ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24: Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after a play against the Arizona Wildcats during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
After the Detroit Pistons took Brandon Knight in the first round, a lot of fans were holding out hope they'd target a rugged big man in the second round. Oakland's Keith Benson, perhaps? Or maybe the well-traveled Jeremy Tyler. Instead, Joe Dumars opted for Kyle Singler, a four-year starter at Duke projected to play small forward in the NBA.
Singler was a hotter prospect a year ago than today. Looking at his numbers, he regressed instead of improving as a senior, especially shooting the ball. (In fact, the numbers suggest he's basically the same player today that he was as a freshman.) That's not to say he hasn't been productive, but his ceiling seems easy to project.
DraftExpress cites Singler's "best case" as Jeff Green; "worst case" as Matt Barnes. For a second-round pick, that's not actually too bad. It may not make up for the fact he's not a rebounding big man, but he could be a solid rotation player for years to come.
ESPN's Chad Ford tweeted shortly after the pick was announced:
Pistons take Kyle Singler at 33. Not in love with him as a prospect, but he's TOUGH
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski chimed in:
That's a great pickup for Pistons at 33: Duke's Kyle Singler.
* Knows how to get his points
* Good passer from the forward spot
* Takes pride in defense
* Needs to get stronger
* Isn’t overly quick/athletic
Comments from coaches (same link), with a hint of Rodney Stuckey's "I'm never scared" attitude:
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski
"I forgot who asked Kyle, 'Have you ever been afraid?' And Kyle broke out in that smile and said, 'No.' And he wasn’t boastful like, 'No, I'm never afraid.' He just kind of smiled and said, 'No, I always want to be there. I want to be in those situations.' I just think that as he’s grown as a player, he's been in more situations. He's been in enough to be one of the best players ever here. When you look at all the things he's done, he’s been a winner. That's the bottom line, he's a winner."
Michigan coach John Beilein
"Singler is long. Sometimes he's playing a 3-man at 6-8. There's not many 3-men at 6-8 out there. And then you're passing against that length on a ball pickup."
Trouble is, 6-8 small forward are the norm in the NBA, and I'm not sure his length can compensate for his lack of speed and athleticism. (Truth be told, I have the same reservations about Austin Daye -- this isn't a "white players are slow" stereotype.)
Strengths: An experienced champion and winner at the college level, Singler has as impressive a resume’ as any prospect in this class … A 4-year starter who was an impact player at Duke as soon as he put on the uniform … At 6’9 and the 228 lb frame he has worked hard on, he has good size for the SF spot he’ll likely occupy for year to come at the NBA level … Very unselfish player who acceted and understood his role at Duke and played it beautifully … Has an effective jump shot with soft touch and the height and release to get it off easily … Is effective off screens and in transition with his shot … High IQ player, who is good at finding openings and usually makes smart decisions when he has the ball … Displays adequate passing and ball-handling skills … Highly competitive, and plays with good intensity and energy … Not a bad rebounder on the wing ...
Weaknesses: Singler could struggle with his below average athleticism at the next level … Will struggle on D, and will have to do little things like take charges and hustle hard to not be a complete non-factor on that end … Is pretty stiff laterally, and can be blown by off the bounce, even by players with middling athleticism … Scouts waited 4 years for Singler to emerge into an elite shooter, but he never did and was largely just decent … Struggled particularly badly with his shot as a Sr. (32% from 3-point range) … Misses too many open shots to be considered a pure shooter, and is prone to long stretches of inefficient shooting … Wasn’t overly effective as a slasher at Duke and struggled badly finishing around the rim, so that problem will be compounded against NBA defenders … For someone with his experience and IQ, putting up more assists than turnovers in 3 of his 4 years in college is a concern … Plays below the rim … Singler tunred 23 on May 4th further limiting his upside as he's a year older than the average senior ...
Overall: Singler has the winning resume’ and the size to garner first round consideration … He is a well-known commodity and teams probably were higher on him during last years draft … Still, his disappointing Sr. season (especially as a shooter), his lack of athleticism and his probable struggles on D raised some doubt on where he is going to be picked and how effective he’ll be at the next level … It's safe to say, he probably would’ve been much better off declaring last year ...