Throughout the history of the NBA, dynamic shooting guards have captivated audiences. High-flying dunks, killer crossovers, and lightning-fast pull-up jumpers have kept us watching the league’s premiere two’s with bated breath.
Before we start I want to be clear that I count ABA and BAA/NBL accomplishments because those leagues merged into the NBA.
With that being said, here are the top 10 shooting guards in the history of the NBA!
1. Michael Jordan
6’6 Hall of Fame, Bulls (Do I have to mention the Wizards?) (#2 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
6x Champion, 6x FMVP, 5x MVP, 14x All-Star, 11x All NBA, 9x All-Defense, DPOY, ROY, 10x Scoring Title, 3x Steals Title, 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary Team.
Michael Jeffery Jordan had from 90-93 the single most impressive run in NBA history. No one can compare to that.
After The Last Dance, a piece of propaganda that makes Mein Kampf look fair and balanced, I’m not sure I can add anything not already said about MJ. I only have one knock on the Ultimate Competitor. Air Jordan quit, twice, in his prime. His Royal Airness was in 93 at the top of the world, finishing the single greatest achievement in league history, and he quit. I personally want to believe he was suspended but everyone involved has always denied it. So I am left with only one answer the GOAT quit. Then in 98, he did it again. at age 34, still in his prime. He quit again.
It’s not crazy to say Michael Jordan wasn’t as good as he could have been. Some people automatically give him those Rockets titles but I don’t. MJ was a quitter and it defines his legacy for me.
He is still the second greatest player of all time, and still has the greatest prime we probably will ever see. But Michael Jordan left a lot on the table.
2. Kobe Bryant
6’6 Hall of Fame, Lakers (#11 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
5x Champion, 2x FMVP, MVP, 18x All-Star, 15x All NBA, 12x All Defense lol, 2x Scoring Title, 75th Anniversary Team.
The Black Mamba… ok full disclosure, I hated Kobe Bryant. I was a Mavs fan in the 2000s Kobe was the enemy. He methodically eviscerated defenses like a master chef cleaning fish for a special. He twisted the best defenders in the world into knots then laughed in their faces while hitting shots no human being had the right to make.
His defense was really good (for about a 7-year span this 12-all-defense thing is a joke) where he would take on the best player from the other team, shut him down, drop 30 on him, and hit the buzzer-beater guarded by all 12 of the opponents’ active players.
The myth of Kobe Bean Bryant was larger than life. His Vino years were great as well, he still had the ability to shut someone down for a game, but not every night. He could still go off on any defense at any time.
His last game encapsulated everything good about Kobe, and also most of the bad. 60 points on 50 shots, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and the game-winning free throws after coming up huge in the clutch.
He sometimes drove teammates insane, he sometimes was a ball hog. He had way more influence on the game than someone who didn’t bring anything new to the sport should.
Kobe was never the best player in the world, but for 18 years he was top 5.
Kobe just misses the top 10 but he was fantastic in many ways.
3. Jerry West
6’2 Hall of Fame, Lakers (#15 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
Champion, FMVP, 14x All-Star, 12x All NBA, 5x All-Defense, Scoring Champ, Assist Champ, 35th Anniversary Team, 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary Team.
The only FMVP to lose the finals, “Mr. Clutch” would have had another ring if his 75-foot heave would have been counted for 3 instead of the 2 points it was worth at the time.
His shooting is incredible even today he can drill free throws like a machine. One of the greatest defenders ever, The Logo, literally the NBA logo is designed to look like him, was the first person to lead the league in scoring and assists.
West in a finals game had 44 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists, and 10 blocks (not officially counted as a stat) his team lost.
His relentless hustle led to him breaking his nose 9 times. As a kid, his only outlet was a homemade hoop on his neighbor’s wall. He would practice on the dirt court, even in the mud, playing in the snow with gloves, shooting till his hands bled. West was relentless.
Mr. Outside was the best guard of the 60s.
As impressive as West’s career as a player is, and for this list only playing careers count, West was also the greatest executive the NBA has ever seen. Showtime, he was a part of, Shaq and Kobe, West, Grit n’ Grind Grizzlies, also the work of The Cabin Creek Comet, the Warriors dynasty, yep, Kawhi and PG13 on the Clippers, also him.
West is one of the all-time greats.
4. Dwyane Wade
6’4 Hall of Fame, Heat (Bulls, Cavs) (#30 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
3x Champion, FMVP, 13x All-Star, 8x All NBA, 3x All-Defense, Scoring Title, 75th Anniversary Team.
This is the point where Jordan, a professional Dwyane Wade hater looks desperately for a way to keep him off this list. Searching frantically through my criteria for a way to make it so I don’t have to say good things about Flash. Maybe I can point out his stupid idea that he deserved the farewell tour that Kobe got. Or how to over-inflate his ego he basically forced Dirk to retire with him? Or how he Froze LeBron out against the Mavs in 11? (That one I’m super thankful for) Or maybe how he cheated to get his first ring? That he was a relic guard who was a liability from three?… But, I believe in honesty, alas for this poor Mavs Fan, there is no way to keep him any lower, so I must, unfortunately, allow him his due.
D-Wade was good. Really Good. He should have more All-Defense teams, but voters preferred Bryant, therefore Wade off the last 5 years that Bryant made it.
He was nice as the number one guy and for 2 years with LeBron, he was the second-best Robin ever.
Wade was really good, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Now that I forced myself to do that I’m gonna go throw up.
5. James Harden
6’5 Combo Guard Rockets, Sixers (Nets, Thunder) (#32 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
MVP, 9x All-Star, 7x All NBA, 3x Scoring Title, Assist Title, 6th Man, 75th Anniversary Team.
The Beard is an interesting player. He has had so many MVPs “stolen” from him because people “don’t like to watch his play style.” I personally don’t have a problem watching Harden.
He’s definitely the second-best guard of the 10s. I do think he would do better if he went back to being the facilitator instead of having another point guard with him. I think that while his teams are built to make him look good, they aren’t built to win in the playoffs. They play one style and don’t adjust.
Harden is a singularly unique talent. He bends the rules to his advantage which is usually something we celebrate for Manu, Luka, and Larry Bird but for some reason, Harden gets knocked for this.
The joke earlier about how bad his defense is was definitely a joke. I think he’s average and when he tries he can be good he just spends all his energy on offense.
Harden is 32 because of regular season brilliance, if he ever finishes out in the playoffs he is definitely going to rise higher.
6. Sam Jones
6’4 Hall of Fame, Celtics. (#43 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
10x Champion, 5x All-Star, 3x All NBA 25th Anniversary Team, 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary Team.
Mr. Clutch came through when it counted.
A super-fast shooter with a great bank shot, he also played good defense and would do anything the coach asked.
Jones was devastated to be drafted by the Celtics a team he thought he couldn’t make, he determined himself to always outwork everyone on the team, something he did for his entire career. His career performance in the playoffs was incredible he seemed to always hit the big shot. Russell would catch the ball and outlet pass to a streaking Jones for a wide-open bank shot, repeat, every game, till the championship, off-season repeat again.
Jones, in 1969, game 4, behind by one point turned and looked to player-coach Bill Russell in the middle of the time out, the two locked eyes. The teammates nodded and Russell one last time called the play for Jones, Jones knew the shot was going in before it left his hands. With that, both Russell and Jones retired as champions, just like they should have been.
7. Allen Iverson
6’0 (praying God doesn’t strike me down for this lie) Hall of Fame, Sixers, Nuggets, (Pistons, Grizzlies) (#45 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
MVP, 11x All-Star, 7x All NBA, ROY, 4x Scoring Champ, 3x Steals Champ, 75th Anniversary Team.
Who is the most overrated player in NBA history? In “The Answer” you have your answer. Look I’ll be completely honest if this was up to me and how much I would want this player on my team AI is probably in the 90s on that list. However, I don’t think you can tell the history of the NBA and get to this point on your list and not mention Allen Ezail Iverson.
Yes, he was selfish. Ye, he never once met a shot and thought “this is probably a bad shot.” Yes, his defense was extremely overrated. But, he was so fun to watch. He could go for like 1000 points and I as a pre-teen would have believed it, I would have also assumed he shot 1.6 million times, but hey he was fun to watch.
The problem with AI is for him to really thrive you couldn’t have good offensive players with him. Therefore it made it hard for the team to succeed. I loved watching him, but always knew he wasn’t the best player in the league.
8. George Gervin
6’7 Hall of Fame, Spurs (Squires, Bulls) (#49 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
12x All-Star, 9x All NBA/ABA, 4x Scoring Title, ABA all-time team, 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary Team.
First off “Iceman” or just “Ice” is flat out one of the coolest nicknames of all time (yes I used “cool” on purpose).
2 players have more scoring titles than Iceberg Slim: Chamberlain, Wilt, and Jordan, Michael. The fact that we talk about greatest scorers and AI is usually mentioned before GG is flat-out disgusting. He had a smooth jumper and the deadliest finger roll in history. He also just got to the basket with footwork and head fakes.
Look, Gervin wasn’t a one-man army. He should have been paired with another star and been given a chance to win a title. I dare you to watch Ice and not think of KD eviscerating opponents.
He had back-to-back MVP runner-up seasons and that could have easily changed his perception and maybe moved him higher up this list. Just as he had entered the league trying to learn from Dr. J, Gervin left the league teaching things to MJ. It’s a cool bridge that really could have made something awesome.
9. Clyde Drexler
6’7 Hall of Fame, Blazers, Rockets (#51 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
Champion, 10x All-Star, 5x All NBA, 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary Team.
Clyde the Glide, it’s such a great name, one that perfectly fits his play style and rhymes so that is another plus.
Drexler turned in some great performances in Portland where he should have had a ring if either Sam Bowie, a player legitimately good enough to be defensible going before MJ, or Arvydas Sabonis, who if he would have played a full NBA career would be top 20 talent, had been able to have their primes with him.
Even with all the problems of having lesser teammates Clyde still dragged his team to 2 finals and became a member of The Dream Team. Then halfway through his 12th season, he was traded to his hometown team, in Houston Clyde reunited with his college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon to bring back “Phi Slamma Jamma” to the NBA. The Rockets had been a little slow out of the gate after resting on their champion laurels and Clyde brought the energy back to the team. Despite being the 6th seed The two friends dominated their way to stopping Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway from creating an Orlando Dynasty.
Drexler’s all-around game made him a perfect second guy to Hakeem’s singular brilliance. Because of age they only made that one Finals but one has to wonder if any of the other what-ifs of Drexler’s career would have worked out how much higher he would be on this list.
10. Manu Ginobili
6’6 Spurs (#59 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
4x Champion, 2x All-Star, 2x All NBA, 6th Man,
El Contusione was electrifying. He was Pistol for my generation, he was perfection on the fast break.
Manu came off the bench to eviscerate defenses every night as his black mullet became a graying circle of championship spirit.
I admit his stats don’t look amazing. That’s fine. He embraced the needs of the team and was the second-best Shooting Guard of the 00s.
Never will I ever accept Manu slander. He was by far the most terrifying player on those Spurs teams. Duncan was the best player but Manu would beat your team in heartbreaking fashion and make you root for him to keep going because it was so beautiful to watch. It. Was. Devastating.
There is no way that anyone who actually watched the Spurs play would think he wasn’t a Hall of Famer.
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