Kyle Singler’s best trick may be yet to come.
The rookie swingman of the Detroit Pistons burst into the basketball blogosphere in the past week with the help of a video showing a variety of trick shots he made using props. It’s kinda cool. Take a look.
But Singler’s best trick thus far has had nothing to do with making shots down long staircases or off moving cars. It is his emergence from obscurity to one of the top rookies this season.
Singler wasn’t chosen in the 2012 NBA draft. He actually was drafted by Detroit in 2011 – in the second round. After a year in Spain, he returned to the Pistons and arrived at training camp way down the depth chart at his natural position of small forward.
The 6-8, 230-pound Singler was behind veterans Tayshaun Prince and Corey Maggette. He probably was alongside Khris Middleton, another small forward taken in the second round in June. And he was playing for the Pistons, currently one of the most apathetic operations in the NBA.
Detroit’s awful 0-8 start may have provided the opportunity Singler needed. He was one of the few Pistons who did not play poorly during that stretch – knocking down threes, getting to the line, rebounding a little bit.
When the Pistons arrived in Philadelphia on Nov. 14, coach Lawrence Frank was pretty much grasping at straws, so he started Singler at shooting guard. The kid responded with a season-high 16 points in Detroit’s first win and has not looked back.
That began a stretch that has seen Singler score in double figures in six of eight games, while shooting 53 percent (37-of-70) from the field. More important, it also began a stretch that has seen the Pistons win five times and force opponents to start taking them seriously.
In Monday’s 108-101 home win over Portland, Singler had his best game yet, collecting 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists – all season highs – while outplaying Damian Lillard, who is considered the current front-runner for Rookie of the Year by anyone whose eyes work.
He also drew praise from the aptly named Frank, who doesn’t do much sugar-coating.
“Kyle, I thought, was outstanding, playing a very, very complete game,” the coach said. “Defensively, he was very, very solid; ran the floor extremely well, passed the ball well, rebounding.”
Singler already has emerged as the best of Detroit’s five rookies, outplaying inconsistent lottery pick Andre Drummond. In fact, you can count on one hand all of the NBA rookies he is not outplaying.
Can he win Rookie of the Year? He still has some significant hurdles in Lillard, Harrison Barnes and Anthony Davis. And he has no chance if the Pistons play the way they did in their first eight games rather than their second eight.
But it would be a pretty neat trick.
On to the rankings.