The wing in basketball is either referring to the area along the sidelines surrounding the free-throw line extended or one of two player positions, the shooting guard (SG) or small forward (SF). Let's break down why both are called the wings!
The wings of the court are the areas on the sides of the paint, stretching from baseline to baseline. The wings do not include the center circle, paint, or point. If a player is on the left side of the basket in the wing, that side is now the ball side wing and the opposite part of the court is the weak side wing.
The wing is a common location for outlet passes when moving up the court, since the middle of the court can get overcrowded with players. A lot of shots are also taken from the wings, especially when an open player has just received a pass from a teammate at the top of the key or inside of the paint.
A wing player is typically a player who scores a lot of points for his or her team, takes an active role on defense, and is usually a small forward or shooting guard. The wing players have to be comfortable shooting from outside and moving off of the ball to create better scoring opportunities. The offense is run through the wings and the defense relies on them to make big stops. Think of LeBron James or Seimone Augustus! These are great wing players who can dominate play on both ends of the court.
The versatility and importance of wing players points to how vital the wing areas on the court are to a team's success!