If you asked any general manager before the start of the offseason what they aimed to improve, every one of them would have pointed to their team’s wing depth. Length, size and shooting are what every GM is looking for. The more they have, the more versatile their team is and the greater their team’s chances of success.
Here at RealGM, we’ve ranked every team’s wing corps from 1 to 30 based on the top three wings’ production, upside and versatility. Each wing is given a grade in each category between 1 and 5, and those are totaled up for a cumulative score.
Determining what players are a wing and what players are, say, a ball-handler or primarily a frontcourt player isn’t an exact science. For example, Brooklyn’s Dorian Finney-Smith is considered a wing, while Draymond Green and Grant Williams are not. Why? Because Finney-Smith spends more time defending wings than Green and Williams, whose assignments tend to trend bigger. Even though Devin Booker will run a lot of Phoenix’s offense, he will also guard wings on defense. He’s a wing. Bradley Beal is a guard, and not considered for this exercise. Seth Curry is a wing, Steph Curry is not.
Feel free to poke holes and debate, but you’ll see that we’ve got a comprehensive ranking. It starts with Phoenix, who revamped their roster over the last six months.
1. Phoenix Suns
Since last season’s trade deadline, the Suns have swapped Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson for Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul for Bradley Beal. Ironically, they would have had the top-ranked wing trio this season if they never made those trades at all. Still, they come in at No. 1 for 2023 mostly because they are so top-heavy.
Durant and Booker both graded out as 5s for production. Josh Okogie got the nod for their third wing, but we could have also considered Eric Gordon for that third spot. Either way, Phoenix comes in with a cumulative score of 33. Beyond the first layer, they aren’t as deep as their rivals, but we’re judging trios here, and the Suns are betting their best players are excellent enough to withstand their lack of depth.
2. Boston Celtics
Right behind the Suns are the Celtics, headlined by Jayson Tatum and the very-rich Jaylen Brown. Tatum is elite and still getting better, while Brown survived another flurry of trade rumors and enters the 2023-24 season fresh off signing a five-year, $304 million supermax extension.
Boston will have to decide on a third wing, but Sam Hauser seems like an early favorite to get minutes in his third season. They also signed Oshae Brissett this summer.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
When Kawhi Leonard and Paul George play, they are as good as any wing duo in the league. And with Norman Powell coming off the bench and Nic Batum entering his final NBA season, the Clippers are as deep as any team in the league.
But lack of health pushes the Clippers down to No. 3 (and tied with our fourth-ranked team in cumulative score). Leonard and George have missed a total of 286 games in their four years in LA. George missed 26 games last season, while Leonard missed 30, then got hurt again in the playoffs. The injuries hurt their production grades, and the Clippers slid here.
4. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans might have the best combination of young wings in the league, and that’s even when you get past Brandon Ingram, who is still just 25. Trey Murphy III has blossomed into one of the league’s elite 3-point shooters and premier 3-and-D wings. Herbert Jones is a menace on defense.
But don’t sleep on Ingram, who quietly averaged 27.3 points and 6.9 assists after the All-Star break, and could enjoy a post-Team USA boost.
5. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets pivoted from the Durant-Kyrie Irving era to a rebuild centered around a deep and interesting group of wings. The headliners are Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, who came over from Phoenix in February. They also nabbed Finney-Smith from the Mavericks in the Kyrie deal. Those three are enough to clock in with a cumulative score of 30, and that’s without considering Royce O’Neal or Ben Simmons.
Bridges can turn this into a top-three group if he can build on his post-trade performance in Brooklyn when he looked at times like a future All-Star.
6. Toronto Raptors
Who plays what for the Raptors is a little confusing, but we ended up going with Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. (deciding that Pascal Siakam should be considered a big).
A third-year leap from Barnes could elevate this group to elite status – that is, as long as they don’t trade Anunoby.
7. Orlando Magic
The Magic are building around Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, and you’re hard-pressed to find a better 25-and-under wing duo in the NBA. Banchero is a 20-point scorer and getting better, while Wagner is a perfectly versatile co-pilot.
8. Los Angeles Lakers
Over the last 12 months, the Lakers have turned what was a weak positional group into a strong one. The emergence (and re-signing) of Austin Reaves and the bargain addition of Taurean Prince gives the Lakers – in addition to LeBron James, of course – a solid and versatile group of two-way wings.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder
This was the hardest team to grade. Technically, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey are guards, but they are long and switchable and could be considered wings if you squint hard enough. We split the difference and considered Giddey a wing, leaving out SGA.
Add Giddey’s upside to the sturdy Lu Dort and exciting Jalen Williams, and the Thunder have as tantalizing a group as any.
10. Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler’s elite play lifts the Heat on this list on his own, but don’t sleep on Caleb Martin or the newly-signed Josh Richardson. Martin may not average his East finals stats for the season, but Erik Spoelstra trusts him in a variety of roles. Richardson will knock down open shots and guard multiple positions.
11. Golden State Warriors
Slightly surprising that the Warriors rank this low. But that’s because Golden State’s proven wings – Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson and Gary Payton II – rank high in production but low in upside; while their unproven wings – Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody – rank low in production and higher in upside.
If one of the young guys pops, the Warriors could rank much higher this time next year.
12. Denver Nuggets
Denver’s wing group comes in at above average, but it might be selling its perfect fit next to Nikola Jokic short. Especially Aaron Gordon, who has blossomed into the perfect cutting, passing and defensive-minded wing needed to play next to Jokic (the Jokic-Gordon two-player lineup is one of the best-rated high-usage duos in the league).
13. Sacramento Kings
Like the defending champs, the Kings landed on a steady trio of wings that complement their star center and point guard duo. Harrison Barnes, Keegan Murray and Kevin Huerter all offer length and shooting, while Barnes is a plus defender and Murray showed glimpses of being a special two-way player in his rookie season.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves
Anthony Edwards is considered a wing for this exercise because he’ll often take on bigger defensive assignments. His production and upside buoy Minnesota’s ranking, while Jaden McDaniels and Kyle Anderson grade out as solid wing contributors.
15. Utah Jazz
Lauri Markannen is one of the best-scoring wings in the NBA, and Ochai Agbaji provides this group with more upside. Utah fans are higher on Talen Horton-Tucker than anyone else since Lakers fans.
16. New York Knicks
New York’s bullpen of wings – RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes and Josh Hart – grade out well in terms of production (especially when you factor in Grimes’ and Hart’s defense) but limited upside and versatility puts a ceiling on this group.
17. San Antonio Spurs
Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell put up 22 points and 18.5 points, respectively, on a bad team last season. Both showed enough flashes to believe in their upside, even if the counting stats were a bit inflated. The Spurs hope Malaki Branham can build on the strong end to his rookie season.
18. Houston Rockets
Amen Thompson and Tari Eason have as much upside as any rookie and sophomore wing duo in the league. Signing Dillon Brooks provides some immediate production in terms of defense, but offers little upside.
How new coach Ime Udoka balances getting the young guys' experience with the need to play his new, high-priced free agents will be a challenge.
19. Portland Trail Blazers
The decision to re-sign Jerami Grant to a five-year, $160 million contract was met with skepticism in the wake of Damian Lillard’s trade request, but it lifts an otherwise pedestrian group of wings. The best thing going for the Blazers is Shaedon Sharpe’s considerable upside.
20. Washington Wizards
Sort of surprised the Wizards ranked even this high, but Kyle Kuzma’s production and versatility, plus rookie Bilal Coulibaly’s upside, boosted Washington’s grade.
21. Detroit Pistons
Between Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris and Ausar Thompson, the Pistons check the boxes of production with the first two, and upside and versatility with the rookie Thompson. Unfortunately, no single player checks all the boxes himself.
22. Memphis Grizzlies
After losing Brooks in free agency, Desmond Bane is the Grizzlies’ only proven wing. Behind Bane are John Konchar and David Roddy, with Zaire Williams an honorable mention. One of them could pop, putting the Grizzlies in much better shape, but there was too much unknown to give any Memphis wing besides Bane a high grade.
23. Charlotte Hornets
No. 2 pick Brandon Miller gives Charlotte’s wing room some potential to latch onto, while Gordon Hayward and Cody Martin are known commodities.
24. Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta’s top three wings – De'Andre Hunter, Bogdan Bogdanovic and AJ Griffin – are solid, but neither has established himself as consistently reliable. The Hawks would have been helped if this exercise went beyond the top three (they have strong fourth and fifth wings in Saddiq Bey and Jalen Johnson) so they rank a bit lower here than expected.
There will be nights when Atlanta looks super deep, and others when it looks like they need to trade the whole group and start over.
25. Cleveland Cavaliers
Caris LeVert, Max Strus and Georges Niang are a productive trio of wings, but neither offers the long-term upside that suggests they are the answer for a team building around Darius Garland and Evan Mobley moving forward. But it’s a solid bridge group that will likely perform better than this ranking.
26. Milwaukee Bucks
If we considered Giannis Antetokounmpo a wing, the Bucks could have ranked as high as third. But it’s become harder and harder to slot Giannis in as anything other than a big man, so the Bucks are left with Khris Middleton, Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton. They also added Malik Beasley this summer.
27. Indiana Pacers
Buddy Hield and Bruce Brown offer an offense-defense tradeoff (I do wonder how impactful Brown will be on offense now that he’s separated from Jokic). Jordan Nwora got the nod as the third wing. He’s fine.
28. Dallas Mavericks
The Kyrie Irving trade drained Dallas of whatever wing depth it had, and it didn’t do much to replenish that depth this offseason. The addition of Grant Williams is a good one, but he doesn’t factor into our wing group. Instead, the Maverick's top three are Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green and Seth Curry, with a tip of the cap to Derrick Jones Jr. and rookie Olivier-Maxence Prosper.
Green and Prosper offer upside and defense. Hardaway and Curry offer shooting. No one player offers enough on both ends to be considered above average at his position. Jason Kidd will have to tinker a lot to find the right combinations.
29. Philadelphia 76ers
Beyond Tobias Harris and De’Anthony Melton, the 76ers are woefully short on reliable wings after losing Niang in free agency. (Perhaps a James Harden trade could boost Philadelphia’s depth.)
30. Chicago Bulls
DeMar DeRozan graded out as elite in terms of production, but low in upside and versatility. Torrey Craig is a fine addition but offers little boom potential. We don’t know what Dalen Terry is yet.