*any stats come from ESPN.com & Basketball-Reference.com*
Top 5 Point Guards heading into 2016-2017? Check. Top 5 Shooting Guards heading into 2016-2017? In progress. After I published my point guards article, I decided to change something up. For instance, James Harden was a shooting guard last year but will be a point guard this year. My original plan was to put him in the shooting guard list because most of his minutes and stats came from the two guard position last year. I then decided to change that because James Harden will not be a shooting guard this year so why would I put him in the shooting guards list? So, with that being said, James Harden’s name will not be seen in this article, nor will I change the first article to put his name in there. These rankings are based on two ideas. I compared all the stats from the point guards’ regular season and postseason. I also looked at their possibilities for them to improve this coming season, though it was not as important last year’s stats. Now that I put that for everyone to see, let’s dive into this article to answer the question; who are the top five shooting guards heading into 2016-2017.
Even though Bradley Beal missed a good chunk of time last year for the Washington Wizards, he should still be considered a top point guard going into 2016-2017. I mean, he’s getting paid like one so the Washington Wizards sure hope so. Beal played in 55 games last season, starting 35 of them. In those 55 games, he put up averages of 17.4ppg, 3.4rpg, 2.9apg, and 1.0spg. He shot .449% from the field, .387% from the three-point line, and .767% from the free throw line. He had a -0.7 Box Plus/Minus and contributed 2.7 Win Shares. The Washington Wizards finished 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 41-41. With an offseason to get healthy, Beal and the Wizards are looking to change their misfortunes from last season. Even though John Wall and Bradley Beal do not always see eye-to-eye, a healthy duo can wreak havoc on teams as they eye getting back into the playoffs.
The Most Improved Player last season put together a tremendous season. Lillard and the Trail Blazers were expected to be a terrible team with the departures of Robin Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and Arron Afllalo. That is a lot of talent to replace. C.J. McCollum really stepped up for the Trail Blazers as they took the league by surprise. What was supposed to be a bottom feeding team in the Western Conference turned into a 5th place team that made it to second round of the playoffs. In the regular season, McCollum averaged 20.8ppg, 4.3apg, 3.2rpg, and 1.2spg while shooting .448% from the field, .417% from the three-point line, and .827% from the free throw line. He obtained a -0.2 Box Plus/Minus but contributed 8.0 Win Shares. He continued his excellence in the postseason by averaging 20.5ppg, 3.6rpg, and 3.3apg while shooting .426% from the field, .345% from the three-point line, and .804% from the free throw line in 11 games. McCollum will look to build on his success from last season.
Dwyane Wade is the only player in the Top 5 that is not on their team from last year. Wade was thought of to be a Heat lifer but this offseason he left the Miami Heat to play for his hometown of Chicago for the Bulls. Even at 34 years of age, Wade is still a top shooting guard. Wade put up 19.0ppg, 4.6rpg, 4.1apg, and 1.1spg while shooting .456% from the field, .159% from the three-point line, and .793% from the free throw line. Wade had a 0.8 Box Plus/Minus and contributed 4.9 Win Shares. Wade and the Heat played in 14 games in the postseason where Wade averaged 21.4ppg, 5.6rpg, and 4.3apg. He shot .469% from the field, .522% from the three-point line, and .781% from the free throw line. Wade is now playing for a team that did not make the playoffs last season and underwent major changes in the offseason. Wade is joining a starting lineup where only one player – Jimmy Butler – started for them last year. With a little bit of help, maybe they can change things around and make the postseason this year.
DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors put together an exceptional season last season. The Raptors and the Cavaliers established themselves as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference this past year. The Raptors finished 56-26, good enough for 2nd place. The Raptors are led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan averaged 23.5ppg, 2.9rpg, and 1.0spg while shooting .498% from the field, .250% from the three-point line, and .763% from the free throw line. He finished the season with a -1.2 Box Plus/Minus but contributed 9.9 Win Shares. Despite a solid regular season, DeRozan struggled in the postseason. He still averaged 20.9ppg, 2.7apg, and 1.1spg but shot poorly from the field (.394% from the field, .154% from the three-point line, and .813% from the free throw line). With that being said, DeRozan should still be considered a top shooting guard in the NBA.
I do not care that he is surrounded by Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green; I have Klay Thompson as NBA’s top shooting guard heading into 2016-2017. One of the members of the Splash Brothers had an excellent season that was mostly overshadowed, but not underappreciated, by Stephen Curry’s MVP season. Thompson averaged 22.1ppg, 3.8rpg, and 2.1apg while shooting .470% from the field, .425% from the three-point line, and .873% from the free throw line. He had a 0.7 Box Plus/Minus and contributed 8.0 Win Shares. As we all know, the Warriors were one win away from repeating as NBA Champions. Putting that aside, Thompson still averaged excellent numbers in the postseason in 24 games. He averaged 24.3ppg, 3.7rpg, 2.3apg, and 1.1spg while shooting .444% from the field, .424% from the three-point line, and .854% from the free throw line. Kevin Durant seems to be fitting in quite fine with the Golden State Warriors, which should not hurt Thompson’s production. With James Harden being switched to point guard, the top shooting guard is now Thompson’s spot.