For the fourth year, it is my pleasure to bring you my Five Percenter List, which breaks down the top five players at each position in the NBA. I welcome and encourage all objections to my list, don′t be afraid to tell me how you really feel!
The shooting guard is the lost position in the NBA, similar to the running back position in the NFL. Shooting guards aren′t what they used to be but these five guys are showing that the 2-guard is still needed.
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets - 81 Games, 29 points, 11 dimes, 8 boards, 44%FG
2. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors - 22.3 points, 47% FG, 41% 3PT
3. Demar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors - 74 Games, 27.3 points, 46% FG
4. C.J McCollum, Portland Trailblazers - 80 games, 23 points, 48% FG, 41% 3PT, 91% FT
5. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards - 77 games, 23 points, 48% FG, 40% 3PT
If it wasn't for Russell Westbrook historical season, James Harden would have been the 2016-17 MVP. Harden elevated his game by showing off his point guard skills, leading the league in assist per game while still averaging 29 points a night. He led the league with 63 double-doubles and notched 22 triple-doubles. Harden passing and commitment to Mark D'antoni's system and vision for him, helped turn the Rockets into one of the best three-point shooting teams in the NBA, averaging 40 attempts per game as a unit. Harden will go back to his regular shooting guard role thanks to the addition of Chris Paul, who will be the primary facilitator. As one of the best scorers in the league, Harden has yet to crack the 30-point per game mark or win a scoring title, will this be the season?
Everyone thought Klay Thompson production was going to take a hit because of the arrival of Kevin Durant, but he was able to keep his production at the same level while being the third option. How many teams can say their third option averages 22 points and while shooting 46% from the field and 41% from behind the arc? Some would say his production did take a hit because he wasn't able to reach a new plateau in his career. We didn't really know if Klay got better or worse, all we knew is that he was no longer the second option. For him to still keep his numbers while playing with the last two MVP winners should let everyone know that Klay is still a top player in this league, and give you an idea of how unfair this Warriors unit is.
Demar DeRozan quietly continues to be one of the best players in the league. He set a new career-high for points per game and tied his career-high for field goal percentage. DeRozan is recognized for having possibly the best mid-range in the game. From 10-16 feet, DeRozan is shooting 48% from the field. His sharpshooting from inside the arc is why he was top-five scorer last season despite the poor 3pt shooting percentage. DeRozan, like Dwayne Wade throughout his illustrious career, proves that high-scoring can be done without a three-point shot. It will be interesting to see if DeRozan can crack the 30-point seal, the Raptors will surely need it.
C.J McCollum jumps a spot from a year ago. McCollum is gradually turning himself into one of the best 2-guards in the Association. No one can discriminate how well of a scorer and shooter he is, complimenting Damian Lillard very well. McCollum shot 48% from the field, 42% from behind the arc, and a league-high 91% from the charity stripe. He averaged 20+ points for the second year in a row and is expected to increase his average this season. There is no ceiling for this shooting specialist and we may have to stop looking at him as a sidekick.
Bradley Beal finally had the season everyone wanted to see him have. He played in 77 games, average 23 points a game, shot 48% from the field, and 81% from the free throw line, all career-highs. Beal's career has been plagued by injuries, which has stopped him from having this kind of breakout season. In eight of the 13 playoff games he played in last season, Beal scored at least 25 points, six of which were 30+ performances. This is the Beal Wall has needed for the last three seasons. While the Wizards are still a piece or two away from becoming a true contender, to have a top-five backcourt makes things easier.
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves - One could make a strong argument as to why Wiggins is top-five. If it wasn't for Beal's postseason performance, Wiggins would have been in that 5th slot.
Devin Booker, Phonix Suns - I think we all can agree that Booker will be on this list sooner than later.