The NBA: December 2013 Position Battle – The Top 5 Shooting Guards Right Now

This is out second Position Battle post of the season, and we will focus on the top five shooting guards at this point in the season. Are there any surprises here? Well, let’s just say there’s no Joe Johnson, no Klay Thompson, no OJ Mayo, no Ray Allen, and no Jamal Crawford. Who else is left? You’ll see.

James Harden is the best SG in the Association. Bar none.
(image by Troy Taormina/USA Today)

Note: All of the following stats were taken on December 8, 2013 (Manila time).

5. Kevin Martin (MIN) – 23.2ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.3apg, 1.1spg, 2.5 triples per game, 93.9 FT%, 18.3 EFF
Martin isn’t top of mind when one talks about the Wolves, but he’s a big reason why Minny is such a dangerous team this season. This is a guy who’s currently having his best season since leaving Sacramento in 2010. Should he continue to score in the 20s and drain more than 2 treys per game, then the Wolves just might have a shot at making the Playoffs.

Kevin Martin has been stepping up for Minny!
(image by Bill Baptist/Getty Images)

4. Monta Ellis (DAL) – 21.6ppg, 5.8apg, 3.5rpg, 1.6spg, 47.1 FG%, 19.4 EFF
Ellis has been known as a volume shooter for most of his career, while also not exactly making the best decisions on the floor. This season, however, his shooting percentage is higher than it’s been since 2008, and the Mavs are reaping the benefits. With Ellis waxing hot, hardly any team is safe against the 2011 world champs.

3. Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 18.5ppg, 5.4apg, 4.7rpg, 2.1spg, 53.1 FG%, 19.8 EFF
This is what the Heat have missed in their last couple of games. Wade might not be scoring as heavily as before, but he rounds out his game with great rebounding, playmaking, and defense. He has also been a very efficient offensive player, making more shots than he misses. He is top 8 overall in steals, top 2 among SGs in assists, and has just become the league’s all-time leader in blocks among players 6’4 or shorter, surpassing Dennis Johnson.

2. Arron Afflalo (ORL) – 22.4ppg, 4.4rpg, 4.2apg, 49.0 FG%, 2.4 triples per game, 46.0 3pt%, 85.7 FT%, 20.8 EFF
Yes, Arron Afflalo, a guy who makes significantly less money than the overpriced Joe Johnson, is currently the league’s second best shooting guard. Yes, the Magic have practically no chance of making the Playoffs (riggin’ and tankin’ galore in the East), but at least Afflalo is adding to his stock – almost all his stats are career-bests. He doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent till the summer of ’16, but if he continues producing these numbers, then there shouldn’t be any shortage of takers by then.

1. James Harden (HOU) – 24.4ppg, 5.4apg, 4.6rpg, 1.5spg, 45.2 FG%, 1.9 triples per game, 85.6 FT%, 22.3 EFF
The Rockets are currently fifth in the West with a 14-7 slate, and much of that is thanks to Harden, who has been nothing short of awesome this season. I mean, in a league without a Kobe Bryant, who else will be the general pick for best SG? The Beard is second overall in free throws made, which is compounded by the fact he is third overall in free throws attempted. He is the fifth best scorer overall at this point in the season, and is the third best playmaking SG of the lot. In short, he might be a sleeper MVP candidate this season.

Outside looking in:
Wesley Matthews (POR) – 17.1 EFF
Klay Thompson (GSW) – 16.7 EFF
DeMar DeRozan (TOR) – 15.7 EFF

Game Recaps:

Final Score: Charlotte 105, Philadelphia 88
Charlotte, NC ( - Jeff Taylor scored 20 points starting in place of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker contributed 18 points with 10 assists as the Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 105-88, at Times Warner Cable Arena. Gerald Henderson also added 18 points, while Al Jefferson recorded his fourth straight double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Tony Wroten scored a game-high 21 points with nine assists and eight rebounds. Wroten started in place of Michael Carter-Williams who was out with right knee soreness. Evan Turner chipped in with 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting and Hollis Thompson added 12 for the Sixers, who lost their eight consecutive road game.

Final Score: Milwaukee 109, Washington 105 (OT)
Washington, DC ( - Khris Middleton netted a career-high 29 points as the Milwaukee Bucks topped the injury-riddled Washington Wizards in overtime, 109-105, from Verizon Center. After Milwaukee scored the final five points of regulation to force overtime, John Henson and Ersan Ilyasova opened the extra session with buckets for a 106-102 lead. The Wizards were held without a point until Trevor Ariza drew a foul shooting a 3 with 42.8 seconds remaining and hit all of the subsequent free throws for a one-point margin. Brandon Knight came back and swished a deep jumper for the Bucks before forcing John Wall into a crucial turnover. Knight then split a pair at the line with 10.2 seconds to seal Milwaukee's fourth win of the season. Henson was terrific for the Bucks, tallying 19 points and 17 rebounds while Knight and O.J. Mayo deposited 20 and 17 points, respectively. Wall made 12- of-13 from the line en route to 30 points and eight assists for the Wizards, who snapped a two-game winning streak and failed to go over .500 for the first time this season. Ariza had 22 points with 12 boards for Washington, which lost Martell Webster (ankle) and Nene (foot) to injuries during the game. The Wizards were already shorthanded, having played the last six games without leading scorer Bradley Beal.

Final Score: Atlanta 108, Cleveland 89
Atlanta, GA ( - Al Horford poured in 22 points to go with nine rebounds to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 108-89 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. Paul Millsap added 16 points and 14 rebounds while Jeff Teague and Lou Williams finished with 13 points apiece for the Hawks, winners in two straight. Dion Waiters scored a season-high 30 points and Andrew Bynum added 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, losers in six of their last eight. Cleveland star point guard Kyrie Irving was held scoreless after going 0-for-9 from the field and 0-for-3 from the foul line. It was the first time Irving has been held without a point in his career.

Final Score: Boston 106, Denver 98
Boston, MA ( - Jordan Crawford had 22 points and eight assists as the Boston Celtics topped the Denver Nuggets 106-98 on Friday night. Avery Bradley and Kris Humphries netted 18 points apiece for Boston, which has won five of its last seven games. Denver trailed by as many as 27 in the first half and faced a 64-44 deficit at the break, but Ty Lawson nailed a 3-pointer and converted a runner on back-to-back Nuggets possessions to cap a 16-4 run and claw the visitors within 66-60. Randy Foye sunk a pair of free throws to whittle the gap to 74-71 with 4:12 left in the frame, but the Nuggets never got any closer. Humphries netted the first six Boston points during a 9-2 sprint, which Bradley concluded with a triple to increase the margin to 83-73. Boston headed into the final period with an 87-77 advantage and led comfortably throughout the fourth. Lawson had 20 points before exiting with a strained left hamstring for the Nuggets, who have dropped two straight on the heels of a seven-game winning streak.

Final Score: New York 121, Orlando 83
New York, NY ( - Carmelo Anthony had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds as the New York Knicks routed the Orlando Magic, 121-83, from Madison Square Garden. The Knicks, who held a 62-29 scoring advantage in the second half, secured their second blowout win in as many nights. On Thursday, they won at Brooklyn, 113-83, to snap a nine-game skid. Andrea Bargnani and J.R. Smith each chipped in 17 points, while Tim Hardaway Jr. and Raymond Felton added 15 and 14, respectively. Arron Afflalo scored 20 points and rookie Victor Oladipo finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for Orlando, which has lost its last four.

Final Score: Houston 105, Golden State 83
Houston, TX ( - Dwight Howard totaled 22 points and 18 rebounds in the Houston Rockets 105-83 rout of the Golden State Warriors from Toyota Center. The Rockets jumped out to a comfortable 31-12 lead after the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way. The 12 points Golden State put up in the first on 4-of-20 shooting was the lowest output against Houston in any period this season. James Harden led Houston with 34 points as the Rockets broke out of a two-game slide. Harden surpassed the 30-point mark for the third time in four games. Terrence Jones added 16 points, 10 boards and three blocked shots in the victory. Stephen Curry paced Golden State with 22 points. Harrison Barnes had 14 and Kent Bazemore took advantage of a season-high 17 minutes with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 109, New Orleans 95
New Orleans, LA ( - Kevin Durant had 29 points and eight rebounds as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 109-95 on Friday night. Russell Westbrook added 25 points, four assists and four steals, while Serge Ibaka finished with 17 points and 13 boards for Oklahoma City, which has won nine of its last 10 games. Jrue Holiday filled the stat sheet with 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Pelicans, who have dropped back-to-back tilts. Ryan Anderson netted 18 points in defeat.

Final Score: Phoenix 106, Toronto 97
Phoenix, AZ ( - Markieff Morrris hit his first 11 shot attempts and finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns beat the Toronto Raptors 106-97 on Friday night. Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points with six assists, while P.J. Tucker had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Phoenix, which snapped a four-game losing streak against Toronto. Amir Johnson paced Toronto with 22 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 21 points and seven assists. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan scored 17 and 13, respectively, on a combined 11-of-30 shooting.

Final Score: Portland 130, Utah 98
Portland, OR ( - The Trail Blazers put on a 3-point shooting clinic at the expense of the Jazz Friday at the Moda Center. Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum combined to go 12-of-15 from beyond the arc and helped Portland to a 130-98 blowout of Utah. The Blazers set a franchise- record with 17 3-pointers made, going 17-of-23, and won for the fourth straight time. Matthews scored 24, Lillard had 21 and LaMarcus Aldridge posted 20 points and 15 rebounds in Portland's 15th victory in 16 contests. Alec Burks had 16 points off the bench for Utah, which committed 17 turnovers that led to 28 Portland points.

Final Score: LA Lakers 106, Sacramento 100
Sacramento, CA ( - Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks both dropped in 19 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-100 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Nick Young scored 14 and Steve Blake finished with 13 points and 10 assists for the Lakers, winners in six of their last eight. In addition to the win, Los Angeles also learned that star guard Kobe Bryant will make his season debut on Sunday against Toronto. Bryant suffered a torn Achilles in his left leg on April 12, and has been out of action since. DeMarcus Cousins scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and Ben McLemore also scored 20 for the Kings, losers in six straight.

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