Swirsky on Swingmen
Posted Sep 20 2002 2:40PM
Toronto Raptors TV and radio voice Chuck Swirsky gives NBA.com/Canada the skinny on swingmen.
The role of the swingman has certainly changed over the years. About 10 years ago it was a classic case of a gifted, skilled star being able to handle the ability to play small forward and big guard. Then was then and now is now.
The bottom line is we've seen 6-6 Vince Carter play point guard, big guard and small forward. Players are developing their game at an earlier stage and have mastered enough ball-handling and passing skills to play on the ball at different positions. Magic Johnson's uncanny ability to play all five positions during the 1980 Finals remains one of the greatest single moments in NBA history I have ever seen. With center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the sideline with an ankle injury Johnson delivered an impact performance, leading the Lakers past the Sixers in Game Six. There is no question in my mind Johnson was the consummate swingman. But instead of a two-way player, Johnson was a five-tool star with plenty of high basketball IQ.
Here are a few tips for players hoping to become multi-talented.
1. Learn how to defend big and small. If you have height and quickness, the better you'll be prepared to handle this assignment.
2. Ball skills. You must be able to put the ball on the floor and create. Can you beat your man off the bounce?
3. Shooting. Can you catch and shoot? Do you have the skills to drive, step back and drain a jumper against a 6-4 guard or a 6-7 small forward?
4. Playing physical. Do you have enough strength to box-out, post-up and make on-the-ball stops?
5. Basketball IQ. Know when to give it up. If you can take your opponent to the cup, do it. If it's not there, kick it out.
These things should get you started in the right direction, provided you've got the height, strength, physical conditioning and skills to play multi-positions.