You could argue that the Mavericks have only one "true" shooting guard on their 15-man roster: Ricky Ledo.
But I've discussed Ledo entirely too often (like these 2,000 words) so let's talk about the actual rotation: Monta Ellis, Richard Jefferson and a little Devin Harris mixed in. As positional roles morph in today's NBA, neither of these three fit the classic mold but clearly give Carlisle the most flexibility when piecing together his lineups.
In year two of Rick Carlisle coaching Ellis, I think we'll see a more polished player -- maybe one who picks his spots to attack a little better, maybe one who holds off on his long pull-up 3-point attempts a little more often. I don't know if the defense is ever going to change, but Carlisle has been known to dabble in miracles.
Jefferson is no Vince Carter, but he's a great pick-up at the minimum to space the floor and hit 3-pointers within the rhythm of the offense. Devin Harris will probably see a few minutes here and there in a weird Carlisle lineup. They aren't the flashiest backups, but they'll do enough.
Ranking the Conference
1. Houston: Knock knock. "Who's there?" James Harden's defense. *opens door* *no one is there* *it doesn't exist* *roaring laughter* /end scene
Now that we've gotten the defense jokes out of the way and ended my stand-up career all in one blow, let's remember that James Harden is still a first-team All-NBA player and very good at what he does. He plays 38 minutes at shooting guard for the Rockets, and I happen to really like his backup, Troy Daniels. For 10 minutes, he's going to run around the court and nail so many 3-pointers.
2. Golden State: Klay Thompson is a very good two-way player. The player slotted as his backup is Brandon Rush, who had his best season with the Warriors three years ago (63 percent true shooting in 65 games!), but has fallen by the wayside these past two season. But even if he can't reenergize his career, I suspect Shaun Livingston will get a lot of the minutes beside Steph Curry at the two.
3. LA Clippers: A J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford duo is still pretty potent.
4. Dallas: I almost slid the Mavericks up to no. 3 because Monta was a better player than Crawford last season, but Richard Jefferson in 2014 doesn't really compare to Redick in any sort of way ever.
5. Phoenix: I listed Eric Bledsoe as a point guard in my positional rankings because the Suns are just tricky. In their system, really neither is a "point guard" or "shooting guard" as much as just being a "guard." But for the sake of this story, let's say Bledsoe plays 36 minutes at the 2, with Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green and/or Tyler Ennis filling in those minutes behind him. That's a crazy good lineup.
There's still enough questions about Bledsoe to keep Phoenix at fifth -- he was fantastic this season, but only played about half the season. He still hasn't had a 1,000-point season, so we'll see if he can sustain his production and stay healthy over a full season (assuming he finally re-signs, which just needs to happen already).
6. LA Lakers: Obviously, everyone knows they have Nick Young. No one on that team can top his supersized personality, and his comeback story after having a couple injuries last season will probably be the one all the national media publications will focus on. When people ask me why the Lakers have so many nationally televised games, I just tell them it's because of Swaggy P.
I feel like I'm forgetting someone else on that roster but I can't quite remember who. Oh well.
7. Denver: Aaron Afflalo got mentioned in a Kendrick Lamar song, so that's good enough for me. The Compton native has turned himself into a fantastic player, and holy crap will this Denver squad be a good fit for him. Randy Foye ain't horrible behind him, either.
8. Portland: Wes Matthews is probably underappreciated, but I'm not sure how I'm feeling about his backup duo of Will Barton and C.J. McCollum. That's why Denver got the nod over the Blazers.
9. San Antonio: This is probably the Spurs' weakest position, simply for Manu's continued injury issues this summer and a general lack of certainty how he's going to respond at age 37. But Danny Green and Marco Bellinelli will likely combine to shoot 80 percent on 3-pointers against the Mavericks, especially after both had cold spells in that first round series (by the Mavericks' design, but still).
10. New Orleans: The Clippers cycle through small, scoring Eric's pretty quick, huh? We already talked about Bledsoe, but here's Gordon looking for his first fully-healthy season really since his rookie season. I'll believe it when I see it. Same goes for Austin Rivers becoming a quality NBA player.
11. Oklahoma City: Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow are fine. Don't really know what else to say about them. Jeremy Lamb is the real question on that roster -- if he finally gets it together, maybe Oklahoma City can stop faltering a step before the championship.
12. Minnesota: I really love Minnesota's roster up and down. At the two, we've got Kevin Martin as the "we couldn't find a way to get rid of you" veteran starter, with Zach LaVine and maybe some Andrew Wiggins backing him up. So many games will be lost but so many #LeaguePassAlerts will be tweeted out. I'm okay with that combination.
13. Memphis: All I really remember about Courtney Lee is that he missed a potential game-winning alley oop in the Finals against the Lakers that Orlando never recovered from. He's a decent compliment to Tony Allen but these two-guards really aren't great.
14. Sacramento: Jason Terry! Wayne Ellington! They both probably won't play! It'll be the Nik Stauskas, Ben McLemore show in the California capitol. Should be fun on League Pass worthy but I'm not sold on that duo's actual production.
15. Utah: Alec Burks and Ian Clark? Oh. Lemme know how that works out.