Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Previewing '13-'14: Kyle Singler

This is a series previewing every player on the Pistons roster before the season kicks into gear. Previously: Jonas JerebkoJosh Harrellson, (I wrote a Luigi Datome preview that was lost to the internet; RIP Datome preview), Peyton SivaTony Mitchell, Charlie Villanueva, Rodney Stuckey

'12-'13 stats
42.8% (35.0%)

For a player who came out of college as an outside threat (kind of; this is something of a misnomer because he shot only 32% from outside his senior season), Kyle Singler's greatest asset during his rookie season was his rebounding abilities. Though he shot a respectable 35% from outside last season, pulling in 1.3 offensive rebounds a game became Singler's defining trait. As well it should have: he's a 6'8" kid playing shoot guard and a relative nonfactor in the offensive gameplan (only a 14.5% usage rate), allowing him to crash the boards hard.

Entering his second season, Singler's starting spot was consumed by some combination of Billups/KCP/Stuckey/Smith, moving him to a more appropriate position: off-the-bench floor spacer. This doesn't mean Singler will struggle to make an impact this season. Players often see an uptick in production from year one to year two, so if Singler can improve his outside shooting and on-ball defensive skills, he could become a valuable member of the rotation.

Last year, Singler was left-heavy...
...which is neither unprecedented nor detrimental. Knowing this, the Pistons can build their offense around having a shooter in the left corner when he is on the floor. But balancing his shooting percentages around the arc will be crucial to make him a relevant, consistent contributor.

Defensively, Singler is generally overmatched. Last season, he was guarding shifty shooting guards who could take him off the dribble. This season, he'll spend more time at the small forward position, guarding players stronger and more athletically gifted. With the other members of the Detroit's front court, Singler's defensive downfalls can be hidden, but the team still can't rely on him in late-game situations.

Projected '13-'14 role: Backup small forward
Josh Smith takes on the starting small forward position, but how long he stays at that position during any given game is unclear. Smith will likely split his time between small forward and power forward, freeing up playing time for Singler. And with the need to spread the floor, Singler could be a valuable bench scorer. His rebounding prowess will likely take a step back but only because it won't be needed: Smith and Drummond crashing the boards will necessitate less rebounding help.

Projected '13-'14 stats
43% (38.0%)

What does this mean for the team?
Singler will never be a star for an NBA team but he could be Mike Miller: a sharp-shooting bench scorer that gives maximum effort and finds other ways to affect the game. He is the perfect complement to the Pistons' roster situation and should find ample opportunity to contribute this season. I'm relatively bullish on Singler's development. I liked his effort and skillset last season, and if he can improve his shooting stroke, you may not totally dread rooting for a Dukie.

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