In the NBA, the wing is king … at least when it comes to the cream of the crop. Though both defy traditional positional assignments, Kevin Durant and LeBron James — the top two players on CBS Sports’ Top 100 NBA player rankings for the 2021-22 season, are technically wings.
It speaks to the position-less nature of modern basketball that the term “wing” now regularly applies even to power forwards, since most can be found floating around the perimeter rather than banging bodies in the post. Because of the emphasis on 3-point shooting and defensive versatility, the 6-7, quick, strong, athletic wing with a consistent shooting stroke has become a premium.
Take a player like Mikal Bridges, for example, who came into the league as a “3-and-D” specialist and has quickly become an essential part of the reigning Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns. A couple of decades ago, a player like Bridges might have been viewed as a fringe piece on a championship contender. Now, however, he could be in line for a max contract.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the modern NBA wing is the wide discrepancy of skills. Some are more ball-handlers and playmakers, like Paul George and Devin Booker. Some, like Robert Covington and Duncan Robinson, fall more into the specialist category. Any way you slice it, however, wings are essential components to any NBA team.
Not every player mentioned above made the cut on this list. That said, here is a look at the top 15 wings in the NBA, as ranked by our panel of CBS Sports NBA experts.