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The NBA’s Most Underrated Shooting Guards

A look at some of the NBA’s most underrated shooting guards, including Arron Afflalo, a reigning NBA champion and more!

Jesse Blancarte



Michael Jordan, through his spectacular play, made shooting guard the most intriguing, and perhaps most important position in the NBA. His gravity-defying dunks, game-winning shots, and ability to score the ball at will captured the attention of sports fans for years. Younger players like Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade have been compared to Jordan throughout their careers, their every accomplishment stacked up next to Jordan’s.

In recent years, the attention given to the shooting guard position has shifted to the small forward position. Players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, the two best players in the league today, impact games on a nightly basis more than anyone else. This is especially true with players like Bryant and Wade entering the final stages of their careers. Even the point guard position has overtaken the shooting guard position in terms of importance. Because of this shift, many of the league’s most effective shooting guards are overlooked and not given the credit they deserve for their contribution to their team’s success. Here, we take a look at some of the shooting guards who make a significant impact for their team’s overall success, but don’t receive the credit or recognition they deserve:

J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers –

J.J. Redick was acquired by the Clippers last offseason to slot in as the starting shooting guard and play the role of Ray Allen in Doc Rivers offense. This includes running off the ball, forcing defenders to chase him off of screens, and knocking down jump-shots. What many people may not realize, is that Redick played the role of Allen just about as well, and even better in some regards, than Allen did in previous years with the Boston Celtics.

While Allen is the superior player overall, Redick has landed with a team whose offensive system is tailor-made to maximize his skill-set. Even when Redick isn’t scoring the ball, or shooting particularly well, his off-the-ball movement creates fluidity within the Clipper’s offense and forces defenses to make tough switches. Redick is even sneakily effective in running pick-and-rolls with bigs, using his underrated ball-handling and passing skills to find easy scoring opportunities for the Clippers big men. In short, without Redick, the Clipper’s offense is one of the best in the league; with him they are elite.

And Redick is no slouch on defense either. At just 6’4, 190 pounds, Redick gives up size to a lot of the guards he faces on a nightly basis. But Redick is a smart team defender, knowing when to switch, and how to funnel his opponents towards DeAndre Jordan for a potential block. Redick will occasionally get burned by bigger shooting guards, but he holds his own on most nights.

Last season, Redick averaged 15.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game, and shot 45.5 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from beyond the arc. Coupled with a 91.5 percent free throw shooting percentage, Redick registered an impressive 59.8 true shooting percentage, which is very good for a shooting guard.

Unfortunately for Redick, he only managed to play in 35 regular season games last season as he suffered through a serious back and elbow injury. However, he returned in time for the playoffs, and contributed 13.3 points per game and 40 percent shooting from beyond-the-arc. If Redick can stay healthy next season, and if the Clippers can push past the second round of the Playoffs, Redick may finally get some of the recognition he already deserves.

Arron Afflalo, Denver Nuggets –

At age 28, Afflalo is one of the best two-way shooting guards in the league. He plays tough perimeter defense, often guarding opposing teams’ best wing-players, while spreading the floor on offense with his three-point shooting. Last season, Afflalo averaged 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, and shot 45.9 percent from the field, and 42.7 percent from three-point range. Much like Nicolas Batum, Afflalo contributes just what his team needs, and is one of the best glue-guys in the NBA.

Afflalo often gets overlooked, especially after playing the last two seasons with the rebuilding Orlando Magic. However, with Orlando, Afflalo was one of the veteran leaders, and takes that experience with him for his second run with the Denver Nuggets.

Earlier this offseason, Afflalo told Basketball Insiders that he hopes the move back to Denver will help make him an All-Star this upcoming season.

“It’s next level for me, hopefully that entails [becoming an] All-Star,” Afflalo said. “I learned firsthand last year that it’s somewhat of a team goal as well. You have to be on a good team and you have to be playing competitive basketball while being a good player a well.”

Afflalo, arguably, should have been selected as an All-Star last season, but was left off in favor of Joe Johnson. Now that Afflalo is back in Denver, alongside talented played like Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Kenneth Faried, he has the chance to get back into the Playoffs and show the league that he is one of the most underrated shooting guards in the NBA.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers –

Wesley Matthews started his NBA career with the Utah Jazz after going undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft. Throughout his career, Matthews has been a very solid shooting guard, but has never been in the discussion as one of the better two-guards in the league.

Each season, Matthews has steadily improved. Last season, Matthews averaged 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 0.9 steals per game, and shot 44.1 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from beyond-the-arc. While everyone acknowledges Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as the best shooting backcourt in the league, the fact is that Matthews, alongside Damian Lillard, were not that far behind the Splash Brothers.

Matthews is also an underrated defender. While he may not be a lock-down defender like Tony Allen, he is a tough competitor and takes each defensive assignment as a personal challenge. And while Matthews stands at just 6’5, he is strong enough to switch onto small forwards and hold his own periodically.

Matthews may not be the flashiest shooting guard in the NBA, but he is rock solid and is a big reason why the Portland Trailblazers were one of the surprise teams of last season.

Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns –

Gerald Green flies under the radar because he has bounced around the league, playing for seven teams in seven seasons in the NBA. Green made a name for himself early in his career by winning the 2007 NBA Dunk Contest, and was the runner-up in the 2008 NBA Dunk Contest. Unfortunately for Green, he could never translate his athletic ability into the actual games, and earned the reputation as being little more than an elite athlete. However, last season in Phoenix, Green thrived in Jeff Hornacek’s uptempo offense, and was one of the main reasons the Suns were the surprise team of the league last year.

Everyone knows that Green is a high-flyer, but many people don’t realize that he made the fourth most three-pointers in the league last year (204), falling behind only Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Damian Lillard. And don’t think he was just a volume shooter either, as Green connected on 40 percent of his shots from beyond-the-arc; a percentage that is higher than other noted three-point shooters like Lillard, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Love.

Last season, Green averaged 15.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.9 steals, and shot 44.5 percent from the field. Green had a career game last season on March 6, scoring a career-high 41 points, and connected on eight three-pointers (another career-high).

Green seems to have found a home in Phoenix and, with Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and presumably Eric Bledsoe, is a part of one of the most dynamic back-courts in the NBA.

Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs –

Danny Green is another shooting guard that is a perfect fit with his team. Over his career, Green has transformed himself into an elite three-point shooter, and effective 3-and-D player. The San Antonio Spurs were the sixth best offensive team during the regular season (108.2 points per 100 possessions) and much of that has to do with Green.

Last season, Green averaged, 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game, while shooting 41.5 percent from beyond-the-arc. While Green’s per game numbers aren’t eye-catching, his contribution to the Spur’s offense and defense isn’t really reflected in the box-score. Basic box-score numbers won’t show the times Green shuts down an opposing wing player, or point guard, or the times he makes the extra pass to a teammate for a wide open shot. Nor will it show the times his off-ball movement forces an opposing defense to rotate, creating opportunities for his teammates to find open shots.

On a team of selfless stars like Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, Green’s contributions at times go unnoticed. But when people wonder how the Spurs are always so good, a big part of the answer lies in the significant contributions from selfless players like Green.

Honorable Mention –

Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies–

Tony Allen for many years has been considered one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, but that is often diminished since he is also known as a poor-to-average offensive player. However, on the Memphis Grizzlies, Allen represents more than any box-score or advanced statistic could ever convey. He is the heart and soul of the Grizzlies’ grit-and-grind defense that is so vital to their success. Allen manages to impact the game, by slowing down players as small and crafty as Chris Paul, and as tall and lethal as Kevin Durant. He even has had the indirect effect of getting players like Zach Randolph to buy into the team defense-first philosophy. And Allen has done this throughout his career while never averaging more than 27 minutes per game in a single season.

Yes, Allen is given recognition for his defensive prowess and is rightfully viewed as a below average offensive player. But it is often overlooked that without Allen, the Grizzlies lose more than just a wing-stopper; they lose a significant part of their collective identity, and that is something that is worth recognizing.

Today’s NBA lacks the superstar shooting guards from years ago. Now, players like James Harden, and Klay Thompson stand at the top, while all the other shooting guards are in a sense jumbled together in the same mid-tier category. Among that jumbled group are guards whose production and contributions go largely unnoticed, or unappreciated. While the golden age of the shooting guard may have passed by with Jordan’s retirement and the twilight years of Kobe and Wade upon us, there is still plenty of talented players that deserve recognition, including the players mentioned above.

Which shooting guards do you think are the most underrated in the NBA? Let us know below! 

Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


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NBA Daily: The Cleveland Cavaliers Need Tyronn Lue

The Cleveland Cavaliers have faced injury adversity and a roster shakeup, and now face uncertainty regarding coach Tyronn Lue’s health.

Buddy Grizzard



The most enduring image of Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue came moments after his team sealed the 2016 NBA Finals with a third consecutive win after trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1. As the team celebrated its historic comeback and readied to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy, one camera focused on Lue, who sat on the bench with his face buried in his hands.

The image tells a thousand words about the pressure Lue was under as Cleveland teetered on the brink of elimination for three games. Rather than sharing the euphoria of his players, it seemed that Lue’s emotions centered around the massive weight that had been lifted from his shoulders. Almost two years later, it appears that burden has caught back up with Lue, whose leave of absence for health reasons complicates things for Cleveland with the playoffs just around the corner.

“It’s like losing one of your best players,” said Cavaliers forward LeBron James after Cleveland’s 124-117 win at home over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

Kevin Love returned from a six-week injury absence to post 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists against the Bucks. James likened Lue’s absence to the burden of trying to replace Love’s output while he was unavailable.

“We’ve got to have guys step up, just like guys trying to step up in Kev’s absence,” said James. “We have to do the same as a collective group as long as Ty needs to get himself back healthy.”

There’s optimism that Lue could return before the playoffs, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty given the seriousness of his symptoms, which reportedly included coughing up blood. Lead assistant Larry Drew, a former head coach with the Bucks and Hawks, will handle head coaching responsibilities until Lue is ready to return.

Kyle Korver played under Drew in Atlanta and said he’s confident in his ability to fill in.

“We’d love to have Ty here and healthy,” said Korver after the Bucks win. “Coach Drew has done this for a long time as well. He coached me for a full year in Atlanta. We know he’s fully capable.”

Korver also doubted Drew would introduce any major stylistic changes.

“I think LD’s been Ty’s top assistant for a reason,” said Korver. “They really think a lot alike. They coach very similarly. We miss Ty, but I think the style of what we do is going to be very similar.”

While style and approach should remain unchanged, what could an extended absence for Lue mean for the Cavaliers? Lue cemented his legacy as a leader by keeping the Cavaliers together as they fought back from a 3-1 deficit to the Warriors, but Drew hasn’t had that kind of success as a head coach.

In 2012, the Hawks had a real opportunity to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in Atlanta history. The Hawks faced an aging Boston Celtics squad in the first round. The eighth-seed Philadelphia 76ers awaited in the second round after defeating the top-seeded Chicago Bulls.

After splitting the first two games in Atlanta, the Hawks faced a pivotal Game 3 in Boston with the opportunity to retake home court advantage. Atlanta Journal-Constitution beat writer Michael Cunningham used Synergy Sports to break down every offensive possession for Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. His conclusion? For three quarters, Rondo did not score a single basket while guarded by Hawks combo guard Kirk Hinrich.

The Hawks traded a package that included a former and a future first-round pick to obtain Hinrich from the Wizards in 2011. But in Game 3, Hinrich failed to score a point despite his effective defense. Apparently feeling the need for an offensive spark, Drew left Hinrich on the bench in the fourth quarter and turned to career journeyman Jannero Pargo.

With Hinrich out of the game, Rondo’s offense came to life as he slashed to the basket at will. Boston opened the fourth with a 13-7 run before Pargo went to the bench and Atlanta closed on a 15-7 run to force overtime. The NBA did not publish net rating data at the time, but we can now see via historical data that the Hawks were outscored by nearly 52 points per 100 possessions in Pargo’s minutes in Game 3. Rather than entrust Atlanta’s season and his own legacy to a player the Hawks traded two first-round picks to obtain, Drew went with Pargo, a career end-of-bench player.

What does this mean for the Cavaliers? It means the team needs to get Lue back. Drew and Lue are both former NBA players who have received mixed reviews as head coaches. But when his legacy was on the line, Lue pushed the right buttons.

For Drew’s part, in his first postgame press conference since Lue’s absence was announced, he remained publicly deferential.

“Coach Lue is the one who makes that decision,” said Drew when asked about lineup combinations. “That’s not my call. We look at a lot of different combinations — whether guys are starting or whether they are coming off the bench — and we assess everything.”

On the critical question of how lineups will be fine-tuned as the Cavaliers prepare for the playoffs, Drew once again emphasized Lue’s active role even as he steps away from the bench.

“I’ll talk to Ty,” said Drew. “He’s got the final say-so. Whatever he wants, then that’s what we’re going to go with. But if he tells me to make a decision, then I’ll have to make the decision.”

With Lue suffering acute symptoms, there’s no way of knowing when he will be ready to step back into the pressure cooker of a leading role for a team with championship aspirations. But the Cavaliers need him and need his steadying influence and instincts. Cleveland is a team that has battled through injuries and a major roster overhaul at the trade deadline. It also faces the pressure of James’ impending free agency decision this summer.

Now, with the playoffs just around the corner, the Cavaliers must endure uncertainty about Lue’s ability to return and lead the team. James has emphasized that Lue’s health overshadows any basketball concerns, but gave his most terse remark when asked about learning that Lue would step away on the same day Cleveland finally got Love back.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” said James. “That was my reaction.”

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A Breakout Season for Joe Harris

Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Harris talks to Basketball Insiders about his second chance with the Nets.

David Yapkowitz



The NBA is all about second chances. Sometimes players need a change of scenery, or a coach who believes in them, or just something different to reach their full potential. They may be cast aside by several teams, but eventually, they often find that right situation that allows them to flourish.

Such was the case for Joe Harris. Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Harris rarely saw the court during his time in Cleveland. He averaged about 6.4 minutes per game over the course of about one and a half seasons with the Cavaliers.

During the 2015-16 season, his second in Cleveland, he underwent season-ending foot surgery. Almost immediately after, the Cavaliers traded him to the Orlando Magic in an attempt to cut payroll due to luxury tax penalties. He would never suit up for the Magic as they cut him as soon as they traded for him.

After using the rest of that season to recover from surgery, he would sign with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2016. He had a very strong first season in Brooklyn, but this season he’s truly broken out.

“I think a lot of it has to do with just the right situation in terms of circumstances. It’s a young team where you don’t really have anybody on the team that’s going out and getting 20 a night,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a collective effort most nights and it can be any given person depending on the situation. It’s one of those things where we’re real unselfish with the ball. A lot of guys get a lot of good looks, so your production is bound to go up just because of the system now that we’re playing.”

Known primarily as a sharpshooter in college at the University of Virginia as well as his first stop in Cleveland, Harris has started developing more of an all-around game. He’s improved his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays as well as crashing the glass and playing strong defense.

In a relatively forgettable season record-wise for the Nets, Harris has been one of their bright spots. He’s putting up 10.1 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field while playing 25.4 minutes per game. He’s up to 40.3 percent from the three-point line and he’s pulling down 3.3 rebounds. All of those numbers are career-highs.

“My role, I think, is very similar to the way I would be anywhere that I was playing. I’m a shooter, I help space the floor for guys to facilitate,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “I’m opportunistic offensively with drives and such. I’m out there to try and space the floor, knock down shots, and then play tough defensively and make sure I’m doing my part in getting defensive rebounds and that sort of stuff.”

Although Harris didn’t play much in Cleveland, he did show glimpses and flashes of the player he has blossomed into in Brooklyn. He saw action in 51 games his rookie year while knocking down 36.9 percent of his three-point attempts.

He also saw action in six playoff games during the Cavaliers’ run to the 2015 Finals. But more importantly, it was the off the court things that Harris kept with him after leaving Cleveland. The valuable guidance passed down to him from the Cavaliers veteran guys. It’s all helped mold him into the indispensable contributor he’s become for the Nets.

“Even though I wasn’t necessarily playing as much, the experience was invaluable just in terms of learning how to be a professional,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “The approach, the preparation, that sort of stuff. That’s why I learned a lot while I was there. All those good players that have had great, great, and long careers and just being able to kind of individually pick their brains and learn from them.”

When Harris came to Brooklyn two years ago, he initially signed a two-year deal with a team option after the first year. When he turned in a promising 2016-17 season, it was a no-brainer for the Nets to pick up his option. Set to make about $1.5 million this season, Harris’ contract is a steal.

However, he’s headed for unrestricted free agency this upcoming summer. Although he dealt with being a free agent before when he first signed with the Nets, it’s a different situation now. He’s likely going to be one of the most coveted wings on the market. While there’s still a bit more of the regular season left, and free agency still several months away, it’s something Harris has already thought about. If all goes well, Brooklyn is a place he can see himself staying long-term.

“Yeah, it’s one of those things that I’ll worry about that sort of decision when the time comes. But I have really enjoyed my time in Brooklyn,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a great organization with a lot of good people, and they try and do stuff the right way. I enjoy being a part of that and trying to kind of rebuild and set a good foundation for where the future of the Brooklyn Nets is.”

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 3/20/18

With most of the major NBA draft prospects eliminated from March Madness, things in the mock draft world are starting to get interesting.

Steve Kyler



A Lot of Mock Movement

With the race to the bottom in full swing in the NBA and the field of 64 in college basketball whittled down to a very sweet sixteen, there has been considerable talk in NBA circles about the impending 2018 NBA Draft class. There seems to be a more consistent view of the top 15 to 20 prospects, but there still seems to be a lack of a firm pecking order. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton seems like to the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall, but its far from a lock.

It’s important to note that these weekly Mock Draft will start to take on more of a “team driven” shape as we get closer to the mid-May NBA Combine in Chicago and more importantly once the draft order gets set. Until then, we’ll continue to drop our views of the draft class each Tuesday, until we reach May when we’ll drop the weekly Consensus Mock drafts, giving you four different views of the draft all the way to the final decisions in late June.

Here is this week’s Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Philadelphia.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick is top-five protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects –

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