On the Tuesday following Duke's 4th National Championship win, and after being the tournament's MVP, Kyle Singler had more on his mind than just returning back to Durham to celebrate with friends, family, and the rest of the Duke Nation.
After a tournament performance where he averaged 18 ppg, and 19 points to push the Blue Devils over Butler in the championship game, Singler may have played his way up the ladder of the upcoming NBA draft. With players of Singler's caliber, the question once the season concludes is always "will they or won't they declare?" Well this maybe an easier decision then we all think.
There is no question that Singler has increased his draft stock considerably over the course of the season, not to mention the tournament, barring a career low of 5 points in the win over Baylor. Let's not forget that a similar conversation was being discussed at the end of the '08-'09 season about Singler going in the 1st round as a sophomore. Now over the course of his junior year he's had a chance to develop his true skill set as a power forward.
With his first two years at Duke being filled with high expectations, he had to play multiple roles that he wasn't used to. Being a PF that had to play Center, due to Duke's lack of post presence, wasn't exactly the right combination for an inexperienced Singler. As the size of Duke began to grow so did Singler's ability to show his true colors and position play.
Following the recruiting of big men like, Miles and Mason Plumlee, Singler was given more opportunities to play out on the wing, and shoot the 15 foot jump shot where he's more comfortable. He improved his ball handling skills, perimeter shooting, and his ability to drive to the hoop.
With regards to his decision there are a few factors that need to be considered:
1. The upcoming draft is laden with small and power forwards. (Monroe, Aminu, Hayward, Patterson, Davis)
2. Returning to Duke for his senior year could produce Back-to-Back championships.
3. Current projections have Singler going late first round to early second. No lottery money.
4. With the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expiring on June 10, 2011, many veteran players see a 2011 lockout as a certainty.
Singler has made it clear that his decision will either be to go in the draft or not. No testing of the waters as he says, "I don't see any value in that."
1. Even though Singler's stock has been undoubtedly on the rise, due to the number of players of his position, it's been brought back down. In 2011 there isn't slated to be as many of the same type of position players as Singler, so by default that would drive his stock up even more, not to mention the opportunity of improving his skills from another year under Coach Krzyzewski.
2. Duke will be reloaded next season with Seth Curry's redshirt period over and four recruits coming in including, #6 overall Kyrie Irving (PG) and four star recruit Josh Hairston (PF). The Blue Devils will not only have a legitimate chance for a repeat without Singler, but with him ESPN's Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has them as the #1 overall seed next season in the tournament.
(The only thing that might be haunting Singler's reasoning is having watched West Virginia's senior, Da'Sean Butler, take on a NBA draft altering injury during the last game of his collegiate career.)
3. The NBA is different from leagues like the NFL, as to how much money can be made. Draftees in the first round of the NFL will all be guaranteed at least 5 million dollars, easy. (In 2008, #1 overall pick Jake Long was guaranteed 30 million dollars, even if he didn't play a minute in a game.) Currently the #1 lottery pick John Wall is slated to make 4.3 million his first year. Singler, late first round would get around $850,000. The drop off in terms of dollars is much more significant for picks outside of the early lottery picks.
4. No lottery money, is better than no money at all. With the NBA on the verge of a lockout in 2011, the owners and player's union are in talks to get a new CBA agreed upon but is still far off. The economy has played a major factor in American sports and the NBA is no different. Having seen a decline in ticket sales and profits, organizations are attempting to save money by cutting players salaries with a more strict and lower salary cap.
So if Singler does decide to return to Duke for his senior season, the timing of this lockout will directly affect his earnings for the following season after the 2011 draft. During the '98-'99 NBA lockout, the resolution for rookie players was a strict pay scale ceiling that was introduced depending on how early the players were selected in the prior draft.
Kyle Singler is a talented and smart basketball player and there is no doubt that he will be playing in the NBA in the future. Whether it is this season or the next, depending on the negotiations for the lockout, it will be something to watch.
Only Singler knows whats best for him and what he will do regarding the draft, but he has said that he will announce his decision in the upcoming days.