Mar 7, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) steals the ball during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
The Shooting Guards. The premiere scoring position in the NBA. Ahh the shooters, the ones who are most likely capable to create magic, to dominate, to change a game, to make the unbelievable become part of a daily routine.
Throughout the history of this league, shooting guard players have blessed fans all over the world showcasing amazing talents, dribbling skills and the general ability they all seem to possess of registering crazy amounts of points on any given night.
Usually the shooting guard should play the role of biggest offensive threat on almost every NBA team. He has to be able to knock down shots when asked for, more often than not he is tasked with the final shot or is he is handling the ball and making the decision of who will shoot if not him.
Think about it. The greatest moments in NBA history most of them a shooting guard is likely involved.
But I guess that’s to be expected when some of the best (and arguably the best) have played here: Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, George Gervin and off course, Michael Jordan. Added up you have 21 scoring championships there. Twenty one!
It’s no different in Houston where we were also able to witness terrific Shooting Guard’s in franchise history. And I’m not only talking about the big, immortal godlike ones, but incredible players nevertheless.
Take your time and reminisce about Steve Francis’ Robin: Cuttino Mobley (who in his time as a rocket averaged 17.2 ppg) or how about Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell and his clutch three-point shots. Bob Sura, Stu Lantz, Von Wafer, even the always interesting Bonzi Wells had a spell with the Houston Rockets.
Great players for a great franchise. But there are three not mentioned above who made a slightly bigger jump, and each one of them in their own particular way helped reshape Houston Rockets’ basketball.
Next: Honorable Mention: 35 Seconds to Eternity
T-Mac’s Last visit to Seattle, April the 4th, 2008.
Honorable Mention: Tracy McGrady
- Career Stats: 19.2 Points, 5.6 Rebounds, 4.4 Assists, 1.2 Steals, 43.5% Field Goal Percentage
- 7 times NBA All-Star
- 2 times All-NBA First Team
- 3 times All-NBA Second Team
- 2 times All-NBA Third Team
- 2 times Scoring Champion
- NBA Most Improved Player – 2001
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Wow, right?! So many accolades, so many achievements, Tracy McGrady should probably have deserved to be ranked higher.
And while we’ll get to the reasons that I only ranked T-Mac as the third best Rocket shooting guard, let me start by telling you that Tracy McGrady is my favorite Rockets player of all time.
As a kid in Brazil very rarely NBA games were broadcasted on TV in the 90’s, so we’ve only had a few opportunities to follow legendary Houston Rockets players like Hakeem Olajuwon or Clyde Drexler for example.
Tracy McGrady however was part of the beginning of the NBA fever in Brazil in the 2000’s, therefore I was fortunate enough to follow T-Mac’s whole career and triumphs in the league.
I saw him while he was referred to in Brazil only as “Vince Carter’s cousin”, his four year stint with the Orlando Magic and his arrival at Houston.
More than that I’ve watched with awe his amazing moments in the All-Star weekend, his “13 in 35” against the Spurs and Rockets exciting 2007-08 run of 22 straight wins (10 of these without Yao Ming).
Tracy was capable of magic. And if only he had the will to lead the thirst to drive his teammates to success, he might’ve become one of the best players of all time.
Or maybe if only his injuries hadn’t sidelined him from so many games in the playoffs.
Nevertheless those are all big “ifs”
Tracy McGrady’s lack of post season success with the Rockets is what makes him the third shooting guard here, and while he wasn’t as successful as the other two above him, to me, I couldn’t care less, as time could never erase his extraordinary talents and remarkable skills.
The man who was once referred by Kobe Bryant as the toughest player to guard must go down in history as one of Rockets best players ever.
His Best Moment With the Rockets – I Don’t have words for that, except it’s truly one of the greatest moments in NBA history. Just watch T-Mac’s 13 points in 35 seconds.
Other than the two comebacks in the playoffs this has to rank in the top moments of all time.
Next: Runner Up: The Beard
Apr 1, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after making a three point basket against the Sacramento Kings in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 115 to 111. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Runner Up: James Harden
- Career Stats: 20.4 Points, 4.5 Rebounds, 4.7 Assists, 1.4 Steals
- 3 times NBA All-Star
- 2 times All-NBA First Team
- 1 time All-NBA Third Team
- NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2012)
- 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist
The Bearded one, James Harden is still only 26 years old, but his list of accomplishments are rather impressive so far. Harden still has a long way to go, but his eagerness, his hunger for success to drive and lead a team to a championship is commendable.
Even if at times James Harden’s decisions on court (and recently off court as well) are questionable, his determination to leave Oklahoma City Thunder and look for a team willing to build a squad around him, that would bank him as a franchise player speaks volumes about his character and desire.
Harden is already ranked so high as a great Rocket due to his 2014-2015 achievements, when most people and peers found him to be the real MVP of that year even though he finished second in the official voting. The last Rocket to achieve such an accolade was no other than Hakeem Olajuwon.
That was also the year that the Beard drove the Houston Rockets to the second seed in a extremely stacked Western Conference and reached the Western Conference Finals in the playoffs. Eventually the Rockets were knocked out by the eventual champions – Golden State Warriors.
If paired with competent teammates and polishing his flawed defense, James Harden is still very capable of bringing a title to H-town in due time. If and when it happens the Beard could still reach higher and unexpected levels of stardom in Clutch City.
His Best Moment With the Rockets – His 50 point effort against the Denver Nuggets is probably more emblematic than his career high 51 against the Kings as Harden couldn’t choose a better or more emblematic night for such an exhibition as the Rockets were celebrating 20 years of their back-to-back championships.
Next: The Undisputed Best Shooting Guard in Rockets History
Feb 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; NBA legend Clyde Drexler speaks while Julius Erving looks on during the 2014 NBA All-Star Game Legends Brunch at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rockets All-Time Best Shooting Guard: Clyde Drexler
- Career Stats: 20.4 Points, 6.1 Rebounds, 5.6 Assists, 2.0 Steals.
- NBA Champion with the Rockets (1995)
- 10 times NBA All-Star
- 1 time All-NBA First Team
- 2 times All-NBA Second Team
- 2 times All-NBA Third Team
- Basketball Hall-of-Famer
- 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist (Part of the Original ‘Dream Team’)
- Number 22 Jersey Retired by the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trail Blazers
That’s tough to beat, right?
And even if you could argue that Clyde “The Glide” Drexler’s best days were in Portland, there’s still the championship argument and that should seal the deal in his favor.
People of Portland say what you will, Drexler is part of Houston’s patrimony. A product of the University of Houston, born and raised in H-town, Drexler is pound for pound one of the greatest ever, but for the people of Houston he is so much more.
Drexler is an institution. People in Houston love him and by his part he also never fails to profess his love for the city and its people as well.
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There’s probably never been a classier more elegant player in NBA’s history than Clyde Drexler in my opinion. His style is so immensely refined it can’t be put into words.
Just imagine what Drexler would be today if there was no Michael Jordan in the 90’s.
Sometimes blurred by Jordan’s blinding glare, Drexler eventually built a name for himself, got his own title and took his rightful place in NBA’s pantheon.
For being part of Clutch City, for his championship, his persona and all his accolades, Clyde Drexler is Houston Rockets All-time best Shooting Guard.
His Best Moment With the Rockets – 25 Points, 9 Rebounds, 11 Assists and 10 Steals against the Sacramento Kings. The Glide almost got a quadruple-double. Side note: he was 34 years old.
Next up we’ll start with the big guys! Stay tuned on Space City Scoop when we’ll count down arguably Houston Rockets thinnest position: the best Small Forwards. Could Trevor Ariza make the cut? What about Chandler Parsons? Make sure to come back and find out!
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