Every basketball player used to want to be a shooting guard. From Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant, shooting guards were the bucket-getters, the alphas, the don’t-even-look-at-me-the-wrong-way-or-I’m-dropping-60-on-your-head type of ruthless gladiators.
Fast forward to present day, and shooting guard is probably the weakest position in the league in terms of depth. Part of that is because the demands of modern basketball have changed the nature of a traditional two-guard, which means that many are now classified as point guards. Players like James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and even Stephen Curry might have been shooting guards in a bygone era, but they’re now some of the premier point guards in the league.
Likewise, because of the emergence of more skill-heavy lineups (we won’t say small-ball because these players aren’t really small), players like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, DeMar DeRozan have shifted full-time to small forward.
In reality, it’s hard to find NBA players we’d traditionally classify as a shooting guard because positions shift so often, but we here on the CBS Sports NBA team have done our best to identify and celebrate the top 22 shooting guards heading into the 2022-23 season. Keep in mind that we’re projecting potential improvement and decline into our rankings, and that our full Top 100 Players list will be released on Tuesday.
Shooting guards may not look exactly like they used to, but there are still some big-time scorers and playmakers at the position. Take a look at the full list below.
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Payton went from a partially guaranteed contract to a key piece of the Warriors‘ 2022 championship. It netted him a financial-future-securing three-year, $26 million deal with the Blazers this summer. Portland is getting a defensive ace who’s an elite positional rebounder, floor runner and half-court cutter. Payton isn’t a self-creating scorer by any means (83 percent of his buckets were assisted last season), but he will make the absolute most of every touch he gets, registering a 99th percentile 134.9 points per 100 shot attempts last season, per Cleaning the Glass. — Brad Botkin
Green suffered through an incredibly inefficient first half of his rookie season — as most young guards do — but he exploded in his final 25 games, averaging 22 points on 48/39/76 shooting splits and topping the 30-point mark in six of his last seven games. During those 25 games, Green knocked down 41 percent of his pull-up 3s, putting him on par with players like Darius Garland, Kyrie Irving and Jrue Holiday. While it may have been an end-of-the-year blip for a bad team, Green’s strong finish lays the blueprint for a second-year leap. — Colin Ward-Henninger
With the Pacers beginning a rebuild and the Lakers ever circling, how long will Hield’s sojourn in Indianapolis last? That is the main storyline surrounding the 29-year-old entering the season. Whether a trade comes or not, it’s easy to see why teams are interested; his 36.6 3-point percentage last season was a career-low. He’s also one of the best high-volume shooters in the league, and contenders can always use help in that area. — Jack Maloney
There were stretches during Boston’s run to the Finals, and in the Finals, when White was the most important player on the floor. He can find his 3-point shot in spurts and get in the paint to open the floor for Boston’s star scorers, but mostly he’s a two-way glue guy whose basketball IQ was described by Gregg Popovich as “off the charts.” That the Celtics can bring a guy this impactful off the bench is a luxury. — Brad Botkin
Huerter puts the “shooting” in “shooting guard,” hitting 39 percent of his 3-pointers last season while landing in the 92nd percentile in catch-and-shoot situations, per Synergy. He’s also capable of some secondary playmaking as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, though those situations occasionally show the limitations that put him at 18th on this list. At 6-7, he can hold his own defensively and guard multiple positions, which allows his elite shooting to stay on the floor. — Colin Ward-Henninger
Rozier left the Celtics in large part because he wanted a bigger role that was never going to be available in Boston, and he’s proven he’s capable of handling such responsibility. In all three of his seasons with the Hornets he’s averaged at least 18 points, four rebounds and four assists, and never shot worse than 37.4 percent from 3-point land. He may not be among the league’s elite shooting guards but he has solidified himself as a definite starter. — Jack Maloney
Sexton will likely have an opportunity to put up some serious numbers as a starting guard in Utah. When he was fully healthy two seasons ago he averaged over 24 points and four assists per performance while shooting over 47 percent from the floor and 37 percent from long range. After an injury, a trade and a new contract, Sexton will likely be eager to regain his status as one of the best young two guards in the league. — Michael Kaskey-Blomain
Bogdanovic fell off across the board as a shooter last season, but he can be highly flammable on any given night. His 47 percent on corner 3s last season, per Cleaning the Glass, was 87th percentile and positions him as a catch-and-shoot complement to the creation of Trae Young and now Dejounte Murray. — Brad Botkin
Powell has sometimes played small forward in his career, but he fits the bill for a traditional bucket-getting shooting guard. He was the elite of the elite last season in terms of spot-up shooting, landing in the 92nd percentile in catch-and-shoot situations, per Synergy. In his time with both the Blazers and Clippers, Powell put up 19 points per game on extremely efficient 46/42/81 shooting splits last season — not bad for what should be the third scoring option on a healthy Clippers team. — Colin Ward-Henninger
It’s fitting that Curry is a shooting guard, because shooting is exactly where he excels. As a career 43 percent shooter from long range, Curry is the league’s active leader in three-point percentage, and he’s been in the top six in that category in each of the past four seasons. He’s an ideal complement to ball-dominant players like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, as he takes pressure off of them by always being ready to knock down shots. — Michael Kaskey-Blomain
Simons can score in bunches, and he can do it at all three levels. Like CJ McCollum before him, he’ll start and close games at the 2 next to Damian Lillard and run point when Lillard rests. He was one of the most improved players in the NBA last season, and the next step is continuing to round out his game: maintain the lights-out efficiency from the perimeter, get to the line more often, and improve as an on-ball defender. All the guys who handle the sort of defensive attention that Simons saw last season are stars. — James Herbert
Herro is arguably Miami’s most dangerous creator given his pull-up aptitude; Herro, who shot 40 percent from 3 overall, netted 1.07 points per off-the-dribble jumper last season, per Synergy, which puts him in the statistical neighborhood of Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Poole and 2020-21 DeMar DeRozan; Herro’s 7.5 pull-up points per game last season matched Jayson Tatum. Herro is a natural offensive creator for both himself and others, but his defense has to catch up. — Brad Botkin
Trent has continued to grow in confidence since joining the Raptors, and he has backed it up as one of the best high-volume 3-point shooters in the NBA — a quality that lands him as a top-10 shooting guard in the league. What separates Trent from other spot-up shooters is his ability to put the ball on the floor, initiating a decent amount of pick-and-rolls and isolations last season. At 6-5, he can also guard multiple positions, making him an ideal shooting guard for the switchy Toronto defense. — Colin Ward-Henninger
Given how dominant Stephen Curry has been for the better part of the last decade, it’s a wonder that the league isn’t full of guys who take deep pull-ups and contested 3s off movement. Then again, nobody outside of Golden State runs a system like Steve Kerr’s. This is to say that it’s hard to know how Poole would have developed had he been drafted anywhere else, but the Warriors are surely thrilled to have another guard who likes to run around screens, create off the dribble and shoot from the parking lot. Poole’s poor on-ball defense was exposed in the playoffs, but he still managed to make an imprint in the NBA Finals. Only 10 players averaged more than 22 points per 36 minutes on better than 59.5 percent true shooting last season, and the 23-year-old is the only one who isn’t a multi-time All-Star. — Colin Ward-Henninger
The Grizzlies reportedly made Bane untouchable in their Kevin Durant trade discussions this summer, which tells you all you need to know about his ascension. In just two short seasons, he has become one of the best 3-and-D players in the league and a key part of the Grizzlies’ young core. Last season he became the 10th player in league history to make at least 200 3s in a season while shooting at least 43 percent. — Jack Maloney
Even as he was getting his bearings after missing two full seasons, Thompson still managed to average 20 points per game on 39 percent 3-point shooting in 32 regular-season games last year. His limitations were a little more evident in the playoffs, but history would suggest that he’ll be stronger this season as his strength and muscle memory return. Thompson will be able to shoot for the rest of his life, but the biggest question is whether he can return to the All-Defense level stopper he was before the injuries. — Colin Ward-Henninger
Murray is slotted as a shooting guard here, but that doesn’t mean the Hawks are going to try to use him like Klay Thompson. He’s simply too good of a playmaker — last season, he was one of the best and most prolific drivers in the NBA, despite San Antonio’s iffy spacing. In a best-case scenario, the partnership between Murray and Young will make both better off the ball and make the Hawks’ offense less predictable. Murray will run the second unit, he’ll rebound like crazy and he’ll defend the opposing team’s best perimeter player. Having almost averaged a triple-double and led the league in steals and deflections, he is used to doing a little bit of everything. — James Herbert
We saw shades of Edwards being among the best shooting guards in the league last season, after improving his efficiency across the board, specifically his 3-point shooting. He’s also improved as a secondary ball handler for the Timberwolves, going from generating 0.793 points per possession in the pick-and-roll his rookie season to 0.852 points per possession last season. His improvement as a shooter, finisher around the rim and facilitator is one of the reasons Minnesota made it to the playoffs. — Jasmyn Wimbish
When it comes to putting the ball in the basket, there are not many guards who can do it better than Beal. He averaged over 30 points per game during the 2019-20 and ’20-21 seasons, and he’s a career 37 percent shooter from long range. He was hampered by injury issues last season, and his production dipped because of it, but as long as he’s healthy moving forward, he should be right back near the top of the list of the highest scorers in the league. — Michael Kaskey-Blomain
The beauty of LaVine’s game is he can be just as effective scoring off the dribble as he is in spot-up situations. Last season was the first time he really had to defer on offense playing alongside DeMar DeRozan, and while his numbers took a very minor step back, it didn’t harm his efficiency much. So don’t sleep on his silky smooth midrange jumper or his 3-point shot. And don’t lose track of him either, for he’ll still look to cut to the rim to finish with an electrifying dunk. — Jasmyn Wimbish
Pull-up 3s, fancy finishes, mid-range game. Mitchell’s skill level is insane. At 6-foot-1, he is almost always guarded by a bigger, stronger wing defender, but he has all the tricks he needs to create offense for himself. And while he’s not a premier passer, he has grown leaps and bounds in that area. Mitchell has proven he can be the lead playmaker for an elite offensive team, and there’s not a long list of players who can say the same. Given that he has a 6-foot-10 wingspan, though, and that he was projected to be a 3-and-D guy coming out of college, his defensive issues have been disturbing. With a change of scenery and more length and athleticism around him, he needs to show he can hold his own against wings. — James Herbert
When it comes to pure scoring, you won’t find many players better than Booker. Last season he put up a career-high 26.8 points per game (eighth in the league) on 46.6/38.3/86.8 shooting splits. Not quite a historic 50/40/90 season, but only four other players in the league managed those shooting numbers on at least 20 points per game. His ability to create a shot whenever and wherever is invaluable for the Suns. — Jack Maloney