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Mailbag: Swingmen vs. Tweeners

I was going to do another post about draft picks today but a couple things happened:

A.  Ben posted an excellent review/analysis of the workout of the summer so far just below this.  It's comprehensive, interesting, and covers some of the same players that I was going to talk about, having intentionally left them off the list until we saw what they could do.  Because he hit it out of the park, I'm going to save that discussion at least another day.

B.  Tonight is the night I sort out the Blazersedge Mock Draft GM's.  We ran a post a couple days ago asking for potential GM's to submit their analysis of a proposed trade of Rudy Fernandez, Martell Webster, and Steve Blake for Josh Howard and Jose Juan Barea.  We got 150 comments in the thread, several dozen of which are up for consideration.   More to the point we got just over 100 responses via e-mail.  This made me think several things:

  • Wow!  You guys are really awesome!
  • Geez!  You guys are really SICK.
  • Crud.  It's going to be another 3:00 a.m.-ish night for me.

E-mail was a perfectly legitimate way to respond, but I will forewarn folks that I will give some weight to regular Blazersedge names in the process.  That doesn't mean you'll see only familiar names, but other things being equal I want to honor the folks who have been here.  I hope that's encouragement for everyone else to stick around and participate.

In any case, in lieu of the draft post I'll forward this (somewhat paraphrased) e-mail question from Karl, part of our international readership.


I have heard you talk about tweeners in the draft.  You don't seem to like them.  Yet you and others also mention swingmen who can play two positions.  This appears valuable to me.  What is the difference?  Isn't a tweener a swingman, just not yet there?


It's a decent question.  Terms like this are thrown around most everywhere but there's hardly a definitive dictionary we all work from.  I'll try to explain my view.

There's a difference between tweeners and swingmen.  A swingman is good-to-excellent at one position and also has the tools and size to be decent-to-excellent at another.  A tweener has neither the complete skill set nor the size for either position and thus is a compromise at both.  I loves me some swingmen.  I hates tweeners.

A swingman is usually defined by excellent physical attributes.  He's strong.  He's quick.  He's tall.  A tweener is defined by the lack of same.  He's too slow for the position he's tall at, too short for the position he's got the speed and strength for.

A swingman usually has an impressive range of skills.  He can pass, shoot, rebound,  defend.  He's an asset everywhere you put him.  A tweener again is defined by his lack of skills.  He shoots too much for a point guard but he can't get his shot off against taller shooting guards and can't defend them either.

Swingmen often receive that distinction once into their careers.  They're drafted to fill one position and then they prove they can play at another.  Tweeners are usually correctly labeled as such before they're ever drafted, which often means they can play neither position.  Thus tweeners turn into swingmen less frequently than people assume.

If a guy is a bankable swingman coming out of college he'll often go high, as he's clearly a good player to begin with.  Tweeners will tend to fall lower than their stats and performances might otherwise indicate.

Looking back into Blazer history, Danny Ainge was the classic example of a swingman.  He could play the point or shooting guard positions with aplomb.  He had all of the skills and most of the physical attributes to do each.  James "Hollywood" Robinson was a good example of a tweener.  He had scoring skills but he was a shooting guard stuck in a point guard's body.

This brings up a good question to chew on.  Everybody knows tweeners who have bombed out of the league.  Who are some of the classic, successful swingmen you remember, not just from the Blazers but around the league?  Who are the best examples today?

Fire away in the comments if you will.

--Dave (