Tbird 2011 NBA draft analysis #4: Chris Singleton
Written by thunderbird1245
With three weeks to go until draft night, we continue on with the 4th of my 2011 draft profiles, forward Chris Singleton from Florida State University. Previously this year we have profiled Alec Burks from Colorado, Washington State’s Klay Thompson, and Tristan Thompson from Texas. You can read those profiles elsewhere on this site.
Chris Singleton is a very good prospect. At 6’9, 230 lbs with a 7’1 wingspan, Singleton has an NBA ready body on the first time he steps on stage to shake hands with David Stern. Long, athletic, and powerfully built in his upper body, Singleton very much looks the part of an NBA modern day forward, easily passing the “airport eye” test. The only real quibble one could have of his body type and condition would be to me that on tape he looks like his legs are skinny…..like he works out a ton on his upper torso and arms but doesn’t do as much leg work. Not sure if that is just an optical illusion on tape or not, but it is noticeable to me watching him play. I am sure that is something that will not be a long term problem however, and wouldn’t effect my evaluation of him in the least if I were a true professional NBA talent evaluator.
Offensively, Singleton was limited quite a bit from showing all of his talents by a very disjointed offensive attack his team played under Coach Leonard Hamilton at FSU. The Seminoles played a grind out, poorly conceived kind of halfcourt game this season, which made them somewhat unenjoyable to watch. Having said that, seeing what he looked like in a style such as that was a good indicator of what his strengths and weaknesses are right now as an offensive player.
Singleton is a guy who struggles to handle the ball on the perimeter, looking uncomfortable in any situation where he was forced to make decisions or drive thru traffic. If you are looking for a wing who can get his own shot in iso situations, Singleton is not your man. He is not an effective slasher, as he has a very annoying tendency to drive the basketball into the paint and then get off balance, showing poor body control. In fact, watching him stumble to stop is why I noticed his somewhat skinnier legs initially, as I searched for a reason that he gets so off balance when trying to make a 2 foot jump stop in traffic. Right now he has the ability to make no more than 2 dribbles when in attack mode,* a turnover or a poor shot is likely to happen if he tries to do any more than that.
Playing in such a halfcourt rigid style was not a way he could ever really shine from an offensive point of view. However he isn’t without talent, he just doesn’t possess the ball skills elite forwards have.
What he can do for a team with the right style of play is run the floor and be a finisher on the fast break.* He has good hands and can catch the ball on the move, and he can finish with authority. More than that, he is a willing floor runner, and I think he will be liberated getting into the faster paced pro game. He won’t lead your break and he won’t make any great passes to teammates, but he can be a guy who finalizes possessions in advantage situations….a role I think he will play very well.
I also like the potential he has as a standstill spot up 3 point shooter. As long as he can have his feet set and retain his balance, he has a nice high release and good follow thru with his wrist and big 3 fingers. I like how he holds the basketball going up, and I like how the ball looks coming out of his hands. It isn’t a lightning quick release or anything, and if he is forced to dribble or move or re set his feet his mechanics can get off kilter, but if he can just spot up either in transition or someone driving and creating shots for him, I think he can be a knockdown set shot 3 point shooter in the NBA, maybe not immediately, but very soon.
Coaching Singleton up in the area of playing with his back to the basket will be critical for whoever gets him long term. I believe in his potential as a post up threat, taking smaller defenders inside and punishing them. Because (unlike many similar body types to Singleton) he isn’t overly in love with his jump shot, I think he will be willing and able to make playing with his back to the rim an effective weapon in his arsenal. Like mentioned above, he will need to improve his body balance and strengthen his legs and hips so he can retain position inside before he receives a post entry, but I project those things to happen IF his next coaching staff makes it a priority. I love his upper body strength and ability to score thru contact, and to be an aggressive power player inside if asked to become that. He shows good athleticism and will be able to simply elevate and shoot over smaller people…..now all he needs to do is just finish those plays more consistently.
Some players his size, despite having superior size and all sorts of athleticism, for some reason don’t ever learn the nuances and tricks to being an effective post scorer, and I hope for his sake that he doesn’t make that same mistake. Because a wing in the NBA who can’t get his own shot off the dribble needs another group of weapons in order to help his team offensively, either becoming a lights out unbelievable shooter (I think he projects to be a good to really good shooter when open and with his feet set but not “unbelievable”) or in someway scoring points himself or creating points for others.
It is a small thing, but one I think is important to note, that I think Singleton will be a really good screener both off and on the ball. The Pacers lack a really good high ball screener right now, and I think he could fill that role for us in time as a guy who could screen and roll right to the front of the rim…..but he couldn’t be a pick/pop guy yet as he doesn’t knock that mid range jumper down consistently enough right now. Can he develop that in time as he gets older? We will see. Off the ball I like him as a screener even better than on the ball, as he gets really wide in his screens and more than anything is willing to stick his nose in there and take contact. While I thought the overall style of coach Hamilton’s team this year in some ways was less than the ideal way they should have played, it is apparent to me in many small ways that Singleton has been well coached at the college level on an individual basis.
While Singleton has both clear weaknesses and strengths potentially as an offensive player, there is no ambiguity in his defensive effort. Singleton is outstanding in this area, with really no weaknesses to speak of. I think he was the best defensive player in college basketball all season, routinely shutting down people that he matched up with. Unfortunately FSU’s really poor offense kept them from being a top notch team, but defensively the Seminoles were really good in general, led by Singleton.
Defending wings, Singleton is top notch. He made it hard to simply v cut and catch the basketball, forcing the opposing coach to either have to screen down for his wings to get open or to use dribble entries just to initiate offense. At worst, Singleton routinely forced his man to catch the basketball in the “1+1″ area (1 step further above the foul line extended, and 1 step beyond the 3 point line)….this is no small skill, as being able to do that screws up the design and geometry of most offensive schemes.
Once his man catches the basketball, Singleton has the quickness to play “heads up” on his man, which means he doesn’t have to shade a man either direction…..he has the quickness to slide and cut off a dribbler no matter where he goes. You don’t have to scheme or trick up your defense normally to help him, you can leave him on an island on the perimeter and be pretty safe strategically. Singleton appears to be hard to pass against, as he traces the ball well and gets lots of fingertips on passes made near him. He is really aggressive defensively, getting right up under the chin of the offensive players, which at the NBA level will get him in trouble a bit, as he is susceptible to the quick “sweep and drive” move right on a catch. Also, he will get in some foul trouble when savvy offensive players lean into him and then flail and flop, creating contact and drawing whistles. But those are correctable mistakes he will learn as he continues to play in the league.* He contests shots well in one on one situations, rising up with his length to block the vision of shooters, though he does need I think to learn to rise up with both hands and not just his right hand (an underrated skill).
As a post defender, he tries hard but guys can back him down and get him off balance, as he lacks a little strength in the core area. This and* the fact that I view him such an outstanding perimeter player is why I view him as a “3″ in the NBA, not as a “4″, though I readily admit his lack of offensive polish and ballhandling skills would be mitigated if he played as a really athletic 4 man for you. I just like his perimeter defense enough to not worry about that as much as some people would.
Rebounding is another reason I like him as a “3″ more than a “4″. I like the ability to have a size and strength matchup over most teams at that position (outside of the certain team in South Beach), and playing as your small forward he can give you that. He needs to become more active and assertive on the offensive glass than he is, but still has good numbers as a board man. Keep in mind when looking at the rebounding numbers 2 factors: first, he rarely drives so he doesn’t get his own offensive rebound that often, and secondly he almost always will guard a perimeter player. Still, I see him as a guy who can get key big rebounds for you in traffic, and having a superior board man at the “3″ spot next to players at the PF and C positions respectively who rebound below the average has got to be an important factor to consider for teams. If you view him as a PF you can’t be overly thrilled with his rebounding, but as a “3″… to me you have to consider his potential in that area a major plus.
So, in summary* what do we have in the forward from Florida State?
I see a big time defensive wing with the flexibility to potentially guard 3 spots on the floor depending on matchups. I see a guy who defensively enables to you defend the ball screen in multiple ways, and who can guard the best NBA wings one on one and force them into bad situations and tough shots. Offensively I think he will be limited as a ballhandler but who will score on spot up 3 point shots, in transition, eventually as a guy who can post up some against smaller guys, and who will go to the offensive glass for you. He isn’t ever going to be among your best 3 offensive players probably, but he will be able to score I think 10-15 points on average eventually for you while providing top tier defense.
In the right system surrounded by the right types of players and coaches, I think we will look back on this draft a few years from now and consider Singleton a top 6-8 player from this class, maybe even better than that.
Singleton makes a ton of sense for many teams in my opinion, but to me if you are a team in the Eastern Conference who is serious about making a run thru the playoffs eventually, you are going to need someone who can somewhat contain the Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony type big powerful wing guys. No one person can really STOP guys like that, but Singleton is the ideal kind of player to put on players such as those. He has the needed size, strength, and mentality to be a defensive difference maker in a playoff series, in my judgment.
To me his floor is New York at #17, though many draft sites have him lower than that at this moment on June 2 as I write this.* Phoenix would be a nice fit for him at #13, as would Golden State at #11 or Houston at #14. In fact, I like him well enough that if I were the Wizards sitting at #6 that I would consider him there…….a perimeter defender and athlete like Singleton with the freak athletes they have in McGee at center and John Wall at point guard would make the Wizards tough to score on in the future.
If teams value wing defense, they’ll think highly as I do of Singleton. If they focus more on his offensive shortcomings, then they will not like him. I expect his stock will rise as* this process continues, as he has the endorsement of the well respected college coach Hamilton and I think his defense makes him a valued commodity….you know what you will get every night with Singleton, where as many of the others in this draft are like playing the slot machine.
So, what do the Pacers do with Singleton, and how does he fit their team right now and projecting into the future?
In 3 words, I don’t know.
I think Singleton is a wing, a 3 man, and that is our strongest position by far. We also have Paul George from the last draft, who is also a very good defender at that spot and is obviously still very young. Wings in general are also the easiest and cheapest position to fill. Singleton also isn’t the offensive off the dribble shot creator we need, in fact he is the opposite.
On the other hand, we are in the east, and we need wings to replace Mike Dunleavy and eventually Brandon Rush anyway. Plus, likely I think Singleton will be a high impact rookie who can play right away and is mature and from a good program. For us, I think you can plug and play him as our 3rd wing, giving him backup minutes in a 3 man rotation with Granger and Paul George immediately…..there are approximately 30 minutes a game for a back up wing for us, and he can fill most of those I think from day 1. Also, even if I view him as much more effective as a “3″, he is athletic enough to play spot minutes in the front court, helping shutdown all of the perimeter oriented power forwards that are becoming much more popular these days.
It would be a tough call for Indiana if he is still there for us, as I expect he would be the proverbial best player available. I need to finish my breakdowns and survey the draft board before making a recommendation….but I can say that of all the players I have both written about on here as of now and have watched tape on, he is my favorite so far this year. I don’t think he will be a superstar, but I think he will be a solid pro and in fact for most teams in the league I think Singleton projects as a starter who plays high level championship defense for really good teams…..if they use him correctly and have the type of talent that his skill set fits with.
Current NBA comparable: A non crazy Ron Artest
Former NBA comparable: I need some help….anyone?
As always, the above is just my opinion.