What defines a role player in the NBA?
Often times, the term “role player” refers to a player that offers a unique brand of skills that augment the skills of their teammates. Not necessarily the best pickup player, but the one that can help teams win games. You can also think of them as the “glue guys.”
The wing positions in the NBA has evolved to be where most of these glue players end up. Small forward and shooting guard are truly the most versatile positions out there. Small lineups often feature 2 point guard action, and in the case of teams such as Phoenix and Toronto, the 3 point guard scheme has seen the light of day. Then there’s the big wings that can slide down to Power Forward for some small ball.
For many teams, wings that can do all of those things at the same time is required. Wings need to be fast enough to cover point guards, strong enough to at least front a post-up, and springy enough to contest for rebounds. Like the tight end position in the NFL, the lack of stars is a testament to how unique a skill set this truly is.
For this reason, it has been the most covetted position to fill. It is the reason Parsons, Hayward, and even Burks got huge contracts. In season, the implication is that trade prices sky-rocket as contenders realize that their weaknesses are on the wings. The Griz and Thunder have already forked over first rounders to pick up Green and Waiters respectively. With that in mind, here are the 5 most wing-starved teams and who I believe they could potentially pick up.
1. Wilson Chandler – Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers can’t keep sitting on that first round draft pick forever, and with Aldridge out, time is ticking for them to replace the offensive black hole Nic Batum has spiralled into. Wilson Chandler is the ultimate “glue guy” that a contender needs, and yet he is stuck in Denver. Perfect match, in my opinion.
2. Kevin Martin – Chicago Bulls
With the injuries to Dunleavy and McDermott, the Bulls are desperate for spacing at their wing spots. There is no other explanation for starting Tony Snell 5 times already. Kevin Martin’s image may seem to have been tarnished by the Timberwolves, but that only lessens the cost of a very deadly perimeter threat.
3. Jared Dudley/Luol Deng – Clippers
To be honest, I don’t think either of these players are available, but the combination of 3&D would be perfect to replace or augment the struggles of Matt Barnes matching up against more athletic wings
4. Wesley Johnson – Detroit Pistons
Stan Van Gundy will never have enough 3 point shooters. With Kobe out, the Lakers are likely to go hard into sell mode. Man, that’s fun to say.
5 – Chris Copeland – New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans small forward position has been a merry-go-around of failures for as long as I can remember. The Pelicans can only continue throwing Tyreke Evans there for so long, and Chris Copeland would be a cheap pick up for them. He has been a revelation for the Pacers, but their season is quickly going nowhere without Paul George. Speaking of the Pacers, wouldn’t it be fun for Born Ready to join them again?