Some of the game’s most dynamic players have been prime time shooting guards, capable of single-handedly carrying a team on their back, racking up enormous scoring numbers and leading their teams to victory.
We all know that names like Jordan, West, and Bryant are considered among the best shooting guards of all time, but who will comprise the remaining spots ranking the Top 20 SG in NBA history?
Just missing our list includes Dave Bing, Glen Rice, Bill Sharman, Paul Arizin, and Gail Goodrich.
’88-’02 – Golden State, Sacramento, Washington, LA Lakers
6 Time All Star, NBA Champion(2002)
20, 497 Points(37th All Time)
Career Averages: 21 ppg, 3.9 reb, 3.5 ast, .388 3 PT%
Often overlooked during his remarkable 14 year career, Richmond remains the only player besides Tom Chambers, to be eligible for the Hall of Fame and to have scored more than 20,000 points, not currently in the Hall. He began as one of the famed “RUN TMC” trio in Golden State, before becoming a franchise player with Sacramento, then finally winning a ring alongside Kobe with the Lakers. Richmond has scored more points than some all time NBA greats like Scottie Pippen, Bernard King, and Julius Erving.
’98 – Present – Toronto, New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas
8 Time All Star
22,223 Points(27th All Time)
Career Averages: 20.8 ppg, 5 reb, 3.8 ast, .376 3PT%
Known as “Half Man-Half Amazing” for his death defying dunking abilities, Carter continues to climb the NBA’s all time scoring list, having scored more points than Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, and David Robinson. Arguably one of the Association’s all time most athletic players, Carter became a prolific 3 point threat late in his career, currently ranking 11th all time in 3 PT FG made.
’02 – Present – San Antonio
2 Time All Star, 3 Time NBA Champion(2003, 2005, 2007)
10, 819 Points(49th Active)
Career Averages: 14.9 ppg, 4 ast, 3.9 reb, 1.5 stl, .372 3PT%
While Manu may not stack up against other players on this list based on points scored, he’s definitely one of the league’s all time winners and craftiest scoring guards the Association has seen. Despite suffering through various injuries and and not joining the NBA until he was 24 years old, Ginobili has been arguably the Spurs most dangerous scoring option during their stretch of winning 3 NBA Titles in a 5 year span from ’03-’07.
’76 – ’84 – Denver and Seattle
4 Time All Star, 2 Time All NBA 1st Team
Career Averages: 22.1 ppg, 3.8 reb, 3.4 ast, .504 FG%
Along with Julius “Dr J’ Erving, Thompson was one of the NBA’s original high flyers, facing Erving in the Finals of the first ever Slam Dunk Contest. The former #1 overall draft pick is the only player to ever win MVP of both the NBA and ABA All Star Games and scored an amazing 73 points in a game on the final contest of the of the regular season, to finish 2nd in the scoring race to George Gervin. Unfortunately injuries and a substance abuse problem limited his production late in his career, before being inducted in the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1996.
’97 – Present – Toronto, Orlando, Houston, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, San Antonio
7 Time All Star, 2 Time Scoring Champion, 2 Time All NBA 1st Team
18, 381 Points(57th All Time)
Career Averages: 19.6 ppg, 5.6 reb, 4.4 ast, 1.2 stl
For a long period of time during the late 90’s and well into the 2000’s. “T-Mac” was undoubtedly a Top 5 NBA talent, winning 2 scoring crowns and making 7 All Star appearances. McGrady would have been a surefire Hall of Famer and potentially one of the greatest players in the modern era if it weren’t for a myriad of injuries that limited his production late in Houston and now relegates him to a role player with the Spurs. Most legitimate publications rank McGrady as a Top 100 player all time.
’58 – ’73 – Syracuse/Philadelphia
10 Time All Star, NBA Champion(1967)
21,586 Points(31st All Time)
Career Averages: 19.2 ppg, 5 reb, 4 ast
Known for his unique “jump-shot” style free throw technique, after playing 5 seasons for the Syracuse Nats, Greer came into his own as a teammate of Wilt Chamberlain during the 60’s and is a valued member of the ’66-’67 Philadelphia 76ers Championship Team, universally regarded as one of the best teams of all time. During his career, Greer was regarded as one of the best guards of his era, regularly on par with Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.
’85 – ’99 – Detroit
4 Time All Star, 2 Time NBA Champion, 4 Time All NBA Defensive 1st Team
16,401 Points(89th All Time)
Career Averages: 16.1 ppg, 4.5 ast
Inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2006, “Joe D” paired with fellow Hall of Fame guard Isiah Thomas to form the core of the Pistons’ legendary “Bad Boys” teams that led the franchise to 2 consecutive NBA crowns in ’89 and ’90. Although an above average scorer, Dumars is even more revered as one of the elite defenders of his era, as Michael Jordan once tabbed Dumars as the toughest player he ever had to play against.
‘96 – Present – Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, Miami
10 Time All Star, 2 Time NBA Champion(2008 and 2013)
23,804 Points(21st All Time)
Career Averages: 19.4 ppg, 4.1 reb, 3.4 ast, .401 3PT%.894 FT%
The NBA’s all time 3 point king holds virtually every 3 point record imaginable, like most makes in the regular season, Playoffs and Finals history(until 2013 – Danny Green). Early in his career, Allen was one of the NBA’s most dangerous scorers, scoring more than 20 ppg for 9 straight seasons during the 2000’s before pairing with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to form the original “Big 3” in Boston and helping the Celtics win the 2008 NBA Title. Allen then took his talents to South Beach to be a hired gun in Miami, winning his 2nd NBA crown in 2013.
‘03 – Present
9 Time All Star, 3 Time NBA Champion(2006 , 2012, 2013), 2 Time All NBA 1st Team
16,453 Points(87th All Time)
Career Averages: 24.7 ppg, 6.1 ast, 5.1 reb, 1.8 stl
“D-Wade” initially came into his own as a teammate of Shaquille O’Neal during the 2006 postseason, where he averaged a ridiculous 35 ppg in earning NBA Finals MVP and helping Miami to the franchise’s 1st ever World Title. Then despite injuries, Wade would establish himself as a Top 5 NBA player, averaging 20+ppg for 9 of his 10 seasons and becoming one of the league’s fastest and hardest to guard players. Teaming with Lebron James and Chris Bosh, Wade would go on to win two more titles in 2012 and 2013, making Miami a rare repeat champion.
’57 – ’69 – Boston
5 Time All Star, 10 Time NBA Champion
15,411 Points(116th All Time)
Career Averages: 17.7 ppg, 4.9 reb, 2.5 ast
Known as one of the most decorated players in NBA history, Jones ranks second in NBA history, winning 10 rings, trailing only his Celtics teammate Bill Russell, who won 11 championships. Although known as the more offensive oriented sidekick of Russell, Jones was a tremendous player in his own right, possessing prototypical form on his jumper and regularly employing the bank shot from 15 feet. He also was known for his clutch scoring in the postseason, hitting many game-winning shots and scoring more than 2,900 points in his playoff career.
’67 – ’80 – Baltimore and New York
4 Time All Star, NBA Champion(1973), All NBA 1st Team(1969)
17, 454 Points(72nd All Time)
Career Averages: 18.8 ppg, 3.9 ast, 3 reb
Initially a Philadelphia playground legend, Monroe had many nicknames like “Jesus”, “Earl The Pearl”, and “Thomas Edison” for the many moves he invented. Despite lingering knee issues that forced his retirement a bit early in ’80, Monroe has scored more points than other fellow NBA legends like Kevin McHale, Bob Cousey, and Steve Nash. The super fluid guard was an inspiration to high flying guards after him like Jordan, Drexler, and Bryant.
’87 – ’05 – Indiana
5 Time All Star
25,279 Points(14th All Time)
Career Averages: 18.2 ppg, 3 ast, 3 reb, .395 3pT%. .888 FT%
One of the greatest shooters and clutch performers in league history, Reggie led the small market Pacers to the Playoffs 15 of his 18 seasons including a trip to the Finals in 2000. Miller is perhaps known for his flamboyant trash talking as well as his perimeter scoring, elite FT shooting, and 3 point prowess. He was a key member of the 1996 USA Basketball Gold Medal Team(Dream Team II), relished in sticking it to opponents and fans on the road, and once scored 8 points in under 18 seconds to help Indiana upset the Knicks in the 1995 Playoffs.
’70 – ’80 – Atlanta, New Orleans/Utah, Boston
5 Time All Star, 2 Time All NBA 1st Team, Scoring Champion(1977)
15,948 Points(99th All Time)
Career Averages: 24.2 ppg, 5.4 ast, 4.2 reb
Considered by many as one of the greatest and most innovative ball-handlers and scorers in NBA history, “Pistol Pete” died suddenly at the age of 40 due to a previously undetected heart condition. But that wasn’t before he scored 68 points in a game during the ’76-’77 season, and made 5 All Star appearances, despite the 3 point line not instituted until his final season where he made 10 of 15 shots, for a career .670 3 PT%.
’76 – ’86 – San Antonio and Chicago
9 Time All Star, 5 Time All NBA 1st Team, 4 Time NBA Scoring Champion
20,708 Points(36th All Time)
Career Averages: 26.2 ppg, 4.6 reb, 2.8 ast, .511 FG%
Appropriately nicknamed “Iceman”, Gervin is regarded as one of the Association’s most silky smooth and prolific scorers of all time. Prior to Micheal Jordan, Gervin retired having won more scoring titles as a guard than any player in league history. Despite a relatively short NBA career, having played prior in the ABA and post for several seasons in Europe, Gervin scored 40 or more points in 68 games and holds the distinction of being the only player to have once been a teammate of Julius Erving(ABA) and Micheal Jordan(Chicago). He still is one of the few players to ever score more than 60 points in a game, dropping 63 pts on the Jazz during the ’77-’78 season and has the 9th highest career scoring average in NBA history.
’83 – ’98 – Portland and Houston
10 Time NBA All Star, All NBA 1st Team(1992), NBA Champion(1995)
22,195(22nd All Time)
Career Averages: 20.4 ppg, 6.1 reb, 5.6 ast, 2 stl
One of the game’s all time exciting high flyers, “Clyde the Glide” earned a reputation as one of the Association’s elite shooting guards during the 80’s and 90’s, and was a prominent member of USA Basketball’s legendary 1992 Dream Team. Drexler’s Portland Trailblazers came up short against Isaiah Thomas and the Pistons in 1990, then lost to MJ and the Bulls twice in the early 90’s, but Clyde eventually won his lone NBA crown alongside Akeem Olajuwon on the 1995 World Champion Houston Rockets. Possessing prototypical size and strength(6’7 and 210lbs) for the SG position, Drexler regularly got the best of many of his contemporaries like Jordan, Joe Dumars, and Reggie Miller.
’96 – ’10 – Philadelphia, Denver, Detroit, Memphis
11 Time All Star, 4 Time Scoring Champion, 3 Time All NBA 1st Team, NBA MVP(2001)
24,368 Points(19th All Time)
Career Averages: 26.7 ppg, 5.4 ast, 3.3 reb, 1.9 stl
Arguably the pound-for-pound toughest player in league history, the “Answer” regularly dominated the NBA for more than a decade, winning 4 scoring crowns, 2 All Star Game MVP Awards, and taking home the 2001 NBA MVP. Generously listed at 6’0 and 165lbs, Iverson thrived playing against players much taller and heavier, but none had more heart as he led the ’01 76ers to the NBA Finals. “A.I.” remains one of the league’s best ever scorers, averaging more than 30 ppg in 5 seasons and scored 50 or more points 11 times during his career and ranks 6th all time in career scoring average.
’62 – ’78 – Boston
13 Time All Star, 8 Time NBA Champion, 4 Time All NBA 1st Team
26,395 Points(12th All Time)
Career Averages: 20.8 ppg, 6.3 reb, 4.8 ast, 1.2 stl
As one of the NBA’s all time winningest players, “Hondo” is a Boston Celtics legend, playing his entire pro career in Beantown. Although he began his career as a 6th man, Havlicek was once touted by Bill Russell as the most complete all around player he’s ever seen as Hondo would regularly sacrifice his body and do anything needed to secure another Celtics victory. Only Celtics teammates Bill Russell and Sam Jones won more career NBA Titles than Havlicek.
’60 – ’74 – Minneapolis/Los Angeles
14 Time All Star, 10 Time All NBA 1st Team, NBA Champion(1972), NBA Scoring Champion(1970)
25,192 Points(16th All Time)
Career Averages: 27 ppg, 6.7 ast, 5.8 reb, 2.6 stl
Know simply as “The Logo”, West holds the highest scoring average in a single playoff series, averaging 46.3 ppg, and is the only player ever from the losing team to be named NBA Finals MVP. West also earned the nickname “Mr Clutch” for his penchant for hitting late game shots like his 60 foot buzzer beater in a Finals game. But it wasn’t until he was paired with former league MVP Wilt Chamberlain that West won his lone NBA Title in 1972. He ranks 2nd all time to only Jordan in playoff ppg, finished Top 5 in MVP voting 8 times, is 6th in FT made, 16th in points scored, and 5th in career ppg.
’96 – Present – Los Angeles
15 Time All Star, 11 Time All NBA 1st Team, 5 Time NBA Champion, 2 Time Scoring Champion, NBA MVP(2008)
31,617 Points(4th All Time)
Career Averages: 25.5 ppg, 5.3 reb, 4.6 ast, 1.5 stl
Known as “The Black Mamba”, Bryant reigned as the NBA’s best player until the ascension of Lebron James. Regarded as one of the Top 10 players in NBA history, Kobe has recorded the 2nd highest individual scoring game in league history, dropping 81 points in a game in 2006. He also shares the NBA mark for most made 3’s in a game with 12. Recently he became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 points scored. Kobe ranks 3rd all time in Playoff scoring, as well as finishing Top 5 in MVP voting 10 times. He also ranks 3rd all time in FT made, 5th in FT attempted, 7th in FG made, and 5th in career scoring behind only Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain, Malone, and Jordan.
’84 – ’03 – Chicago and Washington
14 Time All Star, 10 Time All NBA 1st Team, 10 Time NBA Scoring Champion, 6 Time NBA Champion, 5 Time NBA MVP, NBA Defensive POY(1988)
32,292 Points(3rd All Time)
Career Averages: 30.1 ppg, 6.2 reb, 5.3 ast, 2.3 stl, .497 FG%
One of the greatest all around players and undoubtedly the most skilled offensive players in league history, “Air Jordan” won 6 NBA Titles, tied for 5th most all time. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game), and the single game Playoff scoring record, dropping 63 points on the Celtics in his 2nd season. Jordan helped bring the NBA into the modern age and bring on widespread popularity with his highlight reel dunking ability, winning the Slam Dunk crown twice. His name is synonymous with several of the game’s most memorable plays and games like “The Shot”, “The Flu Game”, and the “Free Throw Line” dunk. Jordan finished Top 5 in MVP voting 10 times and ranks 3rd all time in both points scored and steals.