Sunday 24th June 2018,
The Hoop Doctors

Top 10 Shooting Guard & Small Forward Tandems in NBA History

In game 4 of the NBA Finals, James, 33 points, and Wade, 32 points, were in rare form. The Heat crawled back from a 2-3 deficit to win the 2013 Finals. In game 7, James came thru with 37 points and 12 rebounds, Wade 23 points and 10 rebounds. Miami’s made 3 straight Finals and won back-to-back championships. James and Wade are clearly a devastating combination, but is it too soon to call Wade and James the best shooting guard and small forward tandem of all-time?

Honorable Mention

Pete Maravich/Lou Hudson (Atlanta Hawks)
Paul Pressey/Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks)
Rolando Blackman/Mark Aguirre (Dallas Mavericks)
Mark Olberding/George Gervin (San Antonio Spurs)
Mitch Richmond/Chris Mullin (Golden State Warriors)
Jim Jackson/Jamal Mashburn (Dallas Mavericks)
Joe Johnson/Shawn Marion (Phoenix Suns)
Clyde Drexler/Jerome Kersey (Portland Trailblazers)

10. Reggie Miller (SG) and Jalen Rose (SF)

Indiana Pacers (1996-2002)
Record: 269-191 (0.584)
Conference Finals: 3
Finals: 1
Championships: 0
Record in the Finals: 2-4
Finals Opponent: Los Angeles Lakers (O’Neal/Bryant)

Starting Lineup: Mark Jackson (PG), Reggie Miller (SG), Jalen Rose (SF), Dale Davis (PF), Rik Smits (C)

Miller 18.2 3.0 1.1 39.5 47.1 88.8
Rose 14.3 3.8 0.8 35.5 44.3 80.1


2000-2001 PPG APG SPG 3PT% FG% FT%
Miller 18.9 3.2 1.0 36.6 44.0 92.8
Rose 20.5 6.0 0.9 33.9 45.7 82.8

Miller and Rose made the Indiana Pacers one of the greatest shooting teams of its time. Rose was a wiry and active defender capable of racking up big numbers on the scoreboard. Miller, a UCLA product, was one of the best shooters the game has ever seen, especially in the clutch. His shooting form was unique and untraditional, but you couldn’t argue with the result. Miller’s quick and precise release helped make him deadly with the game on the line. As Miller aged gracefully, Rose came into his prime. Without jealousy or malice, they shared the spotlight and led the Pacers to the NBA Finals in 2000.

9. Richard Hamilton (SG) and Tayshaun Prince (SF)

Detroit Pistons (2002-2011)
Record: 430-308 (0.582)
Conference Finals: 6
Finals: 2
Championships: 1 (2004)
Record in the Finals: 7-5
Finals Opponents: Los Angeles Lakers (O’Neal/Bryant) and San Antonio Spurs (Duncan/Parker)

Starting Lineup: Chauncey Billups (PG), Richard Hamilton (SG), Tayshaun Prince (SF), Rasheed Wallace (PF), Ben Wallace (C)

Hamilton 17.1 3.4 3.1 34.6 44.9 85.2
Prince 12.6 2.6 4.6 37.0 45.8 76.3


2006-2007 PPG APG RPG 3PT% FG% FT%
Hamilton 19.8 3.8 3.8 34.1 46.8 86.1
Prince 14.3 2.8 5.2 38.6 46.0 76.8

Not since Bird’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers and Reed’s Knicks had there been a team that was so successful with the team concept. Coached by the legendary Larry Brown, these Pistons were a defensive juggernaut. Wallace and Prince anchored their defensive gauntlet. Prince was one of the best wing defenders of his day, and Hamilton was one of the best mid-range shooters. Prince could smother most players with his long arms and his athleticism. He first caught the world’s attention when he ran down HOF shooting guard Reggie Miller on the break, completely annihilating what should have been an easy lay-up, which would have tied the score in the closing moments of Game 2 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals. Hamilton is a remarkable athlete and a master shooter, who can knock them down from just about anywhere. Hamilton scored a career-high 51 points in a 2006 game against the Knicks.

8. Byron Scott (SG) and James Worthy (SF)

Los Angeles Lakers (1983-1993)
Record: 565-255 (0.689)
Conference Finals: 7
Finals: 6
Championships: 3 (1985, 1987-1988)
Record in the Finals: 15-11
Finals Opponents: Philadelphia 76ers (Dr. J/Malone), Boston Celtics (Bird), Detroit Pistons (Thomas/Dumars)

Starting Lineup: Earvin “Magic” Johnson (PG), Byron Scott (SG), James Worthy (SF), (PF), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (C)

Scott 14.1 2.8 2.5 1.1 48.2
Worthy 17.6 5.1 3.0 1.1 52.1


1987-1988 PPG RPG APG SPG FG%
Scott 21.7 3.2 4.1 1.9 52.7
Worthy 19.7 5.0 3.9 1.0 53.1

Led by one of the greatest point guard-center combos in NBA history, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Scott and Worthy were key contributors on 6 Finals teams. Scott was a great athlete with a reliable shot from mid-range and from the outside. 6’9 James Worthy, a North Carolina product, was a star in his own right. “Big Game James” could finish on the break like Clyde Drexler, and Worthy was a stat-stuffer like Scottie Pippen. When the Lakers needed him most, Worthy came through, increasing his scoring to 22.2 ppg during the NBA Finals. In a memorable Finals game against the Pistons, Worthy led the Lakers to victory with a triple-double and earned the 1988 Finals MVP behind 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists in game 7.

7. Andrew Toney (SG) and Julius Erving (SF)

Philadelphia 76ers (1980-1987)
Record: 394-180 (0.686)
Conference Finals: 4
Finals: 2
1 Championship (1983)
Record in the Finals: 6-4
Finals Opponents: Los Angeles Lakers (Magic/Jabbar)

Starting Lineup: Maurice Cheeks (PG), Andrew Toney (SG), Julius Erving (SF), Marc Iavaroni (PF), Moses Malone (C)

Toney 15.9 2.2 4.2 0.8 50.0 34.2
Erving 24.2 8.5 4.2 2.0 50.6 29.8


1983-1984 PPG RPG APG SPG FG% 3PT%
Toney 20.4 2.5 4.8 0.9 52.7 31.6
Erving 22.4 6.9 4.0 1.8 51.2 33.3


These Sixers were one of the most dominant teams of all-time. They won 65 games in ’82-‘83 and they went 12-1 on their way to the championship, sweeping Magic and Jabbar’s Lakers in the Finals. 2-time All-star Andrew Toney was a great scorer with that killer instinct, which made him so valuable to the Sixers. And, Dr. J was one of the best players of all-time. Erving was frankly an unstoppable offensive force and his athleticism was unparalleled. Dr. J was a dunk and scoring artist who had the whole package, like few had seen before, and we would not really seen again until Jordan.

6. Danny Ainge (SG) and Larry Bird (SF)

Boston Celtics (1981-1989)
Record: 469-187 (0.714)
Conference Finals: 6
Finals: 4
Championships: 2 (1984, 1986)
Record in the Finals: 12-13
Finals Opponents: Houston Rockets (Olajuwon) and Los Angeles Lakers (Johnson/Jabbar)

Starting Lineup: Dennis Johnson (PG), Danny Ainge (SG), Larry Bird (SF), Kevin McHale (PF), Robert Parish (C)

Ainge 11.5 2.7 4.0 1.1 46.9 84.6
Bird 24.3 10.0 6.3 1.7 49.6 88.6


1987-1988 PPG RPG APG SPG FG% FT%
Ainge 15.7 3.1 6.2 1.4 49.1 87.8
Bird 29.9 9.3 6.1 1.6 52.7 91.6

Bird anchored 3 championship teams in Boston and Ainge was aboard for 2 of them. In 1986, the Celtics went 15-3 in the playoffs en route to a championship. With Parish, McHale, and Bird, the Celtics had one of the best frontcourts in NBA history. 6’5 Ainge played 3 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays before he was drafted 31st out of BYU, and he ended up being a key contributor on 6 Finals teams (Boston, Portland, and Phoenix). He was a gritty and irritating defender as well as a marvelous shooter. Since the Celtics drafted Bird, he took them to the Finals and won in only his second season, defeating Dr. J and the Sixers in an epic playoff series. Bird was one of the most gifted players to ever step onto a basketball court. Like a Magic of the east coast, Bird was a dominant scorer, rebounder, and playmaker. Bird was an unreal shooter and extremely confident in his ability. He’d tell defenders he’s gonna hit the game-winning shot and then do it. Like Magic once remarked about his rival and friend Larry Legend, “you know if the game is close and you don’t have no cushion in terms of a lead, Larry Bird can win the game.” They own one of the best regular season records on this list. They were an incredible pair of shooters who could score from anywhere on the floor.

5. Ray Allen (SG) and Paul Pierce(SF)

Boston Celtics (2007-2012)
Record: 273-121 (0.692)
Conference Finals: 3
Finals: 2
Championships: 1 (2008)
Record in the Finals: 7-6
Finals Opponents: Los Angeles Lakers (Bryant/Gasol)

Starting Lineup: Rajon Rondo (PG), Ray Allen (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Kevin Garnett (PF), Kendrick Perkins (C)

Allen 19.4 3.4 4.1 1.1 45.2 89.4
Pierce 21.8 3.9 6.0 1.4 44.7 80.6


2008-2009 PPG APG RPG SPG FG% FT%
Allen 18.2 2.8 2.7 0.9 48.0 95.2
Pierce 20.5 3.6 5.6 1.0 45.7 83.0

Allen and Pierce made two Finals, and between their amazing shooting from just about anywhere on the floor, they were a devastating combination. In their first year together, Allen, Pierce, and Kevin Garnett led the Celtics to the NBA Finals where they dispatched an under-manned Lakers team in 6 games. Pierce, 6’6, has long been Boston’s answer to Kobe Bryant. While he may not score as many points as Kobe, Pierce does all the other things well. Like Kobe, Pierce’s overall game is very polished. And, Ray Allen is one of the best shooters in NBA history, maybe the best. Allen’s right up there with Jerry West, Reggie Miller, Dale Ellis, Mark Price, Steve Nash, and Dirk Nowitzki. Allen holds the Finals record for most 3-pointers made in a game with 8, although the Spurs Danny Green broke his record for the total 3’s made in a Finals series in the 2013 NBA Finals. Allen’s stroke and technique are flawless and not only is Allen an amazing shooter, but his longevity and physical conditioning is Karl Malone-esque.

4. Sam Jones (SG) and John Havlicek (SF)

Boston Celtics (1962-1969)
Record: 395-170 (0.699)
Conference Finals: 7
Finals: 6
Championships: 6 (1963-1966, 1968-1969)
Record in the Finals: 24-12
Finals Opponents: Los Angeles Lakers (West/Baylor) and San Francisco Warriors (Chamberlain)

Starting Lineup: Bob Cousy/K.C. Jones (PG), Sam Jones (SG), John Havlicek (SF), Satch Sanders (PF), Bill Russell (C)

Jones 17.7 4.9 2.5 n/a
Havlicek 20.8 6.3 4.8 1.2


1964-1965 PPG RPG APG FG%
Jones 25.9 5.1 2.8 45.2
Havlicek 18.3 4.9 2.7 40.1

Fellow Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Tommy Heinsohn did much of the heavy lifting, leading the team in scoring (Heinsohn) and rebounding (Russell), which lead to the Celtics success. Nonetheless, Jones and Havlicek were instrumental parts of the equation that led to 6 championships. 6’4 Sam Jones is a 10-time NBA champion, second most of all-time behind his teammate Bill Russell. In his time, Jones was one of the greatest shooters, especially in the clutch. In 1965, Jones scored 51 points against the Pistons. 6’5 Havlicek was a great scorer, defender, and one of the best clutch shooters of all-time. 13-time All-star and 8-time NBA champion, John Havlicek had a terrific all-around game offensively and defensively.

3. Jerry West (SG) and Elgin Baylor (SF)

Los Angeles Lakers (1960-1971)
Record: 499-391 (0.560)
Conference Finals: 9
Finals: 7
Championships: 0
Record in the Finals: 17-28
Finals Opponents: Boston Celtics (Russell) and New York Knicks (Frazier/Reed)

Starting Lineup: Jerry West (PG), Gail Goodrich (SG), Elgin Baylor/Jim McMillian (SF), Happy Hairston (PF), Wilt Chamberlain (C)

West 27.0 5.8 6.7 47.4
Baylor 27.4 13.5 4.3 43.1


1966-1967 PPG RPG APG FG%
West 28.7 5.9 6.8 46.4
Baylor 26.6 12.8 3.1 42.9



Despite never winning a championship together, it’s hard to argue that West and Baylor were not one of the most devastating SG & SF combos of all-time. West’s shot was smooth as butter and he could command the Lakers offense, allowing him to switch off easily between point and shooting guard. His running mate Elgin Baylor was a revolutionary figure in the game. 6’5 Elgin Baylor, a #1 draft pick of the Lakers, was the best rebounding small forward in NBA history. 11-time All-star Baylor also brought a new dimension to the game on offense. Baylor’s high-flying drives and array of moves paved the way for players like Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant. Baylor still holds the NBA record for most points scored in a Finals game for the 61 points he scored against Russell’s Celtics in 1962. NBA Finals. Like people say about Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in the 1990’s, the same was true about the Celtics of the 1960’s. You couldn’t beat ‘em. Nobody could. West and Baylor didn’t win 6 or 7 titles because they had to play against the Celtics and one Hall of Fame center named Bill Russell.

2. Dwayne Wade (SG) and LeBron James (SF)

Miami Heat (2011-present)
Record: 170-60 (0.739)
Conference Finals: 3
Finals: 3
Championships: 2 (2012-2013)
Record in the Finals: 10-6
Finals Opponents: Dallas Mavericks (Nowitzki), Oklahoma City Thunder (Westbrook/Durant), San Antonio Spurs (Duncan/Parker)

Starting Lineup: Mario Chalmers (PG), Dwayne Wade (SG), LeBron James (SF), Udonis Haslem (PF), Chris Bosh (C)

Wade 24.7 5.1 6.1 1.8 48.9
James 27.6 7.3 6.9 1.7 49.0


2010-2011 PPG RPG APG SPG FG%
Wade 25.5 6.4 4.6 1.5 50.0
James 26.7 7.5 7.0 1.6 51.0



Although he is a under-sized (6’4) at the shooting guard position, Wade came into the league and almost instantly conjured up images of Michael Jordan. Wade had the dribble-in-step-back jumper, the pump fakes, the sick dunks, and so much more. His game has always been complete, offensively and defensively. His teammate LeBron James has been a physical beast ever since he came into the league. James is a walking triple-double, and the closest player we’ve seen to a Magic Johnson or Oscar Robertson since Magic. Wade and James have made three consecutive Finals and could win back-to-back NBA titles if they beat the Spurs. Wade made a name for himself with his heroic performance in the 2006 NBA Finals, where he averaged 34.7 ppg, and led his Heat from an 0-2 hole to beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games. James also made a Finals by himself, where his underdog Cavs were swept 4-0 by Parker and Duncan’s Spurs. Now together, Wade and James form one of the toughest defensive and transition combos of all-time. They own the second longest winning streak in NBA history, 28-games, and making three straight Finals puts them in pretty elite status, but they won’t pass Jordan and Pippen until they win as James put it, “not six, not seven.”

1. Michael Jordan (SG) and Scottie Pippen (SF)

Chicago Bulls (1987-1993, 1994-1998)
Record: 587-233 (0.715)
Conference Finals: 8
Finals: 6
Championships: 6 (1991-1993, 1996-1998)
Record in the Finals: 24-11
Finals Opponents: Los Angeles Lakers (Johnson/Worthy), Portland Trailblazers (Drexler), Phoenix Suns (Barkley), Seattle Supersonics (Payton), Utah Jazz (Stockton/Malone)

Starting Lineup: John Paxson/Ron Harper (PG), Michael Jordan (SG), Scottie Pippen (SF), Horace Grant/Dennis Rodman (PF), Bill Cartwright/Luc Longley (C)

Jordan 30.1 6.2 5.3 2.3 49.7
Pippen 16.1 6.4 5.2 2.0 47.3


1991-1992 PPG RPG APG SPG FG%
Jordan 30.1 6.4 6.1 2.3 51.9
Pippen 21.0 7.7 7.0 1.9 50.6



Jordan was the best shooting guard of all-time, although record-wise Kobe Bryant has given him a run for his money. And, Bryant is a superior shooter. But, Jordan was the total package, like Jerry West said, “as much as I’ve admired Kobe, Michael is still the greatest player I’ve ever seen in all facets of the game.” He was physically dominant over his peers, similar to LeBron James today and Bryant in his prime. Jordan was perhaps the best dunker in a league with the likes of Julius Erving “The Doctor,” Dominique Wilkins “The Human Highlight Film,” Darryl Dawkins “Chocolate Thunder,” Karl Malone “The Mail Man,” and Shawn Kemp “The Reign Man.” With practice and dedication, MJ became a dominant defender and a very efficient playmaker. Jordan also mentored Pippen, sculpting the offensive side of his game. And in his own respect, Pippen was one of the greatest defenders at the small forward position. In fact, other than maybe LeBron James and Sidney Moncrief, it’s hard to argue that there has ever been a better defensive small forward than Scottie Pippen. Together, Jordan and Pippen were a lethal combination. It’s hard to argue against them as #1 with their perfect 6-0 record in the NBA Finals, the best regular season record in NBA history 72-10 (in 1995-1996), and 2 three-peats (6 titles in 8 years).

Rob S. De France is a College and University Instructor of English Composition living in Los Angeles. He has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition. De France has played, coached, and officiated competitive high school basketball in California for many years. Recently, De France, his wife, and another colleague started an internationally read magazine at

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