He’s a Winner

Singler’s smarts, toughness add up to a ready-to-help rookie

Kyle Singler already reminds George Blaha of other great forwards of the past.
Dan Lippitt (NBAE/Getty)
The Pistons last week traded Tayshaun Prince, who for many seasons was a player able to do whatever a coach needed him to do. Kyle Singler is not the same player as Tayshaun, but he has a lot of those same qualities. Kyle has been a breath of fresh air in terms of being able to play most nights like a seasoned pro.

You think about what Kyle brings to the table, there really are some other comparisons to Tayshaun. Tayshaun played four years under a microscope at Kentucky and was a significant contributor all four years and MVP there for two years. Here comes Kyle Singler, who played nearly 150 games in four years for Duke and they’re under the microscope as much as any team in America.

This is a guy who played under pressure and clearly was able to respond to pressure and ended up being one of Duke’s all-time leading scorers. I’m sure he learned a lot along the way from Coach K and then learned plenty more over in Spain.

I remember talking to George David, Pistons assistant general manager, about the league in Spain and he said, top to bottom, that’s as good a competition as there is in Europe. There are some great teams in other countries, but that’s an excellent league. So to play all those games at Duke and then go play a year in Europe in a tough league, he was ready to help when he got here.

Kyle looks to me like he could clearly play three positions. They all aren’t perfect for him, maybe – I think his perfect position is probably small forward and that’s where he’s played much of his basketball career so far, I’m sure even back to his high school days in Oregon. At a legit 6-foot-8 with quickness and toughness and basketball smarts, he can in a pinch play all three of those spots – power forward, small forward and shooting guard – at both ends of the court.

The fact he got his share of starts at shooting guard shows you that coach Frank and the staff felt like he had the skill set to play there. Even if he was a little bit out of position, he wouldn’t hurt you there. That’s one thing you can say about Kyle Singler – he won’t hurt you. He guards Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson and a lot of people in between and scores on the other end himself.

He makes plays. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there and get things done around the basket. He just plays and I think any coach would love to have Kyle Singler on his team. He’s a heck of a second-round draft choice. That’s another redraft guy who would clearly be a first-round draft choice and probably a lottery pick.

One of the great things about Kyle is he never stops moving. When I think about all my years in the league, I can even go back to when Doug Collins was a player for the 76ers. He never stopped moving. And because of that, with a good point guard on the court with him, he got open shots. He got layups. He found a way to score in a ton of ways.

It’s not easy to be moving all the time. You’ve got to be in shape and it’s full-tilt hustle all the time. Kyle Singler brings that to the table. He’ll score when he’s on the court – he’ll score because he’ll find a way to get himself open. Whether it’s spotting up or on cuts to the basket, it all depends on what you need on that particular night.

He may not see the ball as much some nights as he does others because somebody else might have it going, but with Jose Calderon at point guard and with his vision – I still think he might be the purest point guard in the league – and Kyle’s movement, I think you’ll see Jose and Kyle teaming up on some great plays. Jose is an equal-opportunity passer. If you’ve got the best shot and you’re able to score, you’re going to get the basketball – and Kyle is often going to be that guy.

I’m sure there are many nights when coaches take Kyle Singler out of the game just to rest him. He almost never hurts you when he’s on the floor. More often than not, he helps you and not just a little. He doesn’t make mistakes, he makes the right play and he’s willing to give up his body to get it done on both ends.

I can’t even count the times that he’s been involved – not in a cheap way – in some physical play around the basket. With his ability to shoot it and his length, he could stay out of the fray on the offensive end and still be an NBA player. But he’s more than willing to stick his nose in there and play the physical kind of basketball you have to play to help your team win in the NBA.

There are guys who don’t hurt you but they don’t help you win. I think Kyle Singler is clearly a winner.