What happened to the shooters?

Updated: June 29, 2005, 2:16 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
johnboy ... bynum

Quick. Name the last great shooting guard to come out of the NBA draft.

Don't pause to flip through your draft guide.

Just give me his name.

Is it LeBron James or Dwyane Wade? Technically neither player is a two, though they're certainly able to play that position. Before that? The 2002 draft was a total wash. Jason Richardson and Joe Johnson (2001)? Desmond Mason and Michael Redd (2000)? Richard Hamilton (1999)? Ron Artest (1999)?

Good? Sure. Great? Hamilton may be on his way after an brilliant playoff run this year. No one else, not even Artest, is there just yet.

Rewind back to 1998 and we can start talking. Vince Carter went fifth that year, though his greatness may forever be limited to Nike and Gatorade commercials. Paul Pierce is the truth, but nine teams didn't believe that on draft night.

Rewind back one more year and you'll find Tracy McGrady on the board at No. 9. Two more years to 1996 and I can give you Allen Iverson (1st overall), Ray Allen (5th ) and Kobe Bryant (13th).

Go back any further and Alzheimer's sets in.

I give this illustration only to point out an obvious disconnect from the lores of scouting wisdom and reality. To quote more than one NBA scout, good shooting guards are a dime a dozen.

Unlike the rare centers and point guards who only appear in leap years when there's a full moon, shooting guards are everywhere. They grow on trees. Take a shot on the big kid who can't tie his shoes. Grab your two guard of the future off any NBDL roster.

It just isn't true. These days, superstar two guards appear to be just as rare. That's partly because the college ranks aren't being bolstered by high school and international prospects at this position. Most 18-year-olds drafted in the NBA still tend to be 6-10 or taller.

This year, there are eight or nine two guards capable of being drafted in the first round. For the first time in a while, several of them have a chance to be stars The top spot on the board goes to a kid from Arizona (Andre Iguodala) who's averaging just 12.7 ppg. Luke Jackson looks like another Mike Miller. The next kid on the list is still trying to find a way to defect from Moscow. The best prospect on the list may be an 18-year-old McGrady clone playing at a prep school in Connecticut who few people have ever heard of.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider

ALSO SEE