Nels did the point guards. Then everything changed. Now with a clearer picture of what the NBA landscape is going to look like, here is our list of shooting guards by tier. These are based on our 2011-12 Player Tier spreadsheet, which is in turn based on rankings for 9-category H2H leagues. A player’s overall rank is included in parenthesis after their name for reference.
Tier 1: The First Rounder
Dwyane Wade (7)
People don’t typically go looking for a shooting guard in the first round of a draft, but if Wade is sitting there at the back end of the first you could certainly do worse. That’s not what you’d call an unconditional endorsement. Wade is going get banged up over the course of a season and his first year playing alongside James and Bosh saw his assists drop by about 2 a game. But his rebounding numbers were way up last year and he shot 50% from the field to go along with a 25.5/6.4/4.6 and 1.1 blocks a game. Those are numbers you can build a team round, with the added bonus that he qualifies at PG in Yahoo leagues.
Tier 2: Run and Gun and Gun
Monta Ellis (13)
Eric Gordon (18)
Ellis and Gordon have both had their own share of injury problems in the past. But when healthy, these guys can score with anyone in the league and kick in some decent assist numbers as well. Monta Ellis gets the slight edge in this tier because he’s performed at this level in the past, although new coach Mark Jackson is doing his best to mess with that by proclaiming that he’s going to use the 6-3 Ellis on the block this season.
Eric Gordon’s trade to the Hornets leaves him as the de facto number 1 scoring option on a team in need of that and he should log some heavy minutes and usage rate as a result. Our projections love Gordon this year and having him averaging nearly 25 points a game.
Tier 3: The Arthritis Trio
Kobe Bryant (24)
Kevin Martin (27)
Manu Ginobili (31)
On the plus side, Kobe Bryant played all 82 games last season. And that’s all the positive news I have. His 34 minutes a game were the fewest he’s averaged since 1998. As a result, all his counting stats took a slide and he ended the season ranked 25 on the GMTR Player Rater. Chris Paul might have been able to solve a lot of Kobe’s problems this season, but thanks to the maniacal David Stern, it’s another year of the barely there Derek Fisher at PG for the Lakers. That being said, the 33-year old Kobe still has enough in the tank to pull down something in the neighborhood of a 25/5/5.
2010-11 was the first season Kevin Martin was able stay healthy in what seems like forever. Houston has been a great fit for his game and if you’re looking for points, threes and FT% out of your shooting guard, Martin is one of the best in the league. The question is can he stay healthy again?
On a per game basis, Manu Ginobili had one of the better seasons of his career in 2010-11 mostly because his minutes jumped up to about 30 a game as the Spurs lean more and more on his offensive game as Duncan ages. The schedule is going to be brutal for an old team like the Spurs, which is why he’s in the third SG tier despite finishing last season ranked 19 on the GMTR Player Rater.
Only one of the players in this tier is going to get divorced from this woman this year.
Tier 4: Solid Mid-Rounders
Jason Richardson (37)
James Harden (45)
Ray Allen (49)
Joe Johnson (52)
A solid, if somewhat unspectacular tier. James Harden is the upside guy here if you want to reach. He could be in for that third year bump, but what really excites me is that there is a very good chance he starts for the Thunder over Thabo Sefolosha (and rightly so). A starting gig and a bump in minutes means that Harden could explode this year even if his per-36 minute numbers don’t take a huge jump up.
Other than that, you know what you are getting with the rest of the tier. Jason Richardson resigned with the Magic, where he should get plenty of minutes. His 2010-11 splits indicate that he really missed Steve Nash after leaving Phoenix, but he’s still going to hit a ton of threes and put up some decent overall numbers.
We’ve discussed Joe Johnson a bit already in the comments of our top 150 player post. His per-36 minute trends are all heading in the wrong direction, so his projection is down from last season’s already down year. The departure of Jamal Crawford means that Johnson could see a bump in minutes and get his groove back, but I’d rather let someone else find that out this season.
Tier 5: The Breakouts
Tony Allen (65)
Jared Dudley (71)
Arron Afflalo (76)
Landry Fields (78)
It’s possible that every one of the guys in this tier end up better than the guys in the tier above them. But until they prove it, they slot in a tier below due to the uncertainty around their performance. Right now, Tony Allen appears to be the Grizzlies’ starter and will be one of the top steals guys in the league. Jared Dudley should start for the Suns this season and could breakout if he gets the minutes. If Arron Afflalo resigns with the Suns, he’ll be their clear starter and is one of the few SGs who shot 50% from the field last season. Impressive considering he also hit 1.5 threes a game.
Tier 6: Feel the Burn
Jason Terry (83)
Marcus Thornton (86)
Wesley Matthews (95)
Thornton and Matthews are the upside guys, which I guess makes Terry the downside guy. Wesley Matthews had a nice breakout season on the Blazers last year – averaging nearly 16 points and 2 threes a game – and will improve on that in his third year if he gets the minutes. The Blazers’ recently added Jamal Crawford to the mix, which definitely throws a little uncertainly into Matthews’ projection, but for now we’re assuming the retirement of Brandon Roy and additional of Crawford sort of kind of net each other out.
Marcus Thornton burned it up after being traded to the Kings last season, averaging 21.7 points a game. It’s always risky to base a draft pick on what a guy did in 27 games at the end of the season, but the Kings really don’t have any other options unless you’re a big Jimmer Fredette fan. We have Thornton regressing some off his crazy Kings’ line, but our projection of 17 points and 1.5 threes will still be a net positive for a fantasy team.
Tier 7: The Value Bin
Stephen Jackson (89)
DeMar DeRozan (105)
Vince Carter (106)
Paul George (119)
Rodrigue Beaubois (122)
Jodie Meeks (124)
Ben Gordon (126)
Jamal Crawford (127)
Reports are that Stephen Jackson is unhappy with his contract and may be already playing the injury game with the Bucks. He was originally in the tier above this one, but I’ve preemptively knocked him down and we’ll be readjusting his rank when updated GMTR top 150 player rankings come out.
There is certainly some value to be had in this tier if you want to wait and grab your shootings guards at the end of a draft. Our projections don’t love DeMar DeRozan, but he could easily end up finishing the year with the group of players in the tier above, especially if he’s able to improve on his 17.2 ppg scoring average from last year.
Paul George looks to be the Pacers’ starter and in their first preseason game he scored 17 points and grabbed 10 boards. Rodrigue Beaubois is working his way back from a broken foot, but provided he’s healthy he’ll get the minutes vacated by JJ Barea and could easily breakout this season.
To say that Ben Gordon has been buried by the Pistons is an insult to dead people, but the departure of Rip Hamilton (how you like your shooting guard now, Nels) and Tracy McGrady means that the team will be forced to give him minutes. He probably won’t be as good as he was with the Bulls, but he’s definitely a solid sleeper candidate this year.
Tier 8: Don’t Wait This Long
Jordan Crawford (135)
Nick Young (141)
Richard Hamilton (142)
Anthony Morrow (143)
Shannon Brown (149)
From Jordan Crawford’s Yahoo player page: “Jordan Crawford never met a shot he didn’t like.” His 38% shooting from the floor last year is a pretty good indication of that. There will be minutes to be had for Crawford running alongside John Wall, especially if restricted free agent Nick Young leaves, but it’ll be a painful shooting ride if you decide to draft him.
Richard Hamilton’s move to the Bulls at least gets him away from the horrible relationship he had with the Pistons at the end of his run there. Maybe Tom Thibodeau can work his Magic, but I’m not holding my breath on a soon to be 34 year old SG.
The fact that Shannon Brown went to the Suns is good news for his fantasy value, but he’ll need some other Suns to go down with injuries to get more than the 20 or so minutes a game that he averaged with the Lakers. Anthony Morrow has proven himself to basically be a three-point specialist in his time with the Warriors and Nets. But if you need threes, you can get them with Morrow in this tier.
Guys like O.J. Mayo (155), Rudy Fernandez (159) and Daniel Gibson (163) would also slide into this tier if we went a little deeper.