jimmy nd bBasketballghana.com’s Yaw Adjei-Mintah looks at what the future holds for the NBA after legend and superstar Kobe Bryant retires at the end of the season. In the first of a three part series, he detailed the likely financial state the league would have. In part two, he looks at the future of Bryant’s Shooting Guard position.

In the past years, 20 to be specific, Kobe Bryant has for most of that period been the best Shooting Guard in the world’s best basketbll league. A teenage sensation who joined the bandwagon of high school players jumping straight into the league without moving into college first.

The move was inspired by Kevin Garnett whose bold decision to make himself eligible for the 1995 Draft and subsequent number five first round selection made him the first player to do so in 20 years. Bryant was selected as the 13th pick a year later by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Fast forward -again- 20 years and Bryant is the third highest scorer in NBA history, a five time champion and an MVP (Most Valuable Player) award winner in 2008.

He recently announced his retirement come season end through a beautifully scripted poem. Ever since Shooting Guard Michael Jordan’s “hand over” of “face of the NBA” title to Bryant, Kobe has carried the sole mantle of outside shooting until recently.

The NBA is rapidly moving from paint oriented offenses to perimeter induced offenses where Power Forwards with the ability to hit three points shots and mid range jumpers are morphing deep minutes into front court rotations around the league. For instance, in 2011-2012 season teams the NBA average for three point attempts was at a .226%, it subsequently moved from .243%, .259%, . 268% in the following years to .276% per SB Nation.com, 23 games into the new season.

Indeed, the NBA has never fallen in love with the three point shot like it does today and with the defending champions Golden State Warriors burying .438% from 715 three-point attempts per basketballreference.com, the trend isn’t stopping anytime for the forseeable future.

Where the league was then

In a period where men of unique physical specimen ruled the league by pouding and ploding away in the painted area beneath the basket,Bryant played his part in sustaining the relevance of the three point shot through his long stay in the league. His contributions were complemented by Reggie Miller and Ray Allen over the years.

Miller is a Hall of Famer who put the Indiana Pacers in the 2000 Finals on the back of his legendary shooting stroke. The Miami Heat would not have scored back to back titles had Ray Allen not made a crucial three in the dying seconds against the San Antonio Spurs plus Chris Bosh’s block. Mitch Richmond put in key performances on the low in a time where the only Shooting Guard fans knew was Jordan; his performances earned him immortality in the game as he was named a Hall of Famer in 2014.

Where the league is at now

A particular trait characterizes every league on the face of the planet. Ghana’s Premier League is stacked with “one season hit and go abroad” in search of greener pastures players, the English Premier League is all about adrenaline so every team has runners and the Brazilian Campeonato is littered with players blessed with talents to play “joga bonito” or beautiful football so the country virtually lacks quality keepers and quality defenders.

In the NBA, a little tweak that yields results will seep through the entire league just like an inundated Kwame Nkrumah Circle on a rainy day in Accra. Witnessing the Warriors stampede their way to a championship in 40 years, almost the entire league is favoring the three point shots more. Today, big men who can shoot from the perimeter or just inside the perimeter are valued more than those who do the prototypical rebound, block shots and score from alley-oops and put backs-looking at you DeAndre Jordan.

Rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis’ stock has risen just as his shooting from deep have. The Latvian has already signed three marketing deals with Body Armor,Shifman Mattress and Delta Air Lines. For the season, he is averaging a steady .349% on three-point makes.

Enough said about frontcourt dwellers, Point Guards are having a field day shooting from every angle as soon as they wiggle out of tight spaces. It is surprising to see the basketball’s “facilitators” duel with forward liners for games’ highest points. Last year’s MVP and current leader in this year’s race, Steph Curry is shooting lights from deep. Before the Warriors game against the Pacers, Curry was 116 for 246 from three-point range; that puts him at a 47.2% conversion rate.

Where Shooting Guards are at now

But basically and traditionally, the players tasked with the prime responsibility of converting such shots into points, are Shooting Guards. Lets face it the positional numeral for a Shooting Guard is the number three so it is only natural that the “3” is the one who shoots the three. It is comforting to know James Harden, a Shooting Guard dragged a banged up Houston Rockets teams to the Western conference Finals last season.
His efforts were rewarded with a runner up position in the race for MVP. It must be noted, the award is voted by select journalists in North America. Had the votes been cast by players like it was done before the 1979-1980 season, Harden would have been declared the winner. The Beard sits atop “3’s” in the league that includes “little Splash Brother” Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler and Bradley Beal.

Currently, the aforementioned rank highly on their respective team sheets. Klay Thompson is the highest paid player on the Warriors roster with $15 million dollars in his kitty for the season. Jimmy Butler is now the face of Chicago as he leads the Bulls in points, steals, minutes played and notable plays. His inspired play last season earned him a slot at All-Star Game, a Most Improved Player of the Year Award and a five year contract worth $95 million dollars.

Bradley Beal’s contract extension has been put on ice till season’s end to enable the Washington Wizards have enough cap space to sign the former Florida star to max contract and add another top tier talent-in Washington’s case, Kevin Durant- during free agency.

Where Shooting Guards stand in the future

In the future, the NBA will still be a Point Guard driven franchise due to a platoon of top Point Guards scouring the league. That cannot be said for the Shooting Guard position which except a few notable names mentioned above, lacks a great crop of players to man the position. The Point Guard position looks secured now with Curry, WestBrook, Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague and veteran Chris Paul still pulling the strings. The future looks good as well with John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard all set to dominate the league for the next half decade.

Now the likes of Danny Green, Iman Shumpert and Tyreke Evans aren’t competent enough to deepen the pool of “3” men and the envisaged picture gets gloomy as young guns Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Alec Burke, Dion Waiters, Zach LaVine and Ben McLemore don’t exactly cook up confidence.

Enjoy Kobe while you can because he is the last of a dying breed.


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