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Six Underrated Shooting Guards

James Blancarte takes a look at six underrated shooting guards who deserve your attention.

James Blancarte



The modern NBA game is built around pace and space. Point guards tend to score more, three-guard lineups are frequently used and prototypical wing-players are commonly asked to play as undersized power forwards and even centers at times. Accordingly, positional designations have become less concrete.

Regardless, the position of shooting guard is still an appropriate designation for a number of off-ball players. Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal are well recognized for their strong contributions at the two-guard position. However, several other shooting guards are somewhat overlooked. Below are six shooting guards who don’t get enough attention or credit for their respective skill and impact.

Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz

After nearly losing the ball in the backcourt in a close game last week, Hood rose to the occasion with a pull-up three-pointer with 50.3 seconds remaining. Hood stepped up in the absence of All-Star forward Gordon Hayward and sealed the game for the Utah Jazz.

“I can come out and be aggressive, especially tonight with Gordon out and [Derrick Favors] still out,” Hood remarked. “My teammates were looking for me to do that tonight.”

This win came at a time when the Utah Jazz are fighting to keep home court with a likely first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers looming. For a team that must fight for a piece of the national spotlight, most attention is given to defensive star Rudy Gobert and team centerpiece Hayward, but let’s now give credit to the underappreciated play of Hood.

For the season, Hood sports a 2.1 plus/minus individual rating and he has a 106.7 offensive rating and a 101.9 defensive rating. Both the offense and defense are better with him on the court and in 27.1 minutes, he has a 23 usage percentage. Hood is a solid ball-handler who can both makes plays for others off the dribble and effectively attack the basket. His combination of size, mobility and shooting makes him a valuable contributor for a Jazz team that is powered primarily by its defense.

As covered in this space last week, the team is poised to make some noise in the playoffs and Hood can play a big part in that. If Hood can play solid defense and knock down some big shots in the postseason, he may start receiving the recognition he deserves amongst other shooting guards.

Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon has been playing at a very high level this season. Gordon, once seen as a potential cornerstone player for the Los Angeles Clippers next to a young forward Blake Griffin and later a potential cornerstone for the Hornets/Pelicans, has struggled with injuries for years, only playing an average of 44 games a season in New Orleans. Now in his ninth season, Gordon has become a reliable, valuable and underrated contributor and a key reason for the unexpected success of the Rockets, who like to get to the rim and shoot a massive number of three-pointers.

In 31 minutes per game, the second lowest average in his nine NBA seasons, Gordon sports a career-high 53.7 effective shooting percentage. This includes increasing his three-point attempts to a ridiculous 8.8 per game, by far a career-high, while maintaining a 38 percent average, which is on par with his better shooting seasons. In fact, 65.6 percent of his shots are three pointers, by far a career high. Gordon knows how valuable his three-point shooting is to the Rockets, so when he has an open look from distances, he’s taking and making them. Gordon also managed to win this year’s Three-Point Shootout at All-Star Weekend, knocking out other marksmen like Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving.

Gordon’s contributions this season are somewhat overlooked because of James Harden’s incredible season, his injury history and his lack of national exposure on the postseason stage. Gordon played in four playoff games in 2014-15, where he performed well individually but New Orleans suffered a sweep. Accordingly, most NBA fans have only seen him play sporadically in regular season games and may not be familiar with how effective he has been this season. Now Gordon will have a chance to make his mark in the upcoming playoffs alongside Harden. If Gordon can spread the court, knock down three-pointers consistently, make the occasional play off the dribble and play solid perimeter defense, his profile should get the boost it arguably already deserves.

Seth Curry, Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Seth Curry is a player that has received plenty of attention for many reasons, starting as early as his NBA debut in the 2013-2014 season. These include simply being the brother of Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, and a curiosity as to whether he could eventually become a viable NBA player.

Last season, fans wondered whether his surprising play in 44 games for a losing Sacramento Kings squad foreshadowed a bright future, or whether he simply succeeded in putting up empty statistics for a team that never had a realistic shot of winning at a high level or making the playoffs.

This season, Curry’s minutes have nearly doubled (29, up from 15.7) and he has been able to maintain high shooting marks despite drawing much more attention from opposing defenses as a main offensive weapon for the Mavericks. He is shooting 48.1 percent overall, 42.5 percent from three and sports a 57.8 percent effective shooting mark. His effective shooting ranks seventh among all guards this season with at least 25 games played.

Curry still has his shortcomings. He is not an elite athlete and can be physically overmatched by his opponents at times. But he has really developed his ability to create space with his ball handling abilities, jabs, fakes and ability to utilize screens from teammates. Curry has come a long way since he first entered the NBA scene, and it looks as though he still has room to keep developing and improving.

In less than two seasons, Curry has not only silenced the critics of his late season play with Sacramento, but is now being treated as a foundational player for the Mavericks. Not bad for a guy who gained recognition early on primarily for being Steph Curry’s brother.

Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

Like Curry, Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers has found himself talked about by NBA fans for reasons other than his actual play on the court, including having a more well-known NBA family member. Rivers’ father, a former NBA player himself, is the coach and general manager for the Clippers and authorized the move to acquire his son a few seasons ago.

Doc Rivers has been properly chastised for failing to consistently support the Clippers star players with supplemental talent over the last few seasons. However, Austin Rivers has blossomed into a two-way player and critical bench player for the team. Although Rivers failed to live up his draft status in New Orleans (drafted 10th overall in 2012), he is now thriving with the Clippers. In 27.8 minutes, Rivers has a 20.3 percent usage and is shooting 44 percent from the field, 37 percent from three, while recording 2.8 assists and shooting 69 percent on free throws — all career highs.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, Rivers recently suffered a hamstring strain that will cause him to miss the rest of the regular season and at least some of the playoffs.

“I was looking forward to this year’s playoffs. The goal was game one of the playoffs, but it’s looking like hopefully mid-first round, early second round. We’ll see. You never know, I might heal faster than I think,” Rivers stated.

Now, the team must enter a high stakes first round match up with the Jazz without Rivers and test how far this team can go without his contributions.

Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets

Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets doesn’t get the notoriety of other big name guards. Teammate Nikola Jokic has commanded much of the attention in Denver this season for his stellar play, but Harris is deserving of recognition as well. In his third season, Harris has been playing quite well for the Nuggets, who still have hopes of making the playoffs.

The Nuggets play high scoring basketball and Harris is a key contributor with a 114.9 offensive rating, a top mark amongst all guards in the league. His superb shooting certainly plays a huge part in this effort. In 30.8 minutes, Harris is shooting 49.8 percent from the field, 41.8 percent from three with an effective field goal rate of 58.1 percent, nearly tops amongst all guards and ahead of Steph Curry.

Coach Michael Malone explained what Harris has done to be so effective this season.

“Gary Harris, if you had to give grades for the offseason, Gary Harris had a phenomenal offseason. He was in our gym almost every day. He worked on his body. He worked on his shooting. He worked on his handles. I think that all of that hard work pays off and you see his confidence at a very high level right now,” Coach Malone stated.

With the Nuggets in ninth place and in a tight playoff race, Harris may miss out on the opportunity to show off his talents in the postseason. But as a key members on an up-and-coming Nuggets squad, Harris shouldn’t be overlooked for much longer.

Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings

At this point, Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield is best known for being the primary asset received in exchange for superstar big man DeMarcus Cousins, and for being compared to Steph Curry by owner Vivek Ranadive. Either way, the rookie guard has been subject to criticism largely out of his control. Without Cousins, the spotlight has been off of the Kings and Hield. What has he done since? He has quietly put together an impressive finish to his rookie year in Sacramento.

Since being traded, Hield has improved his scoring (8.6 up to 14.4 points per game), shooting (39.2 percent up to 49.3 percent), and three point shooting (36.9 percent to 42.5 percent), with additional increases to his field goal attempts, rebounding, assists and steals. This increase in production is notable, as he has become more efficient while playing more minutes and taking on a larger role on offense. Additionally, over this period his effective shooting mark of 60.9 percent with the Kings is seventh amongst all guards in the NBA with at least 10 games played.

Hield has been a pleasant surprise for the Kings since the trade, but eventually he will have to prove that he can perform at this level when surrounded by more talent and while playing on a team that is competing for a playoff position. But for now, it’s fun to see a player thrive in what many considered to be a no-win position. Although the Kings gave up on their mercurial franchise player, the team may still be rewarded if Hield continues to display such impressive, rapid improvement.


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G-League Watch: 10-Day Contracts

David Yapkowitz looks at five potential G-League callups for 10-day contracts.

David Yapkowitz



Since Jan. 10, NBA teams have been able to sign players from the G-League to ten-day contracts. A few have already been signed, such as DeAndre Liggins with the Milwaukee Bucks and Kyle Collinsworth with the Dallas Mavericks.

Once a ten-day contract expires, teams have the option of signing that player to another ten-day contract. After the second ten-day, teams must either sign the player for the remainder of the season or release that player.

Some players have used ten-day contracts to essentially jump-start their careers. Bruce Bowen was once a ten-day contract player before becoming a key piece of multiple championship teams in San Antonio. Famed New York Knicks enforcer Anthony Mason also got his first chance in the league off a ten-day contract.

With a few guys already being called up via ten-day as well as the NBA’s new two-way contracts, here’s a look at some of the remaining names who might be next in line.

1. Christian Wood

Christian Wood was once a highly touted prospect coming out of high school. He played two college seasons at UNLV before declaring for the NBA draft in 2015. Despite being projected to be drafted late in the first round or early second round, he did not hear his name called on draft night. He’s spent some time in the NBA since then, with the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets, but he currently plays for the Delaware 87ers, the Sixers G-League affiliate.

His 22.0 points per game are tied with James Young for top scorer on the team. He’s shooting 53.9 percent from the field, and he’s also displayed a nice outside touch for a big man at 35.2 percent from three-point range. He leads the team in rebounds at 9.6, as well as in blocked shots with 2.0. He’s very mobile and could certainly help a team as a stretch big man who can play defense and crash the glass.

2. Jameel Warney

Jameel Warney has been a candidate for an NBA call-up for quite some time. The former Stony Brook standout had a big summer with Team USA basketball. He was the tournament MVP of the 2017 FIBA Americup and was named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year for 2017. He got as far as training camp/preseason with the Dallas Mavericks in 2016, and he’s currently playing for their G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

With the Legends, he’s fourth on the team in scoring with 19.4 points per game. He’s second on the team in rebounding with 10.4, and he’s tied with Johnathan Motley leading the team in blocked shots with 1.5. He’s shooting 52.5 percent from the field. What could be hindering his NBA chances is his lack of an outside shot, especially with the way the game is being played today. Nonetheless, he’s still one of the G-League’s top players and he deserves a shot in the big leagues.

3. Melo Trimble

After a solid three years at the University of Maryland, Melo Trimble was one of the best players not selected in this past summer’s draft. He played well for the 76ers’ summer league team in Las Vegas, which in turn earned him an invite to training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He ended up being one of their final cuts at the end of preseason, and he went on to join their G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves.

He’s third on the Wolves in scoring with 18.5 points per game. He’s shooting 44 percent from the field, and a decent 34 percent from beyond the arc. He’s also leading the team in assists per game with 5.7. He’s got the potential to be a decent backup point guard, and if he can get his shooting numbers, especially from three-point range, up a little bit, there’s no question he’s NBA caliber.

4. Joel Bolomboy

Joel Bolomboy is a name that should be familiar to Utah Jazz fans. He was drafted by the Jazz in 2016, and although relegated to mostly end of the bench duty, he showed a bit of potential and flash here and there. The Jazz cut him after a year, and he ended up in Milwaukee before they too cut him to make room for Sean Kilpatrick. He’s currently playing for the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks G-League affiliate.

At the recent G-League Showcase that took place from Jan. 10-13, Bolomboy had one of the best performances of the event. In the two games played, he averaged 25.5 points per game on 73 percent shooting from the field and 13.0 rebounds. He was named to the All-Showcase First Team. He’s had eight double-doubles so far in the G-League this season. He’s already gotten his feet wet in the NBA, and if he continues putting up similar production, it won’t be long before he finds himself back on an NBA roster.

5. Jeremy Evans

Jeremy Evans is a name that should be somewhat familiar to NBA fans. He’s spent six years in the league with the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. He also participated in two dunk contests in 2012 and 2013. Unfortunately for him, dunking was probably the one thing he was known for. It might be why he found himself out of the league after only six years.

With the Erie Bay Hawks, the Atlanta Hawks G-League affiliate, his 15.9 points per game are good enough for fourth on the team. His 62.3 percent shooting from the field is a team-high, as is his 10.3 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks. Not known as a shooter during his time in the NBA, he’s only shooting 25.6 percent from three-point range in the G-League. If he can get his outside shooting percentages up, he has a shot at getting an NBA call-up and keeping that spot permanently.

Although there’s no guarantee that any of these guys get NBA call-ups on ten-day contracts, they have some of the best shots out of anyone in the G-League. Don’t be surprised if, by the end of the season, all of these guys finish it out on an NBA roster.

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NBA Daily: Potential Trade Targets to Get the Sixers to the Playoffs

On the cusp of a playoff appearance for the first time in six years, the Philadelphia 76ers could cement their postseason status with a move at the trade deadline.

Dennis Chambers



At times this season, the Philadelphia 76ers look like they’re capable of going toe-to-toe with some of the league’s best teams. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons at their disposal, along with capable three-point shooters, the Sixers have shown flashes of being a force to be reckoned with.

And at other times, well, they look like a discombobulated young team, with serious flaws in the construction of its roster.

Despite the lapses they display, the Sixers are still right in the thick of the playoff race. Currently, at 21-20, they hold a half-game advantage over the Detroit Pistons for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference.

While they await the return of top overall pick Markelle Fultz, who has still yet to hit the court after being shut down earlier this season with a shoulder injury, the Sixers will continue to miss depth on the wing and a particular skill set that holds them back from winning games they seem to have locked up with double-digit leads. For all the greatness that is Embiid, and all of the promise that is Simmons, when the former isn’t on the court, the latter struggles to shoulder the scoring load due to his inability to shoot jump shots.

Initially, that’s what Fultz was drafted for. A player that head coach Brett Brown has said many times before, has the talent to tie everything together with the Sixers’ roster. What he means by that is Fultz represents a scorer from multiple levels of the court who forces the defense to lock in on, potentially leaving the teams’ shooters open on the wing.

Without Fultz, and when Embiid is on the bench, the team lacks a player who can put the ball on the floor, create and knock down jumpers. Although long-term success is still very much the attention for Philadelphia, that doesn’t discount the fact that a team that finished with 10 wins just two seasons ago is on the verge of making a playoff appearance for the first time since 2011-12 with a core of young, promising players.

Because of that possibility, and because of the clear holes in team’s makeup that could prevent this from happening, the Sixers could become an interesting player at the trade deadline — especially considering the names that appear available, according to reports.

It’s no secret that Sixers’ president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo wants to keep financial flexibility heading into this summer, that’s the main reason players like J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson were signed to one-year deals last offseason. Before the team has to start signing their own players to big extensions, the Sixers are in a unique position where they not only have elite homegrown talent, but the money to complement those players the best they can. Because of that, any deal that would return a player with money on the books past this season seems unlikely.

That being said, it just so happens that two players potentially on the trading block right now fulfill the Sixers’ most crucial need, and also aren’t on the hook for money past this year. Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that Rodney Hood could be moved before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, and that multiple teams are expressing interest in his services.

Along with Hood, Stein also reported that Lou Williams, who’s been the center of many trade talks around the league given his career-year and impending free agent status, was involved in specific discussions that would send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What should intrigue the Sixers about these two players is not only their ability on the court but also their flexibility off of it.

Let’s start with Hood. Before the rise of Donovan Mitchell this season, Hood looked to be in a position to assume the role as the dominant scorer on the Utah Jazz following Gordon Hayward’s departure. At just 25 years old and in the final year of his rookie contract, Hood may not be worth the price tag for Utah this summer considering their find with Mitchell.

Should the Jazz actually move on from Hood, it’s unclear what they would ask for in return at this point. Yes, Hood his an impending free agent, which could diminish his value. But the team trading for him would assume his Bird Rights, therefore giving them a better shot at retaining him this summer should they choose to do so.

The best part about his potential fit in Philadelphia is that he fits the timeline of the rebuild while also addressing a need in the present. Being just 25, Hood fits alongside the core of Embiid, Simmons, Fultz, Dario Saric and Robert Covington as a young player. If the Sixers were to miss out on whoever they were planning to target with their financial flexibility this summer, Hood would still be there to plug in for years with a contract extension.

Shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc this season, and displaying the track record of being able to fill up the score sheet, Hood could become the go-to-scorer for Philadelphia when Embiid isn’t on the court, or late in games when they need to stop an opposing team’s run.

While he appears to at least be on the table as of now, Hood is certainly worth checking in on from the Sixers’ standpoint.

Now, onto Williams. Drafted by Philadelphia all the back in 2005 with the 45th overall pick, Williams is enjoying the best season of his career for the Los Angeles Clippers. At 31, he doesn’t represent the long-term upside that Hood does, but for this season alone, bringing Williams on to this current Sixers’ roster could be that extra jolt to get them cleanly into the postseason.

Averaging 23 points per game and shooting 41 percent from downtown, Williams fits the role as an iso-scorer better than any player on the Sixers’ current roster. Alongside Simmons and Embiid, Williams could assume the role Fultz was supposed to this season.

Another interesting ripple to the potential Williams fit is that he was on the last Sixers’ roster to make the playoffs. Adding him to this roster would bring his career full circle. This summer, Williams is most likely going to test the market and given his age and potential price tag he may not fit so well into the Sixers’ plans moving forward. But with his history with the club and city, getting him on board for another playoff run with an exciting young team could arguably help in the negotiation process this offseason.

Neither of these potential trades are slam dunks, and it remains to be seen if either player will even be moved. But for where the Sixers stand currently, coupled with their growing postseason expectations, checking in around the league on trade targets that can fulfill obvious needs should be at the forefront of Colangelo’s agenda for the next few weeks.

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Payton Blocking Out Trade Talk, Believes Magic Will Turn It Around

Spencer Davies sits down with Elfrid Payton to discuss his fourth year, trade rumors and a trying season for Orlando in a Basketball Insiders exclusive.

Spencer Davies



It’s hard for a team to look for positives when it’s living in the basement.

The Orlando Magic have had a rough go of it this year. They’re 13-32 at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they’ve have had a ton of setbacks, and they currently rank 29th in the NBA in defensive rating.

There is a bright spot hidden in there, though, and head coach Frank Vogel sees it growing as the season progresses.

“We’re frustrated with our record, but we’re encouraged with the development we’ve had with our young players,” Vogel said before Thursday’s game in Cleveland. “Aaron Gordon, Mario [Hezonja], and [Elfrid Payton] have all had strong individual seasons and continue to get better. All those guys are improving individually and at some point, it’s gonna lead to more Ws.”

While Gordon stands out more to some than the others because of his star appeal, Payton is right up there with him as far as making the next step goes.

“Elfrid’s shooting the ball better from the perimeter and at the rim,” Vogel said. “He’s worked on his left hand. He’s worked on his floaters. Shooting 52 percent from the field and that’s pretty darn good for a point guard, and the 39 percent from the three as well.”

Those are your more traditional statistics that don’t address the leap he’s taken in efficiency. Sure, Payton’s scoring the same amount of points per game, but it’s the way he’s been getting that’s been most noticeable.

According to Basketball-Reference and, he’s making nearly 70 percent of his tries between 0-3 feet and ranks third among point guards in restricted field goal percentage (min. four attempts).

But Payton doesn’t like to evaluate himself using numbers, so he doesn’t know how to feel about how he’s played for Orlando this year.

“It’s tough to say because I like to measure my success by winning and we haven’t been doing that,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “So tough to say.”

He’s not kidding. Since starting out the season 8-4, the Magic have taken a hard fall, only winning five games since November 10. In this stretch, there have been three hefty losing streaks—two 9-game slides and most recently a 7-game skid.

“Not to make excuses—we had a lot of injuries,” Payton told Basketball Insiders of what happened. “Haven’t really been playing with the group of guys that we started the season with, so kinda derailed us a little bit.”

As the losses pile up, so does the chatter. Indicated by multiple recent reports, Orlando has made it clear that many players on the roster are available on the trade block. Evan Fournier, Mario Hezonja, and Payton were recently brought up as names who could possibly on the move if the right deal presents itself.

When asked about the rumblings, Vogel claimed he doesn’t have a message for his guys.

“They understand it’s part of the business,” he said. “Just focus on playing the game.”

Like his coach, Payton doesn’t have a reaction to the noise.

“I don’t get caught up into the things like that,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “Today I’m an Orlando Magic. I play for the Orlando Magic and I’m gonna give them 100 percent of me. I’m somebody that likes to finish what I started, so I definitely would like to see this through and try to turn this organization around.”

So who does he see on this team that can help jump-start the process in flipping the script?

“Everybody,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “I like Vuc. I like AG. Evan [Fournier] is somebody who can fill it up. T Ross is somebody who can fill it up when healthy. I think we have a lot of talent on this team. Even the rookies—Wes [Iwundu] plays well for us in stretches. Jon [Isaac] when he was playing he’d do well.

“You could see the potential there. So I think we have a lot of weapons on this team. I’m very confident in the group we have here. I think we have a lot of talent, we just have to do it.”

Saying you’re going to right the ship is one thing. Actually doing it is a whole other challenge. With where the Magic sit in the standings currently, their work is cut out for them. That being said, Payton isn’t giving up.

In fact, he’s still got his eyes on making it to the postseason, and it starts with him.

“Definitely trying to get a run going,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “Make a playoff push. It’s definitely not out of sight right now, especially with the way the East is. We win a few games and we right back in the thick of things.

“Do whatever I can to help us to get more wins, man. I think that’s what it all boils down to. I figure if I’m playing well, that means we’re winning for the most part.”

Defense matters the most, and it’s something Payton and his group know they need to get better at if they have a chance to play past mid-April.

“Just be tied in together a little bit more,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “I think sometimes we have too many breakdowns on the backside. So just being more in-tune with each other.”

One thing is for sure—Orlando is going through this difficult time as a team, but refuses to fold. Payton says Vogel has constantly stayed in their ears with uplifting advice.

“Keep fighting,” Payton told Basketball Insiders of his words. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. No one’s gonna feel sorry for you, so just keep fighting.”

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