Ranking the 2012-13 NBA Shooting Guards
As the 2012-2013 season comes to an end, it’s time to examine the leagues top performers at each position. Yesterday, HOOPSWORLD broke down the most dynamic point guards in the NBA.
Today we’re putting the spotlight on the NBA’s best shooting guards. Over the years, some of the league’s strongest personalities could be found at the two-guard. Often flashy, the shooting guards main objective is to score points. At times a shooting guard can carry a team offensively and sometimes cause coaches and fans alike to scratch their heads in confusion. The shooting guard also provides a team with a second-option playmaker. The shooting guard may be the most debatable position, there are a ton of guys who could be interchanged this year.
Love them or hate them, here are the leagues top shooting guards for the 2012-2013 season:
#6 – Andre Iguodala, Denver Nuggets
13.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.0 APG, 15.15 PER
Although his scoring numbers are down from where they’ve been in previous seasons, Andre Iguodala has established himself as one of the best defenders in the game. His ability to guard the opposing teams best player each night takes a ton of pressure off of Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari. He is also one of the better players at playing the passing lane, ranking 10th in the NBA in steals.
To his credit, nobody on the Nuggets averages more than 17 points a game. Coach George Karl runs a fast paced offense that is very much equal opportunity. Still, Andre is thriving in Karl’s system and proves that defense is still a major factor in the NBA game. But that’s not to say that Iguodala hasn’t had his share of impressive offensive games this season. He’s scored 20 or more points nine times this season. Andre also has seven double-doubles thus far.
For most of this season, the Nuggets have come out as the victors in the Dwight Howard blockbuster trade this summer.
#5 – O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks
17.2 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.8 RPG, 15.96 PER
Mayo looked to be one of the better acquisitions at the start of the season. He scored 20 or more points in 14 of the Mavericks first 30 games this season. Besides James Harden, he looked to be one of the most improved players of the early season.
Since then, Mayo has cooled off a little, but he still remains one of the focal points of Dallas’ offense. He’s still managed to accumulate a few impressive performances during the last few months, including two double-doubles and seven games of 20 or more points in 2013. Mayo still managed to shot a career high 46 percent from the field, 42 percent from three-point range and he’s averaged a career high 4.4 assists this season.
It’s been a difficult year for the Mavericks, one that Dirk Nowitzki and company are likely going to forget. But Mayo, who has another year left on his contract, will look to try and sustain what he was able to do earlier in the season for 82 games next season.
#4 – Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
12.6 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.5 RPG, 21.28 PER
The San Antonio Spurs are once again proving that talent isn’t everything, even in the NBA. The Spurs, who are currently the number one seed in the Western Conference, have dealt with injuries to their big three throughout the season. Still, the Spurs could finish with 60 wins for the second time in three years. Manu Ginobili has once again been one of the keys to the Spurs success.
Ginobili, who’s the Spurs third leading scorer, has missed a total of 13 games thus far. throughout the season. In just over 20 minutes a game, he’s provided the Spurs with a lethal playmaker off the bench, who’s still capable of stuffing the stat sheet. Despite his age and injuries, Manu is still lightning quick and capable of embarrassing even the league top defenders. He’s scored 20 or more points in seven games and he’s had 26 games of five or more assists this season.
With the playoffs just around the corner, the Spurs will need Ginobili to be at the top of his game in order to come out on top of the Western Conference. Based on his play when healthy, Manu looks up to the challenge.
#3 – Dwyane Wade, Miami HEAT
21.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.9 APG, 24.72 PER
Wade struggled for the first couple months of the 2012-2013 season. Wade was clearly bothered by injuries and some even went as far to say that Wade was on his decline. But in the latter part of the season, Wade as gone on to find the fountain of youth and is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
While much of the HEAT’s success this season has deservedly been credited to LeBron James, Wade has been mirroring James’ stats and continues to be one of the premier defenders at the shooting guard position. Wade is ninth in the NBA in points per game, eighth in steals per game and in the top 30 in assists per game. He’s also shooting a career high 52 percent from the field.
The HEAT, who are currently on a season high 18-game winning streak, look to be on pace to come out on top of the Eastern Conference this season. As James appears to be the clear cut MVP, Wade should get a few votes as well for his stellar performance this season.
#2 – James Harden, Houston Rockets
26.4 PPG, 5.9 APG, 4.8 RPG
When the Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets, it transformed the Rockets from one of the worst rosters in the NBA to a playoff caliber team with one of the most exciting offenses in the league. For the first couple weeks of the season James Harden played like a man possessed. He averaged 27.8 after the first five games of the season. Harden has since scored 30 or more points 18 times this year.
Harden is fifth in the NBA in points per game, steals per game and points per 48 minutes. He’s also first in free throw attempts and eighth in triple-doubles. With Jeremy Linn and Harden on the court at the same time, the Rockets have two playmakers who can create their own shots and also set their teammates up for easy baskets.
Harden, who looks to be the favorite to win the NBA’s most improved player award, could also end up with some MVP votes at seasons end. All hopes of the Rockets making the playoffs for the first time since 2009 rest on James Harden’s shoulders.
#1 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
27.7 PPG, 5.8 APG, 5.5 RPG, 23.71 PER
The Lakers and Kobe Bryant have had a season that no one could’ve predicted. After an offseason where they acquired two-time MVP winner Steve Nash and three-time defensive player of the year Dwight Howard, the Lakers were only 15-15 going into January. While the Lakers have dealt with injuries to nearly half their roster throughout the season, Kobe Bryant has been the one bright spot for his team.
Bryant is third in points per game this season and first in field goals made (114). This season Kobe has also scored at least 40 points in seven games this season. But Bryant is doing more than just scoring for the Lakers this season. He’s dished out double-digit assists seven times this season. He’s also been a vocal leader on and off the court for the Lakers.
After 17 seasons, five NBA championships and an MVP award, Bryant remains one of the most fearsome competitors in the league. Kobe, who has added ”vino” to his long list of nicknames, is proving to the world that you can, in fact, get better with age.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers
17.2 PPG, 2.5 APG, 1.7 RPG, 17.48 PER
Crawford will be in the discussion for sixth man of the year this season. After a couple down years, Jamal has scored 25 points or more in seven games this season. He’s also provided the Clippers with another guard capable of running the offense. While he’s a pivotal aspect of the Clippers offense, his defense still leaves something to be desired.
J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
16.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 15.92 PER
Another potential sixth man of the year candidate, J.R. Smith continues to be one of the most perplexing players in the NBA. Some nights he looks like the best player on the court and other nights he can’t buy a basket. Still, you have to give credit to any player who isn’t afraid to hit the game winning shot and Smith, for better or for worse, lives for those moments.
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
16.6 PPG, 3.7 APG, 3.1 RPG, 14.18 PER
Statistically, Johnson has been one of the most disappointing players in the league this season. He still remains an offensive threat, capable of getting the Nets 20 points on any given night. JJ is also an above average playmaker, averaging almost 4 assists a game this season.
On the Rise:
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
17.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.7 APG, 14.40 PER
DeMar DeRozan has shown moments of absolute brilliance this season. He’s scored 30 or more points three times this season. At 6’7, he’s also one of the leagues better rebounders at his position. Some thought DeRozan’s game would be affected by the addition of Rudy Gay, but instead Gay has taken the pressure of off the Raptors young guard and allowed his game to really flourish.
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
14.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 16.83 PER
At 22, 6’8 guard Gordon Hayward is becoming one of Utah’s key young talents. Hayward shoots 42 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three-point line and 83 percent from the free-throw line. Unlike some of the leagues other sharp shooters, Hayward also runs the floor extremely well and can finish around the rim.
Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
14.7 PPG, 3.2 APG, 2.4 RPG, 13.87 PER
An extremely erratic scorer, capable of putting the Cavaliers on his back for stretches, Waiters was one of the few bright spots for Cleveland this season. At 21 years old, the Cavaliers have high hopes for Dion. Can he be the Robin to Kyrie Irving’s Batman?
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
14.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 13.81 PER
Like Waiters, Bradley Beal has an explosive offensive game, but still remains extremely raw. Injuries have forced Beal to miss time throughout the season. Yet, at just 19 years old, Beal managed to score 20 or more points in 12 games this season.
Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets
16.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 1.6 RPG, 14.79 PER
Eric Gordon has shown glimpses of the player that New Orleans hoped they’d be getting when they traded Chris Paul to the Clippers, but health continues to be a concern for the Hornets organization. Fortunately, Gordon is still only 24 years old.
Louis Williams, Atlanta Hawks
14.1 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.1 RPG, 16.15 PER
Lou Williams was on pace to become one of the better acquisitions of the 2012-2013 season, but an ACL injury derailed his hopes in January. With Josh Smith exploring his options this summer, Williams could be crucial for the Hawks in 2013-2014.
Although there have been plenty of brilliant performances from players not featured on this list, these are the guys who have dominated at the two guard position all season. Please be sure to tell us your thoughts on these rankings, as well as which players we might’ve missed on our list, in the comments section below. Also, check back on Wednesday as HOOPSWORLD breaks down the league’s top small forwards.