: 20.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.3 SPG, 38.9% 3-PT FG
Terry Rozier has blossomed in the shooting guard role over the last 2 years and is getting better with LaMelo Ball alongside him. Rozier averaged 20.4 PPG last season on 38.9% shooting from three, and the 27-year old has shown the ability to go off in games when he is feeling it. As a tough defender and a confident scorer, Rozier barely misses the top-10 list.
Expect “Scary Terry” to continue to blossom in his shooting guard role, because Ball will capture a ton of defensive attention to give him space. No longer a backup point guard for the Celtics with a former season-high of 11.3 PPG, Rozier is averaging 19.3 PPG with Charlotte so far and will continue to get better.
10. Collin Sexton
2020-2021 Statistics: 24.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 37.1% 3-PT FG
Collin Sexton was on the trading block at the end of last season, but that does not mean the 22-year-old is not a great scorer. In 35.3 minutes of action, Sexton averaged 24.3 PPG including 47.5% from the field and 37.1% from the three-point line. As an explosive scorer who can shoot the outside shot, Sexton is a player that would improve any NBA team.
Maybe Cleveland wanted to capitalize on a career year by their top scorer and trade him for assets, or perhaps Darius Garland was being stunted by Sexton’s ball dominance. One thing is for sure: Collin Sexton must improve his playmaking ability because he is truly in love with scoring the ball. But as a shooting guard, that does work in his favor and that is why he is top-10 in that position.
9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
2020-2021 Statistics: 23.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 41.8% 3-PT FG
Gilgeous-Alexander is a sensational athlete with a solid all-around game, but he has not been able to generate wins for his team just yet. Once that happens, the 6’6” shooting guard will climb the ranks of top guards in this game. The 23-year-old averaged 23.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 5.9 APG last year, numbers that could qualify him for All-Star status.
In 2022, Gilgeous-Alexander could become an All-Star for the first time. The Thunder are still rebuilding and will continue to try to tank games, but an immediate improvement by their max player could speed up that process. Few players combine athleticism and skill like the former No. 11 overall pick, and Oklahoma City seem to have found another gem.
8. RJ Barrett
2020-2021 Statistics: 17.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 40.1% 3-PT FG
RJ Barrett is getting better every year, and the former No.3 overall pick showed glimpses of being an All-Star last season. Led by All-Star Julius Randle, the New York Knicks were one of the most surprising teams in the league when they finished 4th in the East and made the playoffs. Make no mistake, Barrett had a big reason for that.
The 6’6” shooting guard is a natural scorer, averaging 17.6 PPG on 14.7 attempts. Barrett has a ways to go to improve his efficiency (42.5% so far in his career), but he is only 21 years old and the sky is the limit. If Barrett continues to mature in the game and ascend as a scorer, we could be seeing an All-Star for years to come.
7. Klay Thompson
2020-2021 Statistics: DNP
Klay Thompson, when healthy, is probably a top-3 shooting guard. What he brings to the game on both ends is truly sensational, and he has the biggest case for making the Hall of Fame out of all the players on this list. With 3 championships to his name and 5 All-Star appearances, Thompson has an amazing resume as the second-best shooter of all time.
But we have not seen Klay in action for 2 years, and it will be very hard for the 31-year old to return to his superstar form. Until then, Thompson misses out on the top-5 although he can easily climb back in by mid-season. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors desperately need the second Splash Brother back, because their race for championships is not quite over yet.
6. CJ McCollum
2020-2021 Statistics: 23.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.7 APG, 0.4 SPG, 40.2% 3-PT FG
Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard C.J. McCollum is one of the best scorers in the league, and his scoring average would be higher if he didn't play alongside another great scorer in Damian Lillard. McCollum is one of the few players that can create excellent looks for himself and he does it in a variety of ways. He drains shots from outside, attacks the rim with confidence, and has a perfect mid-range game.
McCollum and Lillard will be looking to have a better season after barely making the playoffs last year. McCollum will try to be at his best in terms of scoring the ball, as the better he is on offense, the higher the Blazers will reach in the standings.
5. Zach LaVine
2020-2021 Statistics: 27.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 41.9% 3-PT FG
Zach LaVine is one heck of an athlete but that is not all he is known for anymore. LaVine can get buckets at an All-Star level and he will be looking to continue from where he left off last season. LaVine has become the franchise star for the Chicago Bulls. LaVine's scoring ability from outside has improved dramatically over the years and he is a major problem for defenses.
LaVine will hope he can get more help in Chicago so he can make the playoffs to test his skills. LaVine plays hard every night and will continue to improve his all-around game as he grows to become a perennial All-Star in the Eastern Conference.
4. Bradley Beal
2020-2021 Statistics: 31.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 34.9% 3-PT FG
Bradley Beal took a massive jump last season as a go-to scorer and offensive force for the Washington Wizards. The shooting guard finished 2nd in the NBA in scoring at 31.3 PPG, only 0.7 PPG behind Stephen Curry. For most of the year, Bradley Beal deserved the scoring title. Without the All-Star on the Wizards roster, the team is in the lottery.
Bradley Beal is easily a top-5 shooting guard in the league and he will prove it by leading the Wizards into the playoffs this season with a host of new faces. Russell Westbrook is no longer a Wizards player but Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, and Spencer Dinwiddie are a nice core to help make a playoff push in the East.
3. Donovan Mitchell
2020-2021 Statistics: 26.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, 38.6% 3-PT FG
Without a doubt, Donovan Mitchell is a top-3 shooting guard in the NBA right now. Mitchell is a legitimate franchise star and he will soon challenge the top-2 shooting guards in his position. Mitchell has this extra something about him that is reminiscent of a young Dwyane Wade. Mitchell plays hard every night, has incredible athleticism and is a clutch player by nature.
Mitchell avenged last season where he and the Jazz blew a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, by almost making the Western Conference Finals. Mitchell has everything a player needs to be a superstar, and he must continue to improve to reach that level. Winning the West was a great start for the 25-year old superstar.
2. Devin Booker
2020-2021 Statistics: 25.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 34.0% 3-PT FG
Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker is the second-best shooting guard in the NBA. Booker can create his own offense better than almost every other player in the league right now, and the presence of Chris Paul will continue to make Booker a better player. Booker was already good enough to be an All-Star the last 4years, but this year he will solidify his stance as one of the best players in the league.
Booker will most likely see jumps in his playmaking ability as he sees more double teams and will continue to be comfortable as a scorer. Booker is deadly from deep, can attack the rim, and also get his shots off from mid-range. As an overall offensive package, Booker will strive to be a superstar player as he continues to learn how to win from Chris Paul.
1. James Harden
2020-2021 Statistics: 24.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 10.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 36.2% 3-PT FG
No surprise, James Harden is the best shooting guard in the entire NBA and it isn't really close. No shooting guard possesses Harden's scoring or passing ability, and he is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of the overall impact on the game. While Harden can't defend as Klay Thompson or Marcus Smart can, he does everything else at a superstar level.
Harden can create offense for himself or his teammates at any given moment, and he is a player that can win games on his own. We have seen how Harden can drop a 50-point triple-double when he wants to, and he is a 3-time scoring champion that will most likely be #1 for the next few years at least. Playing with Kevin Durant and (maybe) Kyrie Irving will not hurt Harden’s stock either, because he was leading the MVP Race before his injury last season.