In the 2011 NBA Draft this past June there were some Wizards fans hoping Ernie Grunfeld would take Florida State forward Chris Singleton with the sixth overall pick. Instead, Grunfeld chose Jan Vesely from the Czech Republic, but when the team’s second pick rolled around, Singleton was the selection.
Chris Singleton was a favorite of draft analysts and was widely considered the best perimeter defender in the draft. His offensive game is limited, but he has the ability to hit open shots.
All kidding aside, it doesn’t matter if Chris Singleton can contribute anything offensively. The Wizards are offensively challenged, but Singleton’s ability to play good defense is enough for me to give Ernie Grunfeld an A+ for drafting Singleton.
It’s no secret that the Wizards have struggled defensively in recent years. A season ago, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee continued to play almost no defense. John Wall has the ability to be a plus defender but struggled at times as a rookie defending top point guards. Nick Young is solid as a one on one defender but lost focus time after time in team defense, and Jordan Crawford can also be a productive defender but gambled too much last season. It will take more than just Singleton being productive on defense for the Wizards to become a good defensive unit, but Chris Singleton is a start.
Just like fellow rookies Jan Vesley and Shelvin Mack, Singleton will get the opportunity to play good minutes for a rookie.
The starters at the forward spots will be Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche, but both have had their struggles staying healthy. Along with Singleton, the reserve forwards will be rookie Jan Vesley, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, and veteran Maurice Evans. There will be plenty of competition for playing time, but Singleton’s ability to defend and his versatility to defend shooting guards and both forward positions makes him very valuable and gives him an advantage for playing time over the rest of the reserve options.
That is for this season, but what about Chris Singleton’s long-term future in D.C.?
Optimistic Wizards fans like to compare Singleton to Luol Deng. On the defensive side of the court and in terms of their size, I agree. However, Singleton has a long way to go offensively to be able to average 17 points per game like Deng does on a very good team — like Deng’s Chicago Bulls are. This is why I compare Singleton to the Oklahoma City Thunder starting shooting guard, Thabo Sefolosha. The Thunder start Sefolosha as their defensive stopper and only rely on him to score five or six points a game on their title contending team. That’s a role that in time Singleton is more than capable of filling long-term. The Wizards will have to find more legitimate scoring options around Singleton to allow him to fill that complementary role because Sefolosha can settle in to that role when he has the league scoring champion in Kevin Durant and another twenty point per game scorer in Russell Westbrook along side of him.
Only time will tell, but selecting Chris Singleton with the 18th overall pick this past June was a rare good call by team president Ernie Grunfeld.
Twitter: @Kevin_Hine and @WizOfAwesKevin