For most of the 2000′s, Pistons general manager Joe Dumars was striking out in the draft. Besides Tayshaun Prince and Mehmet Okur in the 2001 and 2002 drafts, Dumars didn’t have another draft pick make an impact until Jason Maxiell in 2005.
He went another few drafts before Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo in 2007 – and not much in between – but in the last three years, he has done extremely well. Using the last few drafts, we’ll be taking a look at the Pistons young core of players and best-case projections for each. We’ve already looked at Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, and Jonas Jerebko, Kim English, and Austin Daye; next up is Kyle Singler, the team’s 2011 second-round pick.
Joe Dumars received plenty of criticism when he drafted Singler with the 33rd overall pick in the 2011 draft. Despite having a stellar college career, including the 2010 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award en route to that year’s title, he wasn’t projected to be much more than a role player in the NBA.
While he has a solid 6’8” and 230-pound frame, he didn’t really have an explosive offense or NBA-caliber lateral movement, two extremely important aspect when making the jump to the big league. What the Pistons did see in him, though, was his leadership and basketball IQ.
After deciding to play overseas immediately after getting drafted, despite much criticism, he went on to average 14.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.1 steals with CB Lucentum Alicente, a Spanish league team. He even helped Real Madrid win the 2012 Spanish King’s Cup.
With a solid summer league, he proved that the year in Spain truly helped his game, as he showed good shooting range and even an ability to drive the lane efficiently, something that most considered a weakness of his.
Best-case scenario: Shane Battier
What better comparison for one Duke wing player than another former Blue Devil? Battier has made a career out of being a “glue guy,” someone who doesn’t do anything spectacular but does everything else well enough to continue getting minutes.
Also like Battier, plays likely won’t be run specifically for Singler. He’ll need to be ready for a Brandon Knight or Rodney Stuckey kick-out to the corner for a three-point attempt or a hustle put-back layup after a missed shot. Playing on a Memphis Grizzlies team that lacked scoring (27th out of 29 teams), Battier averaged 14.4 points in his rookie year on 12.3 shots.
As the rest of his teammates got better, especially Pau Gasol, the 2001 Naismith College Player of the Year found ways to help his team without scoring; in fact, he hasn’t averaged more than eight shot attempts in any season since that rookie campaign. He has, however, become a go-to defender on whichever team he has played for, including Houston and Miami, where he finally won a championship last year.
Singler is still young, meaning his physical attributes could evolve with time, but for the near future, he could do worse than trying to emulate Battier’s game. On a Pistons team with question marks, the 24-year old forward should fill in the “solid bench player” role fairly well this upcoming season.