When NBA players discuss versatility, it’s normally in reference to playing several positions or scoring from a variety of spots on the court. In Chris Singleton’s case, it means the skill to defend every position, and that’s exactly why the Washington Wizards selected the forward with the 18th pick in the first round of the NBA draft.
Singleton’s defensive prowess was well documented in college at Florida State, where he was the unanimous ACC defensive player of the year this past season. Singleton twice was a first-team all-defensive selection in the ACC and was among the primary reasons the Seminoles qualified for the NCAA tournament three years in a row, matching a school record.
Now his new teammates are contending with Singleton during training camp, where Coach Flip Saunders has been comfortable asking him to defend in both the back and front courts.
“He’s the one guy that has the ability to guard pretty much anybody,” Saunders aid. “He can guard ones, twos, threes, fours, fives. He can pretty much go guard anybody.”
So far in camp, Singleton, at 6 feet 9, has matched up with just about every starter, and that includes 7-foot center JaVale McGee. Singleton drew McGee during practice the past two days, and it’s a challenge he’s welcomed.
Singleton hasn’t faced point guard John Wall yet, but it’s not because he’s ducking last year’s No. 1 overall pick around whom the Wizards are constructing their team.
“I haven’t really gone up against John just because we always have a one on the court,” Singleton said. “If got switched on him, I’m not going to back down from him.”
While defense remains Singleton’s top priority, he also admitted he needs to improve offensively. He’s spent time in training camp honing that part of his game, and it’s slowly beginning to show on the court.
It’s also helped that forward Andray Blatche has been giving Singleton pointers in that regard. Blatche was the Wizards’ second leading scorer last season among the regular players, averaging 16.8 points per game.
“All the things [Blatche] can do in the post, he’s one heck of a scorer,” Singleton said. “I’ve been trying to put that in my game. Slowly it’s coming along. It’s going to take awhile, but I’m going to get there.”