DeMar DeRozan Dunks on Timofey Mozgov

Last week, I ranked the point guards, so this week we look at their backcourt partner, the shooting guards.

I first want to give a big shout out to William Lou, writer of the great blog Both Teams Played Hard, for helping me collect some of the stats and saving me a ton of time I didn’t have.

One of the big differences I noticed right away between the shooting guards and the point guards is that there were a lot more good shooting guards coming off the bench, as opposed to point guards. You almost never see a starting calibre point guard coming off the bench because it usually ends up in some sort of controversy (just ask any Raptor fan over the last seven years).

On the other hand, starting calibre shooting guards routinely come off the bench, often times playing behind inferior players.  James Harden went from Oklahoma’s 6th man to the All NBA 3rd team. Manu Ginobili only started more games than he came off the bench for in three of his eleven seasons.

Often times this is due to a strategic coaching decision, but other times it’s because a player may have a major weaknesses (like lack of defense) that can be minimized playing against second unit players.

So for that reason, I found it a little more difficult to cut down my list of shooting guards to a manageable size. Instead of 25, I settled on 30, which does make more sense on the surface, but not every single team is represented. With Denver losing Andre Iguodala, they don’t have a starting calibre shooting guard, so I left them out. Same goes for Phoenix and Detroit. Boston isn’t represented, either.

Of course, there will be players that I left out for various reasons.

Iguodala didn’t make it because I consider him a small forward, and that’s more where he will play this year on Golden State, so he’ll be on next week’s list. Jared Dudley is also a guy who played shooting guard last season, but will go back to small forward this season.

I probably could have included Jimmy Butler, as he might very well start at the shooting guard position for the Bulls, next season, but he’s really a small forward, which is what he was listed as last season.

There are probably others, but since it’s me taking the time to do this, I used my own discretion.

Like the point guard column, I looked at lots of difference advanced stats and tried to rate the players based on a variety of stats, rather just one or two, as well as just my own opinion.

While I used some previous year’s stats for players like Steve Nash and Derrick Rose, because of injuries, I only used 2013 stats for the shooting guards. Eric Gordon struggled with injuries, but considering how many year’s he’s been injured, you have to assume that might be the norm, for him.

Arron Afflalo had an off year, so some might be tempted to look at the previous season for him, but who’s to say that he simply regressed as a player and won’t go back to his previous production? That’s the danger of assuming a player who is having an off year will recover, because often times they don’t.

So here we go…

Player
PER
Rank
WS
Rank
WS48
Rank
WP
Rank
WP48
Rank
Dwyane Wade
24.25
1
13.9
1
0.287
1
11.1
2
0.223
2
Kobe Bryant
23.25
2
9.3
7
0.206
3
9.6
4
0.152
9
James Harden
22.85
3
6.0
11
0.211
2
13.5
1
0.217
3
Manu Ginobili
19.07
4
11.6
2
0.195
4
4.7
15
0.163
8
Tyreke Evans
18.10
5
4.4
24
0.105
20
7.0
7
0.167
6
Vince Carter
18.01
6
4.9
20
0.121
15
5.6
12
0.130
12
J.R. Smith
17.44
7
11.2
3
0.180
6
5.6
13
0.101
15
Jamal Crawford
16.86
8
5.6
16
0.125
14
2.8
25
0.065
22
Gerald Henderson
16.85
9
10.9
4
0.184
5
3.3
21
0.074
21
Gordon Hayward
16.64
10
9.9
5
0.172
8
4.7
16
0.108
14
Marcus Thornton
16.31
11
5.9
12
0.144
10
3.2
23
0.089
18
Monta Ellis
16.20
12
4.6
22
0.071
27
4.0
18
0.062
24
Kevin Martin
16.00
13
7.4
8
0.141
11
5.9
10
0.132
11
Lou Williams
15.47
14
9.7
6
0.177
7
1.3
27
0.057
25
Eric Gordon
15.47
15
7.4
8
0.165
9
-1.0
30
-0.040
30
Ray Allen
14.78
16
5.4
19
0.126
13
6.1
9
0.143
10
J.J. Redick
14.70
17
4.5
23
0.091
22
4.3
17
0.087
20
DeMar DeRozan
14.65
18
5.6
16
0.133
12
3.4
20
0.054
26
Danny Green
14.18
19
3.3
28
0.055
30
8.7
5
0.189
4
Wesley Matthews
14.10
20
5.8
13
0.088
23
5.4
14
0.109
13
Joe Johnson
14.06
21
3.0
29
0.085
25
3.5
19
0.064
23
O.J. Mayo
13.95
22
3.7
27
0.115
16
5.7
11
0.094
17
Bradley Beal
13.70
23
6.1
10
0.111
18
3.2
24
0.088
19
Dion Waiters
13.67
24
4.8
21
0.080
26
-0.8
29
-0.021
29
Tony Allen
13.24
25
5.7
15
0.106
19
6.1
8
0.169
5
Arron Afflalo
13.00
26
3.8
26
0.067
29
-0.5
28
-0.009
28
Thabo Sefolosha
12.93
27
4.2
25
0.087
24
10.7
3
0.230
1
Klay Thompson
12.63
28
5.8
13
0.096
21
2.4
26
0.039
27
Jason Richardson
12.56
29
1.4
30
0.070
28
3.2
22
0.095
16
Lance Stephenson
11.91
30
5.5
18
0.115
16
7.9
6
0.165
7

One interesting thing that immediately jumped out at me was the difference in production between the point guards, who I ranked last week, and the shooting guards. with the PER system, 15 is considered average. For the point guards, every single one I ranked had a PER above average. For the shooting guards, only fifteen would be considered above average according to John Hollinger’s system.

Of course, one big reason for the discrepancy is the role shooting guards tend to play on their, as opposed to point guards. Most shooting guards are there to shoot and play defense, and not much else. Most of the shooting guards with high PERs have a more dominant role on the team’s offense. When they are on the floor, the ball tends to be in their hands as they are almost the point guards, initiating the offense.

The above chart also highlights the discrepancies between the different systems. Tyreke Evans looks good with PER and WP, but has poor WS numbers. Jamal Crawford also has good PER and WS numbers, not that doesn’t carry over the WP.

If we are to rely heavily on WP, then Thabo Sefolosha would be considered a top five shooting guard, which obviously isn’t true. The same is true for Danny Green. If they’re your best player, or even second best player, you’re not a playoff team. Both of them are excellent role players who fit the system they are in and do exactly what they need to do.

When looking at any of these numbers, DeMar DeRozan ends up looking middle of the pack, at best. Interestingly, Gerald Henderson, who was taken just a few spots below DeRozan, in the 2009 draft, and probably would have been the Raptor’s pick had DeRozan not been available, comes out looking a little better than DeRozan in all the categories. Henderson recently signed a 3 year, $18 million contract to stay with Charlotte, whereas Bryan Colangelo gave DeRozan a 4 year, $38 million contract extension at the start of last season.

In today’s NBA, shooting guards really need to be able to do two things well. Score efficiently, preferably from behind the three point line, and defend. The term “3 and D” is popular when referring to the skills shooting guards need today.

Player
TS%
Rank
3PT%
Rank
DRR
Rank
Stl Rate
Rank
Blk Rate
Rank
DRating
Rank
DWS
Rank
Thabo Sefolosha
61.8
1
41.9
3
12.3
10
2.4
5
1.5
5
103
4
3.1
6
Kevin Martin
60.8
2
42.6
2
7.3
26
1.7
20
0.3
28
107
12
2
12
Ray Allen
59.9
3
41.9
3
10.1
17
1.7
20
0.6
20
107
12
1.9
15
Danny Green
59.9
3
42.9
1
10.3
15
2.1
9
1.8
2
102
3
3.2
5
James Harden
59.8
5
36.8
14
11.8
11
2.4
5
1
11
106
9
3
7
Wesley Matthews
57.8
6
39.8
9
7.7
24
2
11
0.6
18
111
21
1
22
Vince Carter
57.4
7
40.6
7
14.5
2
1.8
17
1.6
3
106
9
2
12
Dwyane Wade
57.2
8
25.8
29
12.6
8
2.8
3
1.9
1
103
4
3.5
3
Kobe Bryant
57.1
10
32.4
23
13.1
7
1.8
17
0.6
18
107
12
2.6
9
J.J. Redick
57.1
10
36.6
16
7.1
28
1
28
0.2
29
113
27
0.2
29
Gordon Hayward
56.3
11
41.5
5
9.8
19
1.5
24
1.4
5
113
27
1.2
19
Manu Ginobili
56.0
12
35.3
18
13.4
5
2.9
2
0.7
15
107
12
2.4
11
Tyreke Evans
55.8
13
33.8
20
13.5
4
2.3
7
1.0
12
111
21
0.8
24
Jamal Crawford
55.8
13
37.6
11
5.6
30
1.9
14
0.5
23
108
18
1.7
17
Lou Williams
55.5
16
36.7
15
7.2
27
2
11
0.7
15
107
12
1
22
O.J. Mayo
55.5
16
40.7
6
9.6
21
1.6
23
0.6
20
109
19
1.8
16
Marcus Thornton
55.3
17
37.3
13
9
22
1.8
17
0.2
29
114
30
0.1
30
Gerald Henderson
53.9
18
33.0
21
10.8
13
1.7
20
1.3
7
113
27
0.3
27
Klay Thompson
53.2
19
40.1
8
10.1
17
1.5
24
1.2
9
107
12
2.6
9
Lance Stephenson
53.1
20
33.0
21
12.5
9
1.9
14
0.5
23
101
2
3.6
2
Arron Afflalo
52.7
21
30.0
26
10.3
15
0.9
30
0.4
26
112
25
0.5
26
DeMar DeRozan
52.2
22
28.3
28
10.9
12
1.3
27
0.6
20
110
20
1.6
18
J.R. Smith
52.0
23
35.6
17
16.1
1
2
11
0.8
14
106
9
2.7
8
Eric Gordon
52.0
23
32.4
23
6.4
29
1.9
14
0.5
23
112
25
0.3
27
Joe Johnson
51.9
25
37.5
12
7.4
25
1
28
0.4
26
111
21
1.2
19
Bradley Beal
51.5
26
38.6
10
10.8
13
1.5
24
1.3
7
105
6
2
12
Jason Richardson
49.5
27
34.1
19
13.4
5
2.3
7
1.2
9
105
6
1.1
21
Monta Ellis
49.3
28
28.7
27
9.8
19
2.8
3
0.9
13
105
6
3.3
4
Dion Waiters
49.2
29
31.0
25
8.7
23
2.1
9
0.7
15
111
21
0.6
25
Tony Allen
48.9
30
12.5
30
13.8
3
3.1
1
1.7
3
98
1
4.1
1

Scoring efficiency and 3 point shooting are obviously pretty straight forward to measure.

On that note, one of the stats they should completely throw out is field goal percentage, because it tells you very little about how efficient a player scores. James Harden had a field goal percentage of 43% last year, which is low, but because he scored so many from beyond the arc and got to the line so often, he was one of the more efficient scorers in the league.

One thing I can’t believe I never noticed before. Monta Ellis shot below 30% from the three point line and was only slightly better than DeRozan.

I have never been a fan of Dion Waiters, and looking at his shooting numbers only strengthens that opinion.

On the other hand, Bradley Beal fairs poorly, shooting-wise, but a lot of that was because he shot so horribly at the beginning of the season. He completely turned things around after the All Star break, but an injury prevented him from playing more. Personally, I think we’ll see a much better shooting Beal next season.

On the other hand, defense is almost impossible to measure. To me, steals and blocks mean almost nothing, in terms of measuring a player’s defense. Players can gamble and get lots of steals, but their gambling is hurts the defense and often leads to baskets. Joe Dumars was one of the best perimeter defenders, yet his career steal rate of 1.3 would have put him near the bottom on this list, as would his block rate of 0.2. The reason for this, of course, is that Dumars played solid, straight up defense and prevented his man from scoring, but rarely gambled for steals.

I did include the numbers, however, for interests sake.

Lastly, there is the Defensive Rating and Defensive Win Share. These numbers can actually be fairly useful when comparing players on the same team, but the problem when comparing these numbers for players on different teams is that too many factors can effect the numbers. A player’s teammates, their level of opponent, the defensive system, the style the team plays all factor in. If you look at the numbers with others, though, they can give you a feel of where they fall defensively.

Player
PPP
Rank
Iso
Rank
P&R BH
Rank
Post up
Rank
Spot up
Rank
Monta Ellis
0.77
1
0.81
14
0.58
2
0.82
13
0.84
2
Tony Allen
0.78
2
0.75
10
0.61
4
0.85
15
0.93
10
Lou Williams
0.78
2
1.12
29
0.61
4
0.96
23
0.9
5
Klay Thompson
0.81
4
0.79
12
0.7
8
0.95
22
0.87
3
Jamal Crawford
0.82
5
1.01
27
0.5
1
0.22
1
0.97
15
Wesley Matthews
0.82
5
0.69
4
0.79
23
0.61
3
0.87
3
Vince Carter
0.84
7
0.67
2
0.78
21
0.55
2
0.92
7
Lance Stephenson
0.85
8
0.85
16
0.8
24
0.94
21
0.79
1
Dwyane Wade
0.85
8
0.85
16
0.6
3
0.88
17
0.97
15
Kobe Bryant
0.85
8
0.71
6
0.75
14
0.96
23
0.97
15
Kevin Martin
0.85
8
0.77
11
0.76
16
0.61
3
0.96
13
Manu Ginobili
0.86
12
0.91
23
0.76
16
0.73
9
0.92
7
Ray Allen
0.86
12
0.88
21
0.65
6
0.81
12
1.0
19
Danny Green
0.87
14
0.81
14
0.7
8
0.71
8
1.06
22
Joe Johnson
0.87
14
0.92
24
0.73
13
0.65
5
0.92
7
Gordon Hayward
0.87
14
0.67
2
0.76
16
0.89
18
1.06
22
Bradley Beal
0.88
17
0.73
8
0.72
12
0.82
13
0.99
18
DeMar DeRozan
0.88
17
0.8
13
0.7
8
1.02
26
1.05
20
Tyreke Evans
0.89
19
0.86
19
0.78
21
1.0
25
0.95
11
Arron Afflalo
0.89
19
0.74
9
0.75
14
0.93
19
1.08
25
J.J. Redick
0.89
19
0.7
5
0.67
7
0.76
10
1.1
28
J.R. Smith
0.9
22
0.95
25
0.89
27
0.93
19
0.95
11
O.J. Mayo
0.91
23
0.87
20
0.71
11
0.68
6
1.08
25
Eric Gordon
0.91
23
1.03
28
0.76
16
1.05
29
0.96
13
James Harden
0.92
25
0.72
7
0.8
24
0.78
11
1.07
24
Thabo Sefolosha
0.93
26
0.85
16
0.82
26
1.04
27
1.05
20
Marcus Thornton
0.93
26
0.88
21
0.76
16
0.68
6
1.08
25
Gerald Henderson
0.97
28
0.66
1
0.94
28
1.04
27
1.15
29
Jason Richardson
1.02
29
1.23
30
1
30
0.85
15
0.9
5
Dion Waiters
1.06
30
1
26
0.94
28
1.16
30
1.26
30

These are the MySynergySports.com numbers, that measure how each players does, defensively, in each situation. Logically, one would think these would be the best numbers to look at in order to measure a player’s defense, but the name on of the list highlights just how flawed these numbers can be.

By any account, Monta Ellis is a very poor defender, yet he has better than average numbers here. Same goes for Jamal Craford and even Klay Thompson. Like other defensive statistics, there are factors that can effect the numbers here. If a player is consistently put on a poor offensive player, their numbers will look better. Teams that help more, especially on poorer defenders, might help the numbers of some players. Related to that the defensive system will have an effect on how good a player looks, in this category.

I have never taken a good look at these numbers before, and they probably surprised me the most, in regards to how inaccurate they can be, at least when you take into consideration a player’s reputation as well as the “eye-test”.

In the comments section for the point guard rating, it was suggested that I add up all the rankings and average them out, and since I was having great difficulty ranking them, I thought it was a good idea. Here is the average of the rankings:

Player
Rank Avg
Dwyane Wade
7.18
Vince Carter
9.47
James Harden
10.18
Manu Ginobili
10.29
Tony Allen
10.71
Kobe Bryant
11.00
Danny Green
11.18
Kevin Martin
12.12
Ray Allen
13.35
Thabo Sefolosha
13.47
J.R. Smith
13.59
Wesley Matthews
13.65
Gordon Hayward
13.82
Monta Ellis
13.82
Lance Stephenson
14.00
Tyreke Evans
15.18
Jamal Crawford
15.29
Lou Williams
15.29
Bradley Beal
15.29
Klay Thompson
15.41
O.J. Mayo
17.59
Gerald Henderson
18.00
DeMar DeRozan
19.00
Marcus Thornton
19.18
Jason Richardson
19.29
J.J. Redick
19.71
Joe Johnson
19.76
Eric Gordon
21.47
Arron Afflalo
23.06
Dion Waiters
24.71

Now, obviously all the ranking are weighted evenly for this, so take it with a grain of salt, but it does seem to give a pretty good picture of where players rank.

The biggest surprise for me, not just in the average rankings, but overall, was the value of Vince Carter, even after all these years. He might currently be the most underrated shooting guard in the league. His box score numbers don’t jump out at you, but that’s because he only played 25 mpg coming off the bench for Dallas, last season. But he was incredibly productive in those 25 minutes, and if he played the same minutes as DeRozan, he would be the fourth highest scoring shooting guard )ahead of DeRozan), the top rebounding shooting guard, with the twelfth highest assist average, while having the ninth highest true shooting percentage.

Of course, the fact that Carter might still be a top five shooting guard probably says more about the state of the position that how good the former Half-Man, Half-Amazing currently is. It would definitely explain why the 64-ish year old Manu Ginobili, who moves almost as badly as I do on the court, is still one of the most productive shooting guards in the league.

It does, though, underline what I mentioned earlier, about how most shooting guards are complimentary players with specific roles, which often reduces their individual productivity, but helps their team win.

This actually made ranking the players incredibly difficult. Danny Green plays a specific role on the Spurs, but he does it extremely well. So well, that there’s are very few shooting guards in the league who could do it as well. Green may not be as offensively skilled as a player like DeRozan, but Green also has fewer major flaws in his game. Green is a positive on both ends of the floor, and can be plugged into just about any team and help them win. DeRozan’s poor defense and inability to hit from beyond the three point line make him difficult to fit into a team in a positive way.

And while I realize that players like Ginobili and Ray Allen can’t play as many minutes, anymore, as many of the younger players, I didn’t let that affect their rating.

Rank
Player
1 Dwyane Wade
2 James Harden
3 Kobe Bryant
4 Manu Ginobili
5 Vince Carter
6 Danny Green
7 Ray Allen
8 J.R. Smith
9 Kevin Martin
10 Wesley Matthews
11 Gordon Hayward
12 Tyreke Evans
13 Thabo Sefolosha
14 Monta Ellis
15 Tony Allen
16 Bradley Beal
17 Klay Thompson
18 Gerald Henderson
19 Jamal Crawford
20 Lance Stephenson
21 Lou Williams
22 DeMar DeRozan
23 O.J. Mayo
24 Marcus Thornton
25 J.J. Redick
26 Joe Johnson
27 Arron Afflalo
28 Eric Gordon
29 Dion Waiters
30 Jason Richardson

Before I looked at all the advanced stats, I really had no idea where I would rank most of the players. I figured DeRozan would end up somewhere in the 10-15 range, but when everything is taken into consideration, I simply couldn’t justify ranking him higher than I finally did. I didn’t give extra points for being “dynamic” since it doesn’t actually have any effect on how good a player actually is. I know his low ranking will frustrate a lot of Raptor fans who see him as a star in the making, but at this point that seems more like wishful thinking than reality.

On the other hand, a player I’m not a fan of is J.R. Smith, but I couldn’t justify keeping him out of the top ten because he does seem to be very productive, despite his defensive limitations.

Manu Ginobili didn’t have a very good playoffs at all, but his advanced stats show he’s still one of the most productive players in the league. Now, do the fact that both Smith and Ginobili come off the bench help their numbers? Possibly, Jamal Crawford and Marcus Thornton both came off the bench and didn’t fair nearly as well.

I had a tough time trying to rank Sefolosha, because he is such a specialized player who might only look as good as he does because of the system, but he is still one of the best defensive shooting guards in the league and had the best True Shooting Percentages among shooting guards. And while he’s not as “skilled” as a player like Monta Ellis, who I ranked one spot lower, he’s probably going to help your team win more than Ellis will. And in the end, that is what should matter most.

Bradley Beal might just end up being a top ten shooting guard by the end of the season, but I don’t think you can rank him as such right now.

I’m guessing there will be a lot of people who disagree with these rankings, so let’s here it. Once again, though, be respectful.

On a related note, William Lou, or DDayLewis as he is known in the comments section, and I first encountered one another during a big disagreement we had over my tanking article. The reason I bring this up is that, despite our opposing viewpoints, we were both respectful towards one another. In fact, while we still hold very different views on a several subjects, I was impressed enough with his knowledge that I enlisted his help with some of the data collection for this article.