The wing position could be the most important spot in NBA history. This is also referred to as a swingman or guard-forward. Wings play shooting guard and small forward, consistently switching between the two.
Overall, this position is defined by versatility. Whether it be efficient scoring or high-level defense, wings can do it all.
The 2000s produced its fair share of all-time wings. Building the ultimate wing from 2000-10 would create an unstoppable force.
Playmaking: LeBron James
Point guards are usually at the forefront of playmaking. However, some wings are just as good. LeBron James is one of the best playmaking wings. He is an outstanding passer with a career average of 6.2 assists per game.
From 2008-10, LBJ averaged 7.7 assists. At times, James plays like a point guard. He is elite in the pick and roll with a tight handle on the ball. Few wings can operate an offense like James.
Shooting: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was a prolific scorer, averaging 28.4 points from 2000-10. In addition, he won scoring titles in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. Bryant’s career-high scoring average was a stunning 35.4 points in the 2005-06 season while shooting 45% from the floor.
The Black Mamba’s turnaround fader was an iconic move. At times, Bryant would shimmy followed by a fade to the opposite shoulder. When the shimmy came out, he was unguardable. He erupted for 81 points in 2006 and scored 60 points in his final career game. Bryant is fourth on the all-time scoring list, putting him in elite company.
Finishing: Dwyane Wade
While Dwyane Wade didn’t excel as a 3-point shooter, he was difficult to stop within the arc. Wade averaged 27.2 points from 2006-10, along with a scoring title in 2009. The future Hall of Famer had a knack for getting to the rim with his speed and strength.
During his scoring title season, Wade shot 65.2% within five feet of the rim. From 2006-10, the former Marquette star shot over 64% within five feet every season. Wade is an all-time slasher, which covered his lack of 3-point shooting. Wade’s spin became an unguardable move, leaving defenders in the dust.
Defense: Bruce Bowen
Up to this point, the ultimate wing has borrowed skills from Hall of Famers. When it comes to perimeter defense, Bruce Bowen was the king. While he had no All-Star appearances, Bowen was a defensive stud.
From 2001-08, he made eight consecutive All-Defensive squads. In addition, Bowen appeared on every first team from 2004-08. Defensive stars have a way of getting under opponents’ skin, aggravating them to no end. Bowen flourished there and was accused of being one of the NBA’s dirtiest players. In Game 1 of the 2007 NBA Finals, he held James to 4-16 and 0-7 in the first half.
Bowen was the prototypical scrappy defender that had no quit.
Athleticism: Vince Carter
With his 43-inch vertical, Vince Carter is the greatest dunker of all time. He put on a stellar show in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Carter made highly technical dunks look easy with incredible dexterity and power.
However, Vinsanity’s athleticism transcended dunking. He was a star during the early 2000s, averaging over 20 points from 2000-09. Along with incredible leaping ability, the 22-year pro had blazing speed paired with exceptional eye-hand coordination. Carter was a one-man wrecking crew in the open court.