There is some irony in the rise of the 3-point shot in the NBA. It has killed the shooting guard, the position whose very name suggests it should benefit from an increased emphasis on perimeter marksmanship.
It’s been said that changes to the game in recent years have weakened the importance of positions, led to the rise of small ball and ruined the game for big men. But there’s still a booming market for big guys out in NBA front offices, and the fact that the sextet of Timofey Mozgov, Bismack Biyombo, Hassan Whiteside, Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and Andre Drummond were just awarded contracts worth more than a half-billion dollars total says a lot about the death of their position.

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No, it’s the shooting guard who is the endangered species, lost — probably irretrievably — to the dustbin of specialization.
When Dominique Wilkins chatted with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during Bryant’s retirement tour last year, Wilkins said he told Bryant, "You’re the last of the Mohicans."
By that, he explained, he meant that Bryant is the last of the 1980s-90s era perimeter players who could work their opponent into the high post and easily knock down a fadeaway jumper. He could rebound his position and operate as a playmaker when need be, and he could attract the focus of the defense and let the offense revolve around him. Because defenders could manhandle point guards on t

he perimeter, the task of creating offense was left to more well-rounded shooting guards.
Versatility is no longer a necessity for the position — defenders can’t hand-check anymore, so the game has become more point-guard heavy. The coinciding rise of the 3-point shot has changed the role of shooting guards. Now, they’re mostly just shooters.

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Former NBA shooting guard Derek Anderson recalled that when he entered the league in 1997, his assignment in his first game was Clyde Drexler. Within his first six NBA games, he also had to guard Reggie Miller, Steve Smith and Michael Jordan.
"Playing shooting guard in those days was brutal," Anderson said. "It is a lot different than what they have now, where you just have to be a shooter most of all. It was, every night, you were going against a star player who could do a lot of things, and I think it forced you to match them."
The once-venerated shooting guard position has been reduced to those who specialize in winning the 3-point line — the 3-and-D two-guard is ideal, one who can make opponents pay for giving too much attention to the point guard and who can keep other shooters from getting open looks on the other end. The roster of top-tier shooting guards in today’s NBA is slim: James Harden, Klay Thompson and a sizable drop-off from there.

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In our position rankings, Khris Middleton of Milwaukee was slated to come in as the third-best shooting guard in the league. Middleton is a solid player in a number of ways, but he tore a hamstring this week and will be out for most of the season. C.J. McCollum is now No. 3. 

Perhaps some of the younger shooting guards can redeem the position in the coming years, guys like Devin Booker, Rodney Hood and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or rookies like Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray and Denzel Valentine.
But the direction of the game has been toward specialization of the position, aided by rule changes and changes in offensive strategy. The shooting guard is dead. Long live the shooting guard.