Who are the best shooting guards in Celtics history? Ranking the Top 10
The shooting guard position isn’t all that different than the others when it comes to the Boston Celtics.
They have had a slew of elite-level players to man the position through generations of great basketball, picking up individual awards, honors and of course, championships.
So naturally, whittling down the all-time great shooting guards to just 10 for the most storied franchise in NBA history is a task that’s easier said than done.
Well … here we go!
10. Chris Ford
As much as Chris Ford will always be known for being the first NBA player to make a 3-pointer, his value to the Boston Celtics went far beyond that one made basket.
Ford averaged 10.3 points per game for Boston and played an important reserve role during Boston’s 1981 title run.
The 6-foot-5 guard would later wind up coaching the Celtics (1990-1995), Milwaukee Bucks (1996-1998) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1998-2000) as well as a head coaching stint in the collegiate ranks at Brandeis University (2001-2003).
9. Don Chaney
Having spent 10 of his 12 seasons with the Boston Celtics, Chaney established himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the 1970s. The 6-foot-5 guard wound up on the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team five times (1972-1975; 1977) in addition to playing a vital role in Boston claiming a pair of NBA titles in 1969 and 1974.
Chaney’s second tour of duty in Boston (1977-1980) saw him play an important role in helping the Celtics get back to their winning ways in 1980 (61-21 record) after having had back-to-back losing seasons prior to that.
8. Danny Ainge
While Danny Ainge’s 4.0 assists per game average and franchise top 10 status in steals give a glimpse into his versatility, Ainge’s bread and butter in the NBA was always his ability to make shots.
During his eight seasons with the Celtics, Ainge was a career 38.6 percent shooter from 3-point range while averaging 11.3 points on a team that was loaded with future Hall of Famers — with most at that time in their prime playing days. And his 348 made 3-pointers currently ranks 12th in franchise history.
Ainge would go on to find success both as an NBA head coach in Phoenix as well as a front-office executive in Boston where he’s currently the Celtics' President of Basketball Operations.
7. Charlie Scott
The numbers overall give you a sense of why Charlie Scott was widely considered one of the NBA’s best players during the 1970s (a career 20.7 points, 4.9 assists per game player splitting time between the American Basketball Association and the NBA).
But for Celtics fans, he will always be remembered for how he stepped up in Game 6 of the 1976 NBA Finals against Phoenix in helping Boston close out the series with an 87-80 win.
Jo Jo White was Finals MVP that year, but it was Scott’s game-high 25 points that sealed the deal and, for many, served as a reminder of just how talented the five-time All-Star was.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Scott and the Celtics were facing the Suns, the same team Scott had played for the previous season.
6. Frank Ramsey
While he is known for being the first of a long line of great sixth men in Boston, Ramsey’s greatest contribution was his ability to deliver points seemingly on demand. Playing behind Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman, Ramsey still averaged double-digit scoring in eight of his nine NBA seasons — all with the Celtics.
Though Ramsey was indeed one of the Celtics’ best scorers during the late 1950s and early 1960s, he understood and accepted the fact that he would best impact winning if he came off the bench rather than start.
And while he was a sixth man, Ramsey was usually on the floor at the end of games as he played a prominent role in the Celtics winning seven titles (1957, 1959-1964).
5. Bill Sharman
Sharman, along with point guard Bob Cousy, formed one of the all-time great NBA backcourts. A 6-foot-1 shooting guard, Sharman was one of the first NBA shooting guards who could actually shoot better than 40 percent from the field.
And when you think of the Boston's heated rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers, Sharman has played a big part in that as well. He won four NBA titles as a Celtics player before winning another six with the Lakers (one as their head coach and another five as an executive).
He is also one of just five men — NBC Sports Boston analyst Tommy Heinsohn is among them — to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and as a coach.
4. Ray Allen
His departure from Boston may still rub some the wrong way, but there’s no denying Ray Allen’s impact during his time with the Boston Celtics.
Inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, Allen was arguably the best pure shooter of his era. He arrived in Boston near the tail end of his career but still had enough left in the tank to be a high-impact, All-Star caliber talent who played a vital role in Boston’s last championship in 2008.
Allen played five seasons in Boston and earned three All-Star nods during that time. He would finish his career in Boston with 798 made 3-pointers. The only Celtics to have made more are Antoine Walker (937) and Paul Pierce (1,823) who played eight and 15 seasons, respectively.
3. Dennis Johnson
As tough a guard defensively as the NBA has known, DJ was strong enough and athletic enough to play both guard positions at an elite level.
While his defensive prowess more times than not was what teammates loved and opponents loathed about him, the 6-foot-4 Johnson could score the ball as well. And when it came to getting baskets, DJ was at his best when it mattered the most: the playoffs.
In Boston, he averaged 16.8 points per game in seven postseasons, noticeably better than 12.6 points per game average with the Celtics during the regular season.
And if you look at his time in Seattle and Phoenix, a similar pattern exists there as well — better scoring numbers in the playoffs versus the regular season.
2. Reggie Lewis
Although Lewis died at the still-tender age of 27 years old, he had been in the NBA long enough to where he was destined to be one of the all-time greats — not just for the Celtics but in the annals of NBA history.
At 6-foot-7, Lewis was a two-way terror who had the ability to dominate you as a scorer, and suffocate the life out of players — even Michael Jordan — with his defense.
In six NBA seasons, Lewis averaged 17.6 points per game — he averaged more than 20 in each of his last two seasons — and was a career 48.8 percent shooter from the field.
1. Sam Jones
An absolute no-brainer. Jones’ individual talent alone would have made selecting him a logical choice. But when you throw in the fact that only one man, Bill Russell, has won more NBA titles as a player than Jones’ 10, it says volumes about his impact beyond being an ultra-quick, big-time scorer known as "Mr. Clutch."
What most remember most about Jones isn’t just the points, but the fact that they often came when the pressure to produce was at its highest.
And the Celtics knew when that moment arrived, Jones was ready, willing and more than capable of delivering as he spent his entire 12-year Hall of Fame career playing for the Celtics.