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The shooting guard position has evolved just like the other positions on the court. As the name suggests, shooting is the primary job. However, as the players have gotten bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic, more is expected. Versatility is the name of the game. Over the years, the players have morphed into playmakers, lockdown defenders, and rebounders.
Last season was no exception as the boundaries were pushed to the limits. We saw some unbelievable play at the position. Here are the top five shooting guards this season.
Harden’s game has come a long way. He is not blessed with great speed or quickness but he changes pace and direction with a suddenness like no other. Even though he took over as the primary ball handler, his position remains as a shooting guard.
He definitely made the most with the ball in his hands. Harden nearly averaged a triple double and finished second in the MVP voting last season. More impressive was that he carried the Houston Rockets to the Western Conference semifinal. His range is limitless and forces defenders to make tough choices. His ability to draw contact and get to the free throw line is what puts the most pressure on defenses. His playmaking ability (he lead the league in assists), was a revelation last year. He also started rebounding for good measure.
Always blessed with a sweet shooting stroke, Klay Thompson has blossomed into one of the leagues most efficient shooters. His constant movement and screen usage works perfectly with the ball movement offense run by the Warriors. Thompson’s mid range game is now equally lethal. He’s in shooting range once he steps over half court. He is an elite defender as well, making him one of the game’s top two way threats.
Thompson is still rounding out his overall game. Rebounding and playmaking are tops on the list of areas he could still improve. Thompson’s ability to attack the basket and finish is underrated. His numbers could be better with another team but he plays his role within Golden State’s system. He also places a premium on winning. Who could argue with three straight trips to the Finals and two titles?
Butler has established himself as one of the best two way players in the league. Last season, there wasn’t much team success in Chicago but he put together his best season. He carried the load on both ends on a nightly basis. Butler’s jumpshot has steadily improved and he’s added some post moves.
Butler has always been a good rebounder at his position, but has also become a playmaker. His defense is his calling card, and he excels at that end. That’s why Minnesota traded for him this offseason. He certainly makes them a playoff contender. He’ll bring some much needed leadership to this young Timberwolves squad.
DeRozan put the league on notice last season. He became a bonafide scorer but that was only the tip of the iceberg. His rebounding and field goal percentage also increased. The off-season work is paying off. Toronto has been a playoff contender for several years, and he has played a major role in their resurgence.
His defense has been an underrated part of his game. He is athletic and quick which allows him to get into passing lanes. DeRozan is great in the open court and a high flyer who plays above the rim. His overall game is well rounded and just needs some polish. His three point shooting is still a work in progress. If that part gets consistent, the sky’s the limit.
Beal took a huge leap last season as his game finally seemed to mature. He was always considered a good shooter, but the rest of his arsenal was lacking. That all changed as he became more aggressive and made a conserted effort to attack the basket. This all played a role in his scoring increasing by six points per game.
His game is still rounding into form. At age 24, he still has room to grow. Beal’s defense is ever improving, along with his rebounding and passing. His finishing ability in the open court just adds to his bag of tricks. His ascent with backcourt partner John Wall has the Wizards projecting upward. The future looks bright.