Basketball Player Positions Explained: Shooting Guard

Michael Jordan the standard by which all Shooting Guards are compared (Photo Source: Cliff)
Michael Jordan the standard by which all Shooting Guards are compared (Photo Source: Cliff)

The Shooting Guard position in basketball for many years has been seen as one of the primary scorers on offense. This position also called the Two Guard is often associated with needing to be one of the most varied scorers within a team. Predominately associated with the perimeter the Shooting Guard must possess a depth and breadth of skill only matched by the Small Forward in basketball.


Shooting Guards come in all shapes and sizes and many players over the years have become associated with this position by being dominant scorers from the perimeter, but there are always those that seek to break the mould and add new dimensions to the role. In the modern game of basketball the reduced role of a Center has left a void which is now being filled by players in the Shooting Guard and Small Forward position. Many modern offenses with rapid player movement and terminal phases which often focus around on-ball screens are seeing the influence within the Shooting Guard position increase.


The Shooting Guard must possess a wide variety of skills offensively with this player often being the second option as a full court dribbling target. This is especially true where teams look to deny the Point Guard possession of the ball in a playmaking capacity. All too often, a weak dribbling Shooting Guard is exposed in the full court leading to significant problems for offensive teams unable to progress the ball up the floor in an orderly or controlled manner. With this in mind, it is important to note that the ability of the player to dribble with both left and right hands as a must.


As noted previous the ability for the Shooting Guard to be capable in dribbling in the full court is matched by the demands placed upon the player in the half court through tactical play such as hand-offs, on-ball screens and isolation options.


An effective shot from range will also be a very big positive asset for any player in the Shooting Guard position. By having long, medium and short range offensive options the Shooting Guard will be able to be utilised throughout a team’s offense and very often required to do so to create space and opportunities for teammates as much as creating their own scoring options. Players in the Shooting Guard role are sometimes specialist long-range shooters, while other possess on a functional three-point shooting capacity. Whatever the strength, it is a requirement to possess this ability or face additional pressures from strong help defence in and around the keyway. Watch the training of professional players in the Shooting Guard capacity during the offseason and if they do not possess a serviceable long range game, this is often one of the focus points for development very early on in their playing careers.


Kobe Bryant a future Hall of Fame Shooting Guard showcasing his deadly offensive abilities (Photo Source: Keith Allison)
Kobe Bryant a future Hall of Fame Shooting Guard showcasing his deadly offensive abilities (Photo Source: Keith Allison)

Defensively the Shooting Guard must be able to contain a perimeter offensive player. The standard for containment would be somewhere in the vicinity of two to three dribbles of being able to stay with an effective half court dribbler. This often sees the better players in this role very effective at stealing the ball and taking charges. Both skills while under-rated are highly prized by the best Shooting Guards in this fraternity.


Tactically the role of the Shooting Guard can be varied depending on the requirements of a team’s offenses or system. Some coaches will provide specialised opportunities that enhance a players strengths, but a good player in this position with have a wide enough range of offensive technical skills to score from most positions on the floor with confidence. Definitely understanding the correct use of off-ball and on-ball screens is a must for any Shooting Guard.


Within the team’s defensive system, the Shooting Guard must be able to understand their role in help defence, recovery and scrambling situations. Depending on the opposition and depth of defenders within the Shooting Guard’s own team, this player maybe required to guard one of the opposition’s most effective scorers.


A team without an effective scoring option at the Shooting Guard position must reply on offense generated by either the Point Guard or Small Forward from the perimeter. This often leaves this player in a no win situation as offense is organically in the modern game generated from this player.

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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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