Is Chris Singleton the Defensive Complement to Propel Wizards to Playoffs?

Nate HammeContributor INovember 10, 2011

Singleton was regarded by many as the best perimeter defender in college last season
Singleton was regarded by many as the best perimeter defender in college last seasonJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chris Singleton has been compared to a number of NBA players—and those comparisons are generally generous in nature.

The first I ever heard was Ron Artest, due to Singleton’s strength and defending prowess, as well as his underdeveloped offensive game at this point in his career. So, in the mold of long, athletic swingmen, it’s not surprising he’s also been mentioned with the likes of Josh Smith, Rudy Gay and Gerald Wallace.

Looking at how well these current NBA players have fared gives the Washington Wizards cause for cautious optimism when projecting Singleton’s impact in the league. He will come in and almost immediately be the Wizards strongest defender, someone who has all the tools to be a lock-down guy on the perimeter but also knows where to be in his rotations.

When Singleton came back to play in the NCAA Tournament after missing most of the season with a broken foot, you knew he was a gamer.

When he promised to “mark off all the teams that passed” on him in the draft, it became clear he had a chip on his shoulder that could inspire him to greatness.

But what can we really expect from the 6’9”, 230-pound former Seminole this season? And will it be enough to push the Wizards into a playoff spot—that is, if there is a season this year at all?

Recent history suggests not. Artest landed on a Bulls team that also got hold of Elton Brand in the same post-lockout draft—similar to the Wizards who landed another lottery pick in Jan Vesely. They went on to win 17 games.

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 23:  Chris Singleton from Florida State greets NBA Commissioner David Stern  after he was selected #18 overall by the Washington Wizards in the fduring the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Josh Smith won 13 games in his rookie season; Rudy Gay won 22.

The only guy who made the playoffs in his first season was Gerald Wallace, who was an impressive role player and showed promise in some playoff performances in Sacramento. But that team never made it over their proverbial “hump”—the Western Conference Finals.

Considering Wallace was the only player drafted after Singleton’s slot, one might question whether he’s likely to make a notable impact. The Wizards had more problems than just at small forward, where Singleton will likely spend most of his time, and he will have to compete with Vesely, Rashard Lewis and Trevor Booker for minutes at that position.

But one other comparative comes to mind: Andre Iguodala.

While Iggy was not known as a lock-down defender when he came in to the league (more as an uber-athletic dunker), he has emphasized improving on that part of his game and is regarded as one of the top perimeter defenders in the league. He was also comparably poor as an outside shooter, hitting less than 30 percent of his college three-pointers.

Singleton will join a team with John Wall leading them at point, while Iguodala joined Allen Iverson, who was still an All-Star level talent at the time. He had modest totals in that season, but with a star PG was able to help the Sixers taste the playoffs in his first season after missing it the previous year.

The Wizards were dreadful on defense last year, in part because they were turnover prone which led to easy transition buckets but also because they lacked a defensive stopper on the wing. If JaVale McGee can become not just a good defender on the stat sheet—where he will be near the league lead in blocks despite also being near the top in boneheaded coverage and help assignments—the Wizards will have an inside/outside presence, with Wall hopefully able to improve his defense as well.

Wall, Singleton and McGee could form an impressive defensive trio with a bit of seasoning and continued coaching. But in all likelihood we will only see Singleton for 15-20 minutes a game, considering the guys he will be battling for PT. An improved jump-shot will help him steal more minutes from guys who by all accounts are going to be ahead of him come the start of the season (again, hopefully there is one).

I expect Singleton to make an impact and be counted on consistently for defense against teams with strong wing players. But whether he can propel the team into the playoffs in limited minutes is questionable at best, and probably a factor of how he’s improved his game in other ways since having his name called in June’s NBA draft.

What do you think? What kind of stat line will C-Sing put up this season? How many minutes will he play? Will he be effective immediately against some of the games bigger talents? Comments welcome, and appreciated.