Swingman is a basketball term used to describe any player who can play out of position. The five basketball positions are Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward, Power Forward, and Center. These positions are also referred to by numbers, the PG being number 1, the SG number 2, and so on, up to number 5.
A classic swingman is a player who plays at both the SG and SF position. This is frequently seen in the NBA, as the positions are very similar. SG/SF swingmen generally range from around 6'6"-6'10" in height, although there are always exceptions. 6'8" Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors is a good example of a classic, high scoring swingman, as is 6'7" Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks. Classic swingmen are usually potent scorers, who have good perimeter shooting, as well as the ability to penetrate inside to the basket.
The classic definition of a swingman has been expanded upon by players in recent years who have used their unique skills to play a variety of positions. These include players such as Jalen Rose of the Chicago Bulls, who is 6'9", and rotates between the 2,3, and 4 positions, or 6'11" Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, who can play at the 3,4, or 5. Besides generally being extremely versatile and well-rounded players, the main advantage of having swingmen is the ability for a coach to create mismatches in his favor. When guarded by a larger and slower player, a good swingman will use his superior athleticism and speed to blow past him. If being guarded by someone shorter, a swingman will usually take advantage of the mismatch and fire a shot, or penetrate to the basket.
Most of the best players in the NBA can be labelled swingmen, including top caliber talent like Michael Jordan, Kevin Garnett, and Kobe Bryant, to name just a few.