1. Dwyane Wade
Wade, James Harden, and Kobe Bryant, or some iteration of the three, are widely considered the only stars at shooting guard. Wade’s defense is the decisive factor in creating the slight separation between himself, Harden and Bryant.
While Wade is not always dedicated defensively, he positively affects Miami at that end far more often than Harden and Bryant do their teams. Harden and Bryant have very little interest in on-ball defense, and can often be found drifting off their man, floating on defense without purpose.
While Wade’s effort can be criticized, he is more consistent defensively than either Harden or Bryant, and has a greater impact at maximum effort as well. Though Wade benefits from playing with LeBron James, his offensive efficiency may be equally valuable to the slightly less efficient creation of Harden and Bryant.
2. James Harden, Houston Rockets
Often called the future of the shooting guard position, James Harden is already the present. At only 24 years old, Harden is one of the best offensive players in the league. Though he can score from anywhere on the court, he generally restricts his shot selection to only the most efficient areas–behind the arc and at the rim.
The Rockets have built their entire offense around him in the pick and roll. Along with being an incredible scorer, Harden is one of the best passers in the league, and repeatedly finds teammates for open threes as defenses collapse on his drives. At 50.4 percent, Harden and Bryant have the exact same adjusted field goal percentage. What separates Harden from Bryant, and most of the league, is his ability to draw fouls. Harden’s true shooting percentage, which includes free throws, is 60 percent, which is incredible for a guard, while Bryant’s is slightly less efficient 57 percent.
3. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Though Bryant’s season may be remembered for his Achilles injury, his offensive performance this season was very impressive. Fighting old age, injuries, roster instability, coaching change and possibly Dwight Howard, Kobe finished with his highest true-shooting percentage since the 2007-08 season, and the highest assist percentage of his career.
Though his defense was often crippling, his offense was brilliant. With him on the court, the Lakers scored 110.4 points per 100 possessions. Bryant is often criticized for his supposed “selfishness,” but had a higher assist percentage than Harden, who rarely suffers the same criticisms.