Updated: May 5, 2020
The position of shooting guard has produced some of the most prolific scorers in the history of the game. While the players on this list are all recognized as great scorers, their impact extends beyond the ability to put the ball in the hoop. Playmaking ability, leadership, rebounding and defensive prowess are attributes shared in various combinations by the players on this list. Here are the top 10 shooting guards in NBA history.
1) Michael Jordan, 1984-93, 95-98, 2001-03
No player in NBA history has made a greater impact on the game than Jordan. On the court, the Chicago Bulls Hall of Famer dominated on both ends, winning a record 10 scoring titles and being named to the All-Defensive First Team nine times. For his career, the 5-time MVP averaged an NBA record 30.1 points per game, while adding 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals. But it was in the postseason that Jordan earned the reputation of the greatest clutch player in history. In six NBA Finals appearances, he averaged 33.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists, winning Finals MVP all six times and bringing Chicago six NBA championships. For his career, Jordan was a 14-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA selection, 3-time All-Star Game MVP and the 1987-88 Defensive Player of the Year.
2) Kobe Bryant, 1996-2016
Bryant entered the league as an 18-year-old basketball prodigy in 1996, and retired as a 5-time NBA champion and the third leading scorer in league history with 33,643 points. An elite scorer who could beat opponents both inside and out, the future Hall of Famer averaged 25.0 points per game in 20 seasons, while adding 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals. Bryant was equally skilled as a defender, being named to the All-Defensive Team 12 times. His 15 All-NBA selections and four All-Star Game MVPs are tied for the most in history. In the postseason, Bryant won two Finals MVPs among his five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
3) Jerry West, 1960-74
You would be hard pressed to find a more intense competitor than West. Persistently seeking perfection, the Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer came close to achieving it, averaging 27.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists over his 14-year career. A deadly jump shooter, excellent passer and tenacious defender, the 6’2” combo guard was a 14-time All-Star and a 12-time All-NBA selection. Nicknamed “Mr. Clutch,” West excelled in the postseason, averaging 29.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 153 playoff games. In the 1968-69 NBA Finals, he became the only player from the losing team to be named Finals MVP, averaging 37.9 points and 7.4 assists in a tough 7-game series versus the Boston Celtics.
4) Dwyane Wade, 2003-19
Wade is one of the most versatile and efficient players to ever play the position. In 1,054 career games, the Miami Heat great averaged 22.7 points on 48-percent shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.5 steals. An excellent defender with rare shot blocking ability for a guard, Wade has the most blocks (885) ever for a player 6’4” or under. The 13-time All-Star is also one of the greatest big-game performers of all time. His finest moment came in the 2005-06 Finals, when he averaged 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 steals en route to winning Finals MVP and leading Miami to its first of three NBA titles during his tenure.
5) George Gervin, 1972-86
No player made scoring 30 points per game look more effortless than Gervin. The smooth 6’7” wing utilized an array of moves, including his signature finger roll, to lead the NBA in scoring four times. Only Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain have led the league more times. The San Antonio Spurs Hall of Famer averaged 26.2 points and shot 51 percent from the field in his 10 NBA seasons, only one of two wing players in history to average 25 or more points while shooting at least 50 percent (LeBron James). In 14 combined NBA/ABA seasons, the “Iceman” was a 12-time All-Star, 7-time All-NBA and 2-time All-ABA selection.
6) James Harden, 2009-present
Harden is scoring at a pace that only a few players in the game’s history have equaled. Over the past five seasons, the Houston Rockets All-Star is averaging 31.6 points per game, leading the league in scoring three straight seasons from 2017-18 to 19-20. The 2017-18 MVP is virtually unstoppable going to the rim, and his step back three has become the most imitated shot in basketball today. Harden is more than just a scorer, though. In his eight seasons with the Rockets, he has averaged 6.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.8 steals, leading the league in assists in 2016-17. Harden is a 8-time All-Star and 6-time All-NBA selection in his 11 seasons.
7) Clyde Drexler, 1983-98
Possessing explosive athleticism and a well-rounded skill set, Drexler was one of the NBA’s true superstars from the mid-1980s through the 90s. The Hall of Famer averaged 20.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.0 steals in his 15 pro seasons. In the playoffs, the 10-time All-Star averaged 20.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals, leading the Portland Trailblazers to two Western Conference championships and the Houston Rockets to an NBA title in 1994-95.
8) Allen Iverson, 1996-2010
The best word to describe Iverson is fearless. For 14 seasons, the 6’0,” 165 pound guard threw his body into the land of giants and, more often than not, came out on top. The Hall of Famer averaged 26.7 points per game for his career, leading the NBA in scoring four times. Iverson had his best season in 2000-01, leading the league in scoring and steals, winning MVP, and taking the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals. Iverson was an 11-time All-Star and 7-time All-NBA selection. In 71 postseason games, he averaged 29.7 points per game, second only to Jordan.
9) Ray Allen, 1996-2014
Allen has made more three-pointers (2,973) than any player in NBA history, but the Hall of Famer was much more than just a shooter. Deceptively athletic, the 10-time All-Star could beat you to the rim just as easily as he could knock down a three, and his mid-range game was deadly accurate. Intelligent and efficient, Allen excelled wherever he went. He was an All-Star with three different teams (Milwaukee, Seattle and Boston), and a 2-time world champion (Boston and Miami). For his career, Allen scored 24,505 points, shooting 45.2 percent from the field, 40 percent from three, and 89.4 percent from the free-throw line.
10) Pete Maravich, 1970-80
With his dazzling ball handling skills, between the legs passes and unlimited range on his jump shot, Maravich was like no other player of his era. “Pistol Pete” entered the NBA in 1970 after setting NCAA records with 3,667 points and an astonishing 44.2 points per game at Louisiana State University. Despite playing for mostly losing teams, the Hall of Famer was a standout in the NBA, averaging 24.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 10 seasons before knee injuries prematurely ended his career. The Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans/Utah Jazz great was a 5-time All-Star and the 1976-77 scoring champion.