Here it is. A comprehensive list of the 20 best shooting guards of all time. Will the list be controversial? Most definitely. Is it in the correct order? The answer to that question is yes. Before we get to the list, here are the six criteria used to rank the players.
First and foremost, to be on this list, players must be a shooting guard. If a player is a small forward but spent a lot of time as a shooting guard because of roster construction, they don't count. The same goes for a player who is technically a shooting guard but played a different position.
The players will be ranked on six essential criteria. Most importantly, their talent for the game. What it all comes down to is who's the best? For shooting guards, that mostly means who can get a bucket at any time from anywhere. Defense and playmaking are also important, but the essential skill is scoring when it comes to shooting guards. Scoring is and always will be the most important factor when ranking the best shooting guards of all time.
I will also look at accolades such as all-star selections, all-NBA selections, and other awards. But I won't weigh those as heavily as talent. Finally, winning will also play a role. To be a truly great player, you have to win, whether carrying a bad team to the playoffs or winning the Finals. Winning is the end-all in the NBA, which will be reflected in this list. Before getting into the top 20, here are a few players who just missed the cut:
Rip Hamilton played on the 2000s Pistons teams, famous for never having a "superstar," yet still winning a championship. He played a crucial part on those teams and often took on some of the most challenging defensive assignments. He misses out on the top 20 best shooting guards of all time, but that doesn't mean he wasn't a great player.
Mitch played most of his career in the 90s when a specific star shooting guard dominated. Despite this, Mitch made his mark. He was an elite scorer, averaging over 20 points a game his first ten seasons in the league. Mitch played the bulk of his prime on the Sacramento Kings, which kept him from making any big playoff runs. When he joined the Lakers in his final season, he was able to win a championship, which is the icing on top of a great career.
Jimmy Butler is still in the midst of his career, so it's a little hard to figure out where he fits on this list. Maybe by the time he retires, he'll jump up a few spots into the top 20. His stellar play in the 2020 NBA playoffs showcased just how great Butler can be. He possesses a fantastic ability to control games in all ways. With his defense, passing, and shot-making, he can give whatever team he's playing for whatever they need in a particular moment. It's a skill that few possess, and that makes him one of the best shooting guards of all time.
20. Joe Dumars
People may be a little more familiar with Joe Dumars with the release of "The Last Dance." Dumars' "Bad Boys" Pistons teams feature heavily in the documentary. Not only were those Pistons teams the only team to beat Jordan consistently, but they also put an end to the Lakers and Celtics dynasties that took up most of the 80s.
Of course, Isaiah Thomas was the star of those Pistons teams, but Joe Dumars was extremely important to those teams. He was an elite defender, placing on the first team all-defense four times. That meant he was often matched up with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird during the playoffs. When asked who the most demanding player for him to beat one-on-one was, Jordan said, “Joe Dumars, he was the toughest guy for me to drive by.”
That just about sums up Joe's defense. He had elite quickness and defensive footwork, allowing him to stay in front of even the most skilled players. He made life extremely tough on Jordan, just as the Pistons made life tough on the Bulls. The two teams matched up in the 1989 and 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, and on both occasions, the Pistons won. Though Jordan averaged around 30 points throughout both series, it wasn't efficient. Dumars held him to about 46% in both series.
Dumars is best known for his defense but was also a great offensive option for the Pistons during their title runs. In the 1989 Finals, he averaged 27 points a game in a 4-0 sweep for the Pistons, earning him the finals MVP. His two-way brilliance makes him one of the best shooting guards of all time.
19. Klay Thompson
The last few years have not been kind to Klay Thompson. In-game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Klay tore his ACL, which sidelined him in the 2019-20 season. While preparing to return for the 2020-21 season, he tore his Achilles, which held him out for the entirety of this season. Because of this, some fans may have forgotten how talented he is.
Thompson never really had to put up outrageous stats. Coach Steve Kerr positioned Thompson on the floor to Playing alongside Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant has taken a lot of the pressure off Klay his whole career. The position Thompson played on the court allowed him to do what he does best. That is and always has been shooting. At only 31 years old, he's already 20th on the NBA's all-time three-point leaders list. No doubt when his career is over, he'll be near the top of that list.
Klay also possesses a magical ability to get hot and stay hot. In 2015 against the Kings, Klay set the NBA record for points in a quarter, with 37 in the third! He finished that game with 52 points. He hit every shot he took in the third, including nine three-pointers. This is just one instance of Klay's unmatched heat checks. In 2016 Klay scored 60 points, a career-high against the Pacers. Impressive but nothing crazy, right? Well, it becomes a little wilder when you learn that he only played the first three-quarters of that game and only played 29 minutes!
His offensive talent is unquestionable, but many people count out his skill on the other side of the ball. Klay took on an immense defensive responsibility on the defensive side of the Warriors as they made championship runs. A player like Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, and Kyrie Irving became his responsibility. He made life tough for all those players, showcasing elite defensive capabilities.
Similar to Joe Dumars, Klay Thompson is an elite two-way player. Also identical to Dumars, Klay Thompson wasn't the biggest name on his team but played an integral role on championship teams. All this makes Klay Thompson one of the best shooting guards of all time.
18. Hal Greer
Hal Greer spent his whole career with the Syracuse/Philadelphia 76ers. The team was successful during his time there, thanks to the strong pairing and Wilt Chamberlain. Greer made ten all-star appearances and was on the All-NBA 2nd team seven times. His Philadelphia 76ers made the playoffs 13 times while he was there.
They won the title once, in 1967. Greer averaged 22 points, five rebounds, and three assists a game that year. In the playoffs, Greers average improved significantly to 38 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Hal Greer led his team in scoring during their title run. Hal Greer played in the shadow of the great Wilt Chamberlain, but his contributions should not be overlooked.
When Greer retired in 1973, he was the all-time leader in games played. He was also top 10 in points scored and field goals made. Greer helped bring Philadelphia its first NBA title. The second title for the 76ers organization. All of these accomplishments make him one of the best shooting guards of all time.
17. Manu Ginobili
Ginobili was one of the key players in the seemingly never-ending Spurs dynasty. Ginobili's biggest influence on the game will always be his international fame. He's arguably the best South American NBA player ever and brought significant popularity to basketball in his home continent.
He was drafted to the Spurs in 1999 as the 57th pick. He stayed in Italy for the next three seasons before coming to play his rookie year in 2002. When he started in the NBA, he was raw, but he quickly developed, immediately becoming a vital part of the San Antonio Spurs. He was only a two-time all-star throughout his career, and his stats aren't too impressive.
We shouldn't forget his talent as a result, though. He spent most of his career coming off the bench for the Spurs and is possibly the best 6th man ever. He gave the Spurs whatever they needed off the bench, be it defense, playmaking, or a scoring jolt.
The four titles he won with the Spurs are the icing on the cake of his legacy. Not many players can claim such an immaculate career, even if Ginobili never put up eye-popping stats that most people relate with great players.
16. Vince Carter
Vince Carter will forever be remembered for his spectacular athleticism and dunking ability as he should be. He is one of the best dunkers in NBA history, and in the 2000 NBA dunk contest, he showcased that.
But yes, he is also more than a dunker. He was an 8-time all-star during his career and the All-NBA 3rd and 2nd team once each. His 3rd season was possibly the best showcase of his talent. He averaged nearly 28 points a game and led the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, where they lost in 7 to the Philadelphia 76ers.
That season came immediately after the Raptors traded Tracy McGrady to the Orlando Magic. Had the two stayed together, they could have been a dominant duo throughout the 2000s, and perhaps the Raptors could have made some deep playoff runs.
After leaving the Raptors, Vince became a bit of an NBA journeyman, spending time with eight total teams before retiring in 2020 with the Atlanta Hawks. He never made an NBA Finals, which does hurt his resume. But his skill and athleticism are undeniable. He just can't be left off a list of the best shooting guards of all time.
15. Earl Monroe
Earl Monroe, better known as Earl the Pearl, was one of the NBA's first great guards. He split his time in the league between Baltimore, where he was drafted, and New York. He was one of the most inventive players in the early NBA, and possibly ever. Many of the moves modern-day guards use date back to Monroe.
Monroe, Bob Cousy, and Walt Frazier were the first guards to show off the elite ballhandling skills synonymous with modern-day guards. During his first four years in Baltimore, Monroe averaged over 20 points every season and made two all-star teams.
In 1968, the Bullets paired Monroe with a rookie by the name of Wes Unseld. The two took the team to the playoffs, where the Knicks swept them despite Monroe's 28 points per game. They lost again to New York the following year, this time in 7 games. They finally broke through in the 1971 playoffs and made the NBA finals, where they lost to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson's Milwaukee Bucks.
The following season Monroe moved to the Knicks. This is perhaps the most underrated part of his career. He had been a focal point of his team's offense up to this point, but in New York, he took a back seat as the newcomer. He averaged only 20 minutes a game that season. In the end, it was the right decision because the following year, the Knicks won the NBA title behind a full team effort.
Monroe is now a Hall of Famer with a hugely successful NBA career. His most significant contribution to the game was his creativity as a guard, which is now a staple in the league.
14. David Thompson
You might start to notice a theme on this list. These guys are all great scorers. That's what the shooting guard position is all about, and David Thompson fits the bill. He was an all-time great scorer for the Denver Nuggets during his career.
He made 2 All-NBA first teams in the late 1970s with the Nuggets. The Nuggets went to the Western Conference Finals in 1978, losing to the Seattle Supersonics in 6 games. The Western Conference Finals was the farthest Thompson ever went in the playoffs outside his trip to the ABA Finals. In this era, teams were stacked with great players, and Thompson's Nuggets never had the talent to compete.
Thompson played half of his career before the three-point line was brought over to the NBA. This just makes his scoring numbers all the more impressive. He did the bulk of his damage in the midrange or at the rim. He was one of the first great dunkers in the league, along with Julius Erving.
The two faced off in the inaugural ABA dunk contest in David Thompson's rookie year. Though not nearly as well produced or advertised as the modern-day dunk contests, the contestants had some great dunks. Thompson ended up losing the contest to Erving, who executed the first free throw line dunk. Looking around the NBA today, it's easy to see Thompson's influence; high-flying shooting guards like Zach Lavine and Donovan Mitchell are a modern-day version of Thompson.
Thompson's career was cut short by his problems with addictions. It's unfortunate as he was a great player who could have been up there with the best of them had he played longer. Even with his short career, he is still one of the great shooting guards ever.
13. Sam Jones
Sam Jones is second only to Bill Russell in terms of championships won as a player. He has as many rings as he does fingers! This is, of course, a result of playing for the 60s Celtics, but that shouldn't discount his greatness.
Because of the team he played on, he never had a huge usage which means he never averaged crazy scoring numbers. He had some of the best teammates you can ask for throughout his career. He played alongside numerous elite scorers such as Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, John Havlicek, Bill Sharman, and Tom Heinsohn. For much of his career, he stood out as the best scoring option on these Celtics teams.
He possessed the ability to score from basically anywhere on the court. He could drive to the rim or score from anywhere along the outside. Despite playing before the advent of the three-point line, it's reasonable to think that he would've been a great shooter from deep had the line been around.
Early on in his career, he played second fiddle at his position to Bill Sharman, but coach Red Auerbach always saw Jones as the successor to Bill Sharman. As he matured in the league, he proved Auerbach was correct. He perfected the bank shot he was famous for, and he continued to elevate his game in the biggest moments. This earned him a reputation as one of the most clutch players in the league.
12. Tracy McGrady
Out of all the lethal scorers on the list, Tracy McGrady might best embody that trait. He was a caricature of the typical 2000s NBA shooting guard. An elite isolation scorer with every kind of move imaginable. Insane athleticism allowing him to blow by defenders and elevate to destroy defenders at the rim. Commanding double teams on nearly every play because if left in single coverage, he will score.
In terms of offense, McGrady had everything you could ask for. In fact, he was so talented that the Raptors drafted him directly out of high school. The next year he was paired with distant cousin Vince Carter, leading to an inseparable duo for the remainder of McGrady's stay in Toronto.
His next stop was Orlando, where he became one of the best scorers in the league. While in Orlando, he was widely considered one of the best players in the league. He was top 5 in MVP voting multiple years. He led some weak Orlando teams to the playoffs before being sent to Houston.
In Houston, he and Yao Ming turned the team into perennial contenders. Unfortunately, his time in Houston was disrupted by numerous injuries, which was common throughout his career. This prevented Houston from ever breaking through. That was the story of McGrady's career.
He was an absolutely brilliant scorer but was never on the right team. His teams were generally weak, and injuries prevented any potential deep playoff runs. Perhaps his best chance was on the Raptors. The year after he left the team, they were one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Perhaps if he stayed on that team, they could've made the NBA Finals.
Despite McGrady's career never panning out, he was an amazing player and well-deserving of a spot on this list.
11. Pete Maravich
Pete Maravich, better known as Pistol Pete, was one of the most creative basketball players. On top of that, he had an otherworldly scoring ability that he put on complete display in college.
He played his college ball at LSU, where he spent four years. In his three years with the varsity team, he averaged roughly 44 points all three years! To this day, he remains the top scorer in Division 1 history. He continued this scoring prowess in the NBA, continually putting up high-scoring totals.
Even considering his inane scoring ability, Maravich's most recognizable trait will always be his flair. Every pass, shot, or dribble was something special when he was playing. He brought flamboyancy to the game that had really never been seen before. He could confuse defenders beyond belief, turning a simple pass into a series of fakes that created a wide-open shot.
All of his skill never amounted to much winning. During the prime of his career, he never made it past the first round of the playoffs. Atlanta drafted Maravich, and they made it to the playoffs 3 times but lost in the first round each time. He was later traded to the New Orleans Jazz and never made the playoffs with them. His final season was spent on the Boston Celtics in a much smaller role. That team did make the Eastern Conference Finals, but not with Pistol Pete as the star.
Pete was an amazing player, but it never translated to winning. It's enough to make him one of the best shooting guards of all time, but not enough to put him in the upper echelon.
10. Ray Allen
Ray Allen started his career with the Milwaukee Bucks. If you didn't know that, I don't blame you. Sometimes it feels like only the second half of his career exists. His championship seasons in Boston and then Miami. He's remembered mainly for those years, being an elite three-point shooter. Yes, that's an important part of his career, but his prime years are often forgotten.
Yes, Ray Allen was great on the Celtics and Heat, but his prime years came in Milwaukee and Seattle. In the 2000-01 NBA season, Allen, Glenn Robinson, and Sam Cassell led Milwaukee to the Eastern Conference Finals. Ray Allen stepped up in those playoffs and showed the world how good he was. This was only Allen's second All-Star season, so the league hadn't seen what he was fully capable of yet.
They didn't have to wait long. In the Eastern Conference Finals that year, he went toe-to-toe with Allen Iverson. The series went 7 games, and Ray Allen averaged 27 points a game throughout. This includes a 38 point showing to steal game 2 in Philadelphia in which Ray hit 7 threes!
The Bucks decided not to keep their strong core together. By the end of the next season, all 3 of their stars were gone, with Ray Allen being traded to Seattle.
The Supersonics neve made a deep playoff run with Ray Allen on the team. They never had a good enough team around Allen to be a serious threat. As a result, Allen put up some gaudy numbers in Seattle but could never translate that to team success. The situation wasn't his fault, though. That is clearly evidenced by the latter half of his career, in which he translated all his talent into team success with the Celtics.
Ray Allen played an integral role on championship teams, but he could also raise the floor of some bad teams. He did a lot more than just shooting threes during his career, and that's what makes him one of the best shooting guards of all time.
9. Reggie Miller
Just like Ray Allen, Reggie Miller is most recognized as an elite three-point shooter. He was considered the best shooter of all time in his day. In fact, Reggie held the record for most three-pointers until Ray Allen came along and broke it.
Reggie Miller spent his entire career with the Indiana Pacers, and as a result, was part of a few good "cores." The most playoff success the Pacers found with Reggie came in the 2000 playoffs when they went to the finals but lost to the Lakers. At this point, Reggie was already 34, nearing the tail end of his career. Despite being past his prime, he averaged 24 points a game in the playoffs, carrying his team to the finals. On the way, he had to drop 34 points against the Knicks to win game 7 of the eastern conference finals—the last of many daggers he stabbed into Knicks fans' hearts.
Reggie and New York had one of the greatest basketball rivalries of all time. The Knicks and their fans all hated Reggie, and he hated them right back. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Reggie Miller seemed to save his best for the Knicks. He averaged 23.5 points when playing at MSG in the playoffs. He had numerous unforgettable performances to down the Knicks in the playoffs.
In the 1994 NBA playoffs, the Pacers and Knicks met in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks were heavy favorites, but Reggie made it anything but easy for them. In-game 5, he dropped 25 points in the fourth, completing a huge comeback and taunting Spike Lee the whole time.
In the 1995 playoffs, the two teams met earlier. The Pacers defeated the Knicks in the 2nd round of the playoffs that year. In-game 1 of that series, Reggie Miller, had 8 points in the final 9 seconds of the game. Just another time, he obliterated the Knicks playoff hopes.
Reggie Miller's rivalry with the Knicks is easily the most memorable part of his career. It showcases his amazing clutch play, three-point shooting, and trash talk.
8. George Gervin
George Gervin, along with Julius Erving and David Thompson, was part of a high-flying generation of NBA stars. The 70s saw players who could glide through the air and make seemingly impossible finishes at the basket. It was something never seen before in the league, and George Gervin made it look easy.
He was a 12-time all-star and made an All-NBA team 9 times. He's one of the greatest scorers the league has ever seen, even though he played before the three-pointer had any kind of popularity. His athletic ability made him nearly impossible to stop at the rim. He wasn't limited to finishing at the rim either. He had a great jump shot that he could employ if opponents focused too much on his drives.
Gervin led his team deep into the playoffs year after year, but they never broke through and made the finals. He is one of a seemingly infinite crop of elite scoring shooting guards that the NBA has seen over its years. What set him apart was how beautifully he played the game.
Everything he did was silky smooth. He made basketball look like art on the court. The whole time he kept an icy cool composure, earning him his famous nickname "Iceman." All this is what makes Gervin one of the best shooting guards of all time.
7. James Harden
As with all current players, Harden is tough to rank. He's one of the best players in the league currently, and there is definitely ample evidence supporting a higher ranking for him. When his career is all said and done, it will be hard to keep him out of the top 5, But for now, I have him in the 6th spot.
He is easily the best passer on this list. That isn't normally a shooting guard's job, but Harden does it with ease. A lot of his time with Houston and the Nets, you could argue he was playing point guard. Even regarding that, it's hard to consider him as anything but a shooting guard. The NBA sees positions go by the wayside, so just because Harden does a lot of the ballhandling doesn't necessarily mean he's a point guard.
Along with the passing, his scoring is inevitable. No matter what you do defensively, Harden will score. Give him an inch of room, and he'll drop in a step-back 3. Stay close to him, and he'll blow by you for an easy floater. There's nothing you can do except hope he misses. In the 2018-19 season, Harden had an immense usage rating of 40.5%, leading to him averaging 36 points. That was the highest single-season scoring average since Michael Jordan in 1986.
The only thing that has escaped Harden so far is a championship. The closest he came was in 2017-18 when the Rockets made the western conference finals. They were up 3-2 against the Warriors, but Chris Paul got injured, and the Warriors won the series. If Harden can add a championship to his resume (and maybe a Finals MVP), He will undoubtedly be one of the league's 5 best shooting guards of all time. For now, he remains on the outside looking in.
6. Clyde Drexler
Clyde Drexler is an all-time great player who sometimes gets lost in history. It's hard for him to get all the recognition he deserved because he played in the biggest shadow in NBA history.
He spent most of his time in Portland before being traded to Houston late in his career. Throughout his early years in Portland, Drexler put up huge numbers in the regular season to bring his team to the playoffs. Once there, they struggled to make waves until 1990, that is.
After losing in the first round of the playoffs four years in a row, the Blazers went all the way to the finals in 1990. They ran into one of the all-time great teams in the Pistons and lost 4-1. But making the finals was a significant upgrade from the past few seasons. Drexler proved that he was good enough to be the best player on a championship-contending team.
The following year was a bit of a down year for Drexler and the Trailblazers, but they still made it to the Western Conference Finals. Clearly, Drexler missed being in the NBA Finals because he came back the next season with a vengeance.
He averaged 25 points, made the All-NBA first team, and finished second in MVP voting. He brought the Blazers right back to the finals, where they lost to the Bulls and Micheal Jordan. For the next couple of years, Drexler was dealing with injuries, and by the middle of the decade, he was ready to leave Portland.
This resulted in him heading to Houston, where he was finally able to secure that elusive championship. Not as the focal point of the team, but he still played an important role that year. The championship was the icing on the cake of a great career for Clyde. A career that makes him one of the best shooting guards of all time.
5. Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson is always one of the first names you think of when it comes to the best shooting guards of all time. His scoring ability was incredible. In a league filled with scorers during the 2000s, Iverson stood out as one of the best. He led the league in scoring 4 times during his career. This is a league with Kobe, Shaq, McGrady, Pierce, and tons of other elite scorers.
He was going toe-to-toe with the best players in the league, despite being half a foot shorter than most of them. The scoring ability at his size has just never been matched in the NBA and likely never will be. How did he score at the level he did? One word: crossover.
Though not the first player to use a crossover move, Allen Iverson undoubtedly gave the move its greatest popularity. His shiftiness and elite first step allowed him to use crossovers to lose his opponents. He could then drive to the rim and finish or take open jump shots. He had so many different variations of crossovers or moves he could combine with. It's why he's widely regarded as having the best ballhandling skills of all time.
He was able to ride this elite ability all the way to the NBA Finals in 2001. That season he led the league in scoring and steals, won the MVP, and averaged 33 points a game while playing 46 minutes a game in the playoffs!! This run was just otherworldly. The 76ers lost the finals that year, but Iverson showed the world just how good he was.
He could never make it back to the Finals, but he had already proved what he had to prove. He was one of the best shooting guards of all time.
4. Dwyane Wade
What elevates Dwyane Wade over some of the players below him is championships. He's won 3 altogether—one in 2006 with Shaq and the other two in the early 2010s with the Heatles. Not many other great shooting guards have that many championships as the main cog in their team, which is enough to put Dwayne at the 4th spot.
In his last two championships, he was the clear number 2 on the team. LeBron was the best player both of those years, but Wade still played a huge part in those wins. He was arguably the best player on his 2006 championship team. Shaq was on the team as well, but Dwyane Wade went absolutely nuclear in the Finals that year as the Heat came back from down 2-0 to beat the Mavs 4-2.
Wade averaged 35/8/4 in the series, which are just god-tier numbers in a Finals series. That's the 11th highest scoring average in a Finals ever! The Mavs defense just couldn't stop him during that series. He showcased all of his offensive games. Unrelenting drives to the rim, unstoppable mid-range game, it was all on show for the world to see. On top of all that, he was only in his 3rd season at this point.
That Finals was a bit of a coming-out party for Wade. He kept up his superstar talent throughout the rest of his career, dragging some weak Miami teams to the playoffs year after year. Then LeBron and Bosh joined him in Miami, and the rest is history.
Wade recently retired, and so far, his career post-basketball is going just as well as when he was a player. Nobodies head the last of him, and that's a great thing. He's one of the best shooting guards of all time, and there's no debate.
3. Jerry West
Jerry West needs no introduction. You already know him. You see him every day. Yep, he was so good that the NBA made him into their logo. His grace, speed, and skill perfectly encapsulated what the NBA is all about. He's the perfect player to put on the logo because he was a pioneer for many commonplace things in the modern NBA.
He had an amazing jumper, first of all. He played long before the three-point line, so one can only imagine the damage he would have done from behind the arc. His rapid release allowed him to shoot jumpers at any time. He was amazing in the clutch, and so the Lakers always relied on him to take the finals shot.
He was also great at getting to the rim. That started with his ballhandling skills. He was one of the best ballhandlers when skillful dribbling was restricted by rules that have long since been abolished or changed. He could blow by defenders and get to the rim for easy layups.
If he hadn't played at the time of the Celtics dynasty, he would likely have many more than just his one championship. He took his Lakers to finals after finals only to lose to the Celtics. Jerry West is still the only player to win the Finals MVP award while playing for the losing team. They finally broke through in 1972. West, an obsessive winner, was relieved to finally win a title.
He is a rare case where he was an elite player his whole career. In all 14 seasons, he played he was an All-Star. He never won an MVP, but he played well enough to win a few. It's a little hard to win the award when you're competing with Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robertson. West is undoubtedly one of the game's best shooting guards of all time and was the first great shooting guard.
2. Kobe Bryant
There's no argument for anybody else at the top two spots on this list. Everything before here can be shifted around slightly, but the top 2 are cemented in here for the foreseeable future.
Kobe might be the most skilled offensive player ever. Jordan was obviously an offensive superstar that could not be stopped in any situation. He had the move and counter move for every situation. But Kobe took everything that Jordan did and perfected something that was already so perfect. His work ethic was beyond ridiculous, and that allowed him to create possibly the perfect offensive game we will ever see from a shooting guard.
This level of skill helped him win 5 championships. It helped him become an 18-time All-Star and 11 time 1st team All-NBA player. It helped him dominate the 2000s. I've mentioned earlier how the 2000s were full of athletic scoring 2-guards. Well, if you're wondering why it's because of Jordan. All these guys grew up watching Jordan and wanted to be him. You can see it in their game, from Vince Carter to Tracy McGrady to Kobe. None of them could ever reach what Jordan was to the NBA, but Kobe came closer than anybody.
In his first three titles, he played alongside Shaq and was arguably not the best player on the team. But the last two came with him as the clear number 1. When you're on lists of all-time greats, that's important. Kobe proved he could do it as the number one. Bryant proved he could take a team all the way when all the focus was put on him.
What keeps him below Jordan? It's hard to explain. Jordan just had the It factor. He was a phenomenon for the NBA, unlike anything else. He transcended the league and became a worldwide icon. And he did with on slightly better efficiency as well.
But that's no knock on Kobe. He's not only one of the best shooting guards of all time. He's straight-up one of the best players of all time.
1. Michael Jordan
There was only one man who could take this top spot. The GOAT, Michael Jordan. When he came to the league, it was still just beginning to gain popularity. The 1984 NBA Finals had an average rating of 12.1. That wasn't a boring finals matchup. This was Celtics-Lakers. The two best teams in the league, with a ton of the best players in the league, are writing a new chapter in the most historic rivalry in basketball. that got a rating of 12.1, which means 12.1% of US TV households watched the Finals.
When Jordan left, the league was a worldwide show. The ratings for Jordan's last finals in 1998 were an average of 18.7. That is a huge difference from 1984. In 14 years, Jordan took the league from a relatively big deal to a massive, can't miss it event. When Jordan left, the Finals ratings dropped to 11.3 the next year (this is slightly exaggerated as it was a lockout year). The league has literally never been the same since. The 1998 NBA Finals are still the highest rated of all time.
That is just one way of many to demonstrate just how otherworldly Jordan was. I could talk about all his accolades, stats, and championships, but we've all already heard everything that he's done. He won 6 titles, all as the clear-cut best player on his team. Jordan hit countless daggers and clutch shots to win countless big games. He's so different than anything we've ever seen and will ever see again.
His basketball talent allowed him to transcend basketball and become a living legend worldwide. He did it to the degree that may be no other American athlete ever has. For all these reasons, he's considered the GOAT (greatest of all time). So without a doubt, I can say he's not just one of the best shooting guards of all time. He's the best.