Nobody in Oregon, or anywhere for that matter, really seems to be talking about Kyle Singler anymore. Everyone seems to forget just how good Singler was at South Medford back in his high school playing days. Perhaps it is because his high school rival, Kevin Love, has hogged all of the media attention. Not to say he doesn’t deserve it; I am not sure anyone in Oregon could have predicted that Kevin Love would eventually become one of the premiere power forwards in the NBA. Regardless, the media should show more love to Kyle Singler, especially the local media. It’s not very often that a talent such as Singler comes out of Oregon.
Back in their high school playing days, Kyle Singler and South Medford had the last laugh against Kevin Love and Lake Oswego. In his junior season at South Medford, Singler led his team to the state championship game, where they were defeated by Kevin Love’s Lake Oswego team 59 to 57. The next year Singler averaged 29 ppg, 10 rpg, and 3.5 apg and led South Medford to a second consecutive appearance in the state championship game, where once again they had to face the seemingly unstoppable Lake Oswego team led by Kevin Love. Despite a dominant performance from Kevin Love (37 points and 15 rebounds) Singler and the South Medford Panthers were able to hold on and win the school’s first state championship.
After his stellar high school career ended, Singler took his talents to the Duke Blue Devils. While Kevin Love was one-and-done at UCLA, Singler decided it was best for him to remain at Duke and hone his skills under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Singler played at Duke for four seasons, winning an NCAA title and MVP of the Final Four in 2010. In the 2011 NBA draft, the Pistons selected Singler with the 3rd pick of the second round, the 33rd overall pick. However, Singler decided against joining the NBA right after the lockout ended, and instead opted to play in Europe to further hone his skills. He played for the Spanish club Lucentum Alicante during the NBA lockout, and then was opportunistically scooped up by Madrid to replace Rudy Fernandez, who returned to the Nuggets after the NBA lockout ended. After a season with Madrid, the Pistons offered Singler a 3-year deal worth approximately $3.13 million.
It didn’t take long for Singler to make an impression on Detroit’s coaching staff, as well as the fans. He made such an impact that he started at shooting guard, a position he has rarely had to play in his career. When Detroit made a trade that landed them Jose Calderon, the Pistons moved Brandon Knight to the shooting guard spot, and moved Singler to his natural position, the starting small forward spot. Dan Feldman, a writer for the Detroit Pistons blog PistonPowered, had this to say about Singler’s play for the Pistons: “In the 413 minutes Singler has played, the Pistons have outscored opponents by 25 points. In the 355 minutes Singler has been on the bench, opponents have outscored the Pistons by 62 points.” Clearly Kyle Singler’s time away from the NBA was spent wisely. He was always a smart player with a high basketball IQ, but in Detroit he has taken it to a whole new level. According to Detroit Free Press’ Vince Ellis, “Singler usually leads the Pistons in the plus-minus category.” Lawrence Frank, the head coach of the Pistons, has also noticed Singler’s contributions and thought that Singler was majorly snubbed when he wasn’t invited to the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend. Frank told Mlive.com’s David Mayo, “Maybe he’s one of those guys that unless you coach him, there’s not that appreciation. Maybe they look at it size-wise, and not to take anything away from Andrew Nicholson, but look, Kyle started for the whole season and he’s done a lot of things.” Clearly Kyle Singler was snubbed, but perhaps it is because of his under-the-radar approach to entering the NBA that he garners no media attention. He was a second round pick, after all. Instead of pouting about it, Singler dedicated himself to studying the game and learning how to be effective in the NBA without being freakishly athletic. Now his hard work is paying off, and he is making the Pistons better offensively and defensively. According to Dan Feldman, “When Singler plays, the Pistons’ offense is equivalent of ninth-best in the league, according to nba.com/stats. When he sits, Detroit’s offense is the equivalent of 27th.”
With Detroit already out of the playoff race, there isn’t much to prove this year. It will be very interesting to see how Singler fares next season, or rather how the Pistons fare with Singler in the starting lineup for a full season. Singler is the kind of selfless, intelligent player who makes everyone he plays with better. He sets up his teammates for easy scores, plays hard-nosed defense, and is capable of scoring almost anywhere on the court. It’s no wonder that Singler has already earned himself a nickname or two from his teammates in Detroit. Greg Monroe has dubbed Singler, “Bucket Man,” while Corey Maggette prefers calling him “K-Smooth.” So next season, when you are nonchalantly glossing over the Eastern Conference standings in the NBA, don’t be too shocked if Detroit is one of the better teams in the East.
Joe Rampone is on Twitter. Follow him at @JoeRampone