The NBA is a point guard driven league. Look at personnel on the top teams in the Association. With just a couple exceptions, the best teams in the league have stellar point guard play. After the point guard position, the power forward position is emerging as the deepest talent pool in the league.
What’s been lost in the NBA is great play from the shooting guard position. Having a great shooting guard isn’t a necessity anymore. Just look at the San Antonio Spurs for proof. Gregg Popovich used a platoon of players at the shooting guard position last year, and none of them are superstars anymore. Danny Green is an elite three-point shooter, Manu Ginobili is past his prime but still a crafty offensive weapon, and Marco Belinelli can shoot it with the best of them, but struggles in other facets of the game. None of those guys – at least at this point in their careers – could carry the offense alone.
[RELATED: The top 20 point guards in the NBA right now]
The top players in the league aren’t shooting guards, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a number of really talented players at the position. With that in mind, here are the top 20 shooting guards in the NBA heading into next season. This list is focused on what a player can bring to the table for the 2014-2015 season, not what they did in the past.
(For the record: Paul George, Gordon Hayward, and Kyle Korver would have been included on this list but are considered more small forwards than shooting guards)
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20. Nick Young – Los Angeles Lakers
Nick Young can score the basketball. No if, ands, or buts about it. He can’t do much else on the basketball court, but he’s an offensive threat the second he steps on the hardwood. Young averaged 17.9 points per game last year for the Lakers, earning him a multi-year contract this summer. Young’s shot selection is often questioned, but he shot a career high from the floor and from beyond the arc in 2013-2014, and his 44% shooting percentage really isn’t all that bad in comparison to some of the other high-volume shooters in the league last season. Even with Kobe Bryant back this year, the Lakers will still be looking to Young to play a major role in their offense.
19. Kevin Martin – Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Martin might very well be the best scorer in the NBA that nobody talks about. He’s averaged more than 20 points per game five times in his NBA career and averaged 19.1 points per game for Minnesota last year. Martin is deadly from beyond the arc, shooting 39% from downtown a year ago. But, he is a defensive liability, keeping him on the bottom rung of this list for the rest of his career. With Kevin Love out of the picture in Minnesota, look for Martin to lead the team in scoring and average more than 20 points per game in 2014-2015.
18. J.R. Smith – New York Knicks
Whether you love him or hate him, it’s hard to deny the fact that J.R. Smith can flat out score the basketball. While his 2013-2014 season wasn’t as prolific as his 2012-2013 Sixth Man of the Year season, scoring 14.5 points per game and shooting 39% from beyond the arc is nothing to scoff at. Smith may not be the most cerebral player in the league, but he’s a really nice fit in Derek Fisher’s (
Phil Jackson’s… Tex Winters‘) triangle offense. With Carmelo patrolling the high post area and drawing the attention of defenders, Smith is going to get a ton of open looks from the corner. As the Knicks look to rebound from a disappointing 2013-2014 campaign, expect Smith’s numbers, and his efficiency, to rise as well. His defense will again be the result of how hard he works, but he seems to understand you have to try hard on both sides of the court.