Unlike the point-guard position, which is overloaded with promising players to build your fantasy team around, the shooting guard landscape grows rather barren beyond the few top-tier options on the board. That leaves you with two options when constructing your teams this season: Either snag a top six 2-guard within the first few rounds of your draft or eschew the position in favor of loading up elsewhere, then round out your roster with a few flyers in the later rounds.
When surveying available shooting guards, you should be looking for two things in particular: three-pointers and steals. These players won’t typically pour in assists — that’s what your point guards are for — but you can get upwards of two treys and a steal per game from an elite 2-guard. Beyond that, you should target players who won’t hurt you in other areas (particularly field goal percentage and turnovers, for those in nine-category leagues).
Taking injury risk into account, here’s how you should approach the 2-guard position heading into your fantasy drafts.
- James Harden, Houston Rockets
Harden’s place atop this list should come as no surprise. The Houston Rockets superstar finished as fantasy’s second-ranked player in eight-category leagues last season, trailing only Stephen Curry, and there’s no reason to expect much of a downtick this year, despite the arrival of Ty Lawson in the backcourt.
Harden smashed his career highs across the board last year in points (27.4), assists (7.0), rebounds (5.7), treys (2.6) and steals (1.9) despite playing slightly fewer minutes than he did during his first two seasons in Houston. Having Lawson around to alleviate some ball-handling responsibility should only help the Beard boost his shooting efficiency, making him a zero-question top five pick on draft day.
- Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Surprised to see Thompson above Jimmy Butler here? Remember the advice in the intro: Three-pointers are the name of the game when it comes to 2-guards. And when it comes to bombing away from deep, only one player in the game (Curry) can beat the Washington State product in that regard.
Thompson banged home a whopping 239 treys last season, to go with a career-high 21.7 points on 46.3 percent shooting, 3.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. He’s not going to give you the well-rounded stats of a Harden, Butler or Dwyane Wade, but he can singlehandedly win you the three-pointers category, particularly in head-to-head leagues.
- Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
Butler raised some eyebrows over the summer when he told Bulls.com’s Sam Smith that he considered himself a point guard and wanted “some triple-doubles” this upcoming season. New Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg isn’t shying away from that perception, telling reporters that Butler will get to be a “playmaker” in many spots.
The Marquette product isn’t going to pour in triples like the other elite 2-guards — he knocked down just 1.1 threes per game last season, which was a career high for him — but he could regularly flirt with 20-5-5 lines while racking up two steals per game. If (when?) Derrick Rose is forced to miss time due to an injury, he’d only be in line for a greater uptick in production, too. Don’t hesitate to grab him with a mid- to late second-round pick, depending on the size of your league.
- Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Oladipo could be on the precipice of a monster fantasy season, as he’s “finally starting to realize how good [he] can be,” as he told reporters at the end of the 2014-15 campaign. Considering the 23-year-old combo guard averaged 17.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 treys in just his second NBA season, continued improvement would put him among the tier of elite fantasy options.
Oladipo isn’t likely to ever develop into a top-notch three-point shooter, but his versatility and cross-category contributions help make up for that particular weakness. If you’re able to pair him with a sharpshooting point guard like Stephen Curry or a big man with three-point range like Ryan Anderson, his all-around production will be a significant boon to your fantasy squad.
- Nicolas Batum, Charlotte Hornets
Technically, Batum played the 3 in Portland last season, but Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford has already declared he’ll start at the 2 with the Hornets. According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Clifford plans on running a healthy dose of the offense through the Frenchman, as “he’s as instinctual as you can ask of a player, and you can’t coach that.”
Batum has never been a flashy real-life player, but avid fantasy fans know him as a sneaky do-it-all goldmine. A wrist injury hampered him last season, but in the prior two campaigns, he averaged 13.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 treys, 1.1 steals and 0.9 blocks. If he’s able to replicate even 80 percent of that production this year, he’ll go back to delivering top 30 value despite having a mid-seventh-round ADP at the moment.
- Monta Ellis, Indiana Pacers
Few 2-guards can pour in points like Monta, but it remains to be seen how he’ll fit in the pecking order with the Pacers. In theory, he should slide in as the No. 2 option behind Paul George, which, given Indiana’s frontcourt overhaul this offseason, should mean upwards of 20 points per game while shooting somewhere in the mid-40s percentage-wise.
Usage rate will be the big question with Ellis, as he’s capable of racking up a bevy of assists — prior to the 2014-15 campaign, he dished at least five dimes in each of the five previous seasons — if he and George Hill can establish a rapport early on. So long as he keeps coming up with roughly two steals a game, his deficiencies as a three-point shooter (1.0 per game in 2014-15) won’t be a huge hindrance, particularly if he boosts his assist totals back up.
- Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
This may seem absurdly high for a guy who averaged just 11.7 points in 2014-15, but Green actually finished as the 21st-ranked player in eight-category leagues. His value as a three-point shooter goes without saying — he drilled a career-high 2.4 treys per game last season, and has averaged at least 1.9 triples in each of the past three years — but the dirty work he does on defense is what truly separates him.
Green has three straight years with at least one steal per game, and he coupled his 1.2 takeaways last year with a career-high 1.1 blocks, too. When you can get categorical production from unexpected players — namely, guards who block shots regularly or bigs who drill threes — it helps round out your fantasy squad and opens options for you to target specialists in the later rounds.
- Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks
If Kyle Korver weren’t 34 and coming off elbow surgery, he very well may have landed two spots higher on this list. Though the Splash Brothers are more prolific from behind the three-point line, no player has been more accurate over each of the past two seasons than Korver, who shot 47.2 percent in 2013-14 and 49.2 percent last year.
That accuracy translated into a career-high 2.9 treys per game, and there’s no reason to expect much of a downtick now, particularly with the Hawks needing to fill the void of DeMarre Carroll offensively. Korver isn’t likely to replicate his career-high 0.6 blocks per game from last season, but owners can likely expect him to average somewhere around 10-12 points, 2.5 treys and upwards of a steal. The three-point production alone makes him worth a mid-round pick; any defensive stats would only be a welcome bonus.
- Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Having Beal this low could easily blow up in my face if he abandons his questionable affinity for long two-pointers. Earlier this summer, he told SLAM that he planned on continuing to fire away from that range, saying, “Coach Wittman loves those shots” (cue Wizards fans sighing dejectedly), but he recently told Bleacher Report’s Josh Martin that he plans to “do as much as I can to eliminate those long twos and get to the basket, get to the free throw line.”
If that comes to fruition, he’ll be a far more enticing fantasy prospect, as nearly 32.5 percent of his shots over his three-year career have been long twos. Despite that, he still managed to make 1.7 treys per game last season to go with 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.3 blocks. Based on upside alone, Beal is a top six 2-guard, but between his injury risk — he’s yet to play more than 73 games in a season — and his inconsistent production, it’s difficult justifying his placement above proven fantasy assets like Green and Korver.
- Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
If talent were the only factor under consideration here, D-Wade would easily be a top five 2-guard. However, any owner who uses a fourth- or fifth-round pick on a 33-year-old with balky knees is asking for trouble, as Wade has missed 61 of a possible 246 games over the past three seasons, including 20 contests in 2014-15.
When healthy, Wade is a great bet for well-rounded production — he averaged 21.5 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 31.8 minutes per game last season — but he’ll provide very little value when it comes to three-pointers. Given his significant drop-off in takeaways last season — prior to 2014-15, he’d never finished with fewer than 1.4 steals per game — Wade isn’t likely to help your squad in two of the most important categories for 2-guards, limiting his fantasy upside.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers
Players’ positions are based on Basketball-Reference.com‘s play-by-play data, unless otherwise noted. All fantasy-value data from 2014-15 are via FantasyPros.com and are based on eight-category leagues.