GOING DEEPER INTO “LEVELS”: THE WING

The wing position is almost considered a hybrid now between the traditional position of shooting guard and small forward. Although to me they have very distinct roles, I understand how they are considered interchangeable. Originally the “2” or off-guard (basically meaning “the other guard”) was supposed to be the marksman of the team. He was usually the best shooter on the team and had the ability to knock down jumpers with consistency all over the court. Physically, a player that plays the 2 spot was usually a really good shooter/scorer. For example, guys like Kobe, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady & of course the GOAT, MJ, all played the shooting guard… Millennial’s, stay with me, this was a little bit before your time.

Before this new era, the small forward was the most versatile of the 5 basketball positions. The “3” position’s job was to score, rebound, pass, and defend multiple positions at a high level. They were typically taller and stronger than shooting guards, but smaller than power forwards. Ala Scottie Pippen, Grant Hill, & Paul Pierce. Now colleges coaches recruit the wing position hoping they can find a shooting guard & small forward rolled into one position.

Many times, they would like wings who are extremely versatile, where they can “slide down” defensively and guard smaller players or even “slide up” in certain stretches of the game to guard bigger players. In defensive schemes depending on how versatile your wings are, coaches like to “switch everything”. Meaning any screen or interchange that occurs offensively, they can switch positions defensively to guard and not lose a beat. Currently in the League, there’s guys like Klay Thompson, KD, Devin Booker, Jason Tatum, & Kyle Kuzma who are considered wings. Then, Kawhi Leonard is the best “2 way” wing in the NBA, meaning he’s considered elite offensively AND defensively. There aren’t many guys who can play both ways like this. He’s a coach’s dream. Here’s what some college coaches look for when they recruit wings.

 

Wing

  1. Scoring/Shooting: Has to be able to score and shoot at a certain level. Can he create for himself? Does he handle it well enough to initiate offense if he had to? When the shot clock is winding down, can he make a play? Is he a guy we can run ISO plays for? Has to be able to either consistently hit 3’s or be able to attack off the dribble and draw fouls, get in the lane and finish. If he’s more of a shooter, does he move without the ball to get himself open?
  2. Feel & IQ: Does he understand that we NEED him to score for us to win. Does he have a short memory, meaning he can’t get too down on the misses and too high on the makes. Is he a good passer? Must have a killer mentality offensively, or if he’s a defensive wing, has to have the mentality of a lock down defender. If he’s a “two-way” wing, does he understand when it’s time lock in defensively and take the challenge of shutting down the other team’s primary offensive threat?
  3. Size: Usually we would like our wings to be 6’4 & taller. Obviously would prefer him to be athletic, having either elite athleticism or height for the position. Physically, can he defend multiple positions? Is he strong or tough enough to guard a “big”? Is he quick enough to stay in front of a guard?
  4. Mentality: We will need him to understand he will have to do a little bit of everything for us to win. Rebound the ball, score it, pass it, shoot it, etc. NEEDS to be mentally strong enough to understand some nights we will need him to play a different role.

 

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