With the race for the 2023/24 NBA championship title starting in just a matter of days, here we take a look at the top five shooting guards in the NBA heading into the season.
Fans can be forgiven if Zach LaVine doesn’t jump to mind as a top-five shooting guard. During his six seasons in Chicago, the Bulls have reached the playoffs just once, not counting Play-In games.
However, LaVine has emerged as a star for the Bulls.
The two-time All-Star averaged 24.8 points and shot 37.5% from three-point range last season, overcoming a slow start after offseason knee surgery. He and DeMar DeRoazan form a clutch tandem that need to push the fairly young Bulls roster to the next level, despite losing Lonzo Ball indefinitely.
If Jaylen Brown was still under-the-radar compared to teammate Jayson Tatum, that definitely changed this offseason when the shooting guard signed a five-year, $304 million supermax contract extension, the richest in NBA history.
Brown had career highs in points (26.9) and rebounds (6.9) per game, and added 3.5 assists while finishing in the All-NBA Second Team.
The Celtics have made the playoffs in each of Brown’s seven seasons with the team, reaching the Eastern Conference finals in five of them.
For the Celtics to win their first NBA title since 2008 and their 18th in franchise history, Brown will most likely need to take his game to an even higher level.
Donovan Mitchell came over to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Utah Jazz via trade ahead of the 2022/23 season and helped to immediately transform the franchise.
Cleveland finished 51-31 and made the playoffs for the first time in the five years since the end of the second LeBron James hometown tour.
Mitchell averaged a career-high 28.3 points to go with 4.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 38.6% from behind the three-point line. The four-time All-Star made the All-NBA Second team while leading one of the best defenses in the league.
Mitchell also set a franchise record when he became just the seventh player in NBA history to surpass 70 points in a game, scoring 71 in an overtime win over the Chicago Bulls in January.
The No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Georgia continues to blossom.
Anthony Edwards averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals as the Minnesota Timberwolves made back-to-back appearances in the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades. He scored 24.6 points a game and shot 36.9% from three-point range while making his first All-Star team.
After the season, Edwards’ star shined even brighter while leading Team USA at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Although the United States finished a disappointing fourth in the tournament, Edwards led the team with 18.9 points with a game-high of 35 in a win over Lithuania in the second round.
Edwards just turned 22, but he is already a centerpiece of Minnesota’s long-term blueprint.
The Phoenix Suns came close to winning it all in 2021, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals in six games.
Since then, the Suns have faltered twice in the Western Conference semifinals. Phoenix added Kevin Durant at the trade deadline last spring and made a big splash this offseason when trading for Bradley Beal. However, if the Suns are to win their first NBA title, shooting guard Devin Booker will still be the key.
The three-time All-Star and 2021/22 All-NBA First Team selection was reduced to a career-low 53 regular season games last season, but still averaged a career-high 27.8 points to go with 5.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Those numbers jumped across the board in the postseason, to 33.7 points, 7.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
With another top 10 shooting guard in Beal, Booker and the Suns have the chance to replicate the Denver Nuggets’ success last season and get over the hump, but Booker may need to become more of a facilitator to make that happen.