NBA Best of the Decade- Part 2- Shooting Guards
You should know who’s number one. In many ways, the shooting guard and small forward position are the same. Just to clarify, I have classified Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Paul Pierce as small-forwards, so you’ll see them on my next list.
1. Kobe Bryant- A lot like MJ in the 90’s, nobody worked on his game more than the “Black Mamba” this past decade. He studies the moves that made the greatest players in NBA history so amazing. He repoirtoire is so vast; he is pretty much impossible to guard. He can blow by you, pull-up in your grill, pump fake you out of your sneakers and throw it down like Dominique. Over the past couple of seasons, he’s learned to trust and incorporate his teammates. This has made him just that more effective. Just like Jordan, Kobe can get the job done on both sides of the floor. On the defensive end he can stick to someone like a Justin Bieber song in a young girls head. He finally stepped out of Shaq’s shadow by winning his first title without the Diesel last season.
2. Allen Iverson- The best crossover in NBA history, just ask Tyronn Lue. He gave it all out on the floor every night; whether it was a meaningless regular season game or the NBA Finals. Despite his small stature, Iverson used his sudden, abrupt crossover and quickness to become one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He won the NBA scoring crown 4 times, including his 2001 NBA MVP season. He was named an all-star every season during the decade.
3. Dwyane Wade- In the epic 2003 NBA Draft, all the scouts were blushing over LeBron James and Carmello Anthony. Wade got a bit overlooked. The Miami Heat took him 5th overall. His performance during the 2006 NBA Finals was so sick he needed a get well card. Down 0-2 in the series, Wade flashed his skills and went off. In games 3,4, 5, and 6 Wade went for 42, 36, 43 and 36 points respectively. In my opinion, it was the greatest NBA Finals performance in the modern era.
4. Ray Allen- Walter Ray Allen possesses the sweetest shooting stroke in the history of the game. Allen holds all sorts of 3-point shooting records including most made in a season, most made in a NBA Finals Game and a NBA Finals series. He led the NBA on 3 separate occasion in most 3 pointers made in a season. Allen starred in two films, including a staring role in the acclaimed Spike Lee movie He Got Game.
5. Richard Hamilton- In 2002, the Washington Wizards parted ways with Rip and traded him to Detroit for Jerry Stackhouse. From then on, he along with Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace comprised one of the better teams in the NBA. Hamilton plays like a waterbug, constantly moving without the ball and agitating defenders to free himself up for the open mid-range jump-shot. During the 2003-2004 season, Rip broke his nose three times. That’s why he plays with his signature protective plastic mask on his face.
6. Manu Ginobili- Just like Kevin McHale for the Celtics in the 1980’s, Ginobili spent much of his career coming off the bench for the Spurs, although he plays the same minutes as his star teammates Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Coach Gregg Popovich felt that with Ginobili coming off the pine, he’ll always have one of the “Big Three” on the floor. Manu has the ability to drive with his spectacular first step. Don’t give him too much space, because then he’ll just drain one in your eye with his silky smooth lefty jumper.
7. Michael Redd- Redd finally got his opportunity to shine once Ray Allen got sent to Seattle in the 2003-2004 season. Like Allen, Redd excelled shooting the ball from the outside with one of the more quick, sudden and swift releases in the game. His shot comes off so fluid and effortless. The ball rotates off his fingertips like a slingshot. In 2002 against the New Orleans Hornets, Redd set an NBA record with an astonishing 8 treys in the 4th quarter. His best season came in 2006-2007 where he averaged a stellar 26.7 points per game.
8. Joe Johnson- Johnson was a solid player during his tenures Boston and Phoenix. In 2005, Johnson signed a free-agent contract with Atlanta. It was then when his career blossomed like a flower. He’s one of the prominent reasons why the Hawks have soared to back-to-back Eastern Conference Semifinal appearances. In his 5 seasons with the Hawks, Johnson has averaged over 20 ppg, 4 rpg and 4apg each year.
9. Brandon Roy- He’s been in the NBA for just a mere 4 years, but he’s the future for a Blazers team with some nice young talent. He’s already made the All-NBA 2nd Team, and chosen to the 3rd All-NBA team this past year despite missing a vast amount of games due to injury. Roy does a little bit of everything, and for a guy that shoots a lot of jumpers, his field goal percentage is phenomenal. Roy’s game is still improving as he’s gained strength making it easier for him to finish at the tin.
10. Michael Finley- Before Dirk Nowitzki became the star in Dallas, it was Finley who guided Dallas in the right direction. In the Mavericks “run-and-gun” offense, Finley saw his best years along with Nash and a young Dirk Nowitzki. Finley got his ring in 2007 as a member of the Maverick;s bitter rival, the San Antonio Spurs.
11. Eddie Jones
12. Jerry Stackhouse
13. Jason Richardson
14. Allan Houston
15. Reggie Miller
16. Stephen Jackson
17. Cuttino Mobley
18. Doug Christie
19. Ben Gordon
20. Jamal Crawford
Honorable Mentions- Kevin Martin, Monta Ellis, Michael Dickerson, Steve Smith, Ricky Davis, Bonzi Wells, Raja Bell, J.R. Smith, John Salmons, Aaron McKie, Larry Hughes
Some Names to Throw Out Next Decade- Brandon Roy, O.J. Mayo, Evan Turner, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Gordon Hayward