Chris Singleton offered a hint of what he plans to provide the Wizards when he worked out two weeks ago with Andray Blatche and Hamady Ndiaye at Columbia Gym in Clarksville.
On one end of the floor, Singleton refused to offer any ground to Blatche in the post, bumping him, until he forced Blatche to force up a turnaround hook shot that Singleton blocked. On the other end, he brought the ball up the floor and buried a jumper over Ndiaye’s long right arm.
Singleton entered the draft with a solid reputation as a staunch defender, but he said he has been working hard this offseason to make sure he has a more consistent jumper. Though he shot 37 percent from beyond the three-point line in his junior season at Florida State, Singleton understands that he doesn’t have the best reputation as an offensive player.
“They said I can’t shoot, so I really take that on my shoulders and I’m going to try to show everybody I can. My coaches know I can. My team is behind me. So everybody else can go somewhere,” Singleton said recently. “Off the bat, everybody knows me for defense. So I have to come out and focus on that first and I got to make sure I’m not a liability for my team. When they pass, I’ve got to make the best of it and try to score if I get a chance.”
Since the Wizards drafted him 18th overall in June, Singleton has been alternating workouts between Los Angeles and Tallahassee, where he is also taking online courses at Florida State to complete his degree in social science with a minor in business. He has worked out with several of his teammates at UCLA, where pickup games have included JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. Going up against other pros gave him confidence that he can compete at the NBA level.
“I can play with them,” Singleton said, when asked what he learned through those five-on-five games. “I feel like it’s my time and I finally have a chance to pursue a dream.”
His dream has been delayed by the lockout, but Singleton has tried to stay occupied and competitive. He participated last week in Jimmer Fredette’s rookie all-star game, which reportedly netted him $10,000. Singleton scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds, blocked a shot, got a steal and wowed the crowd in Provo, Utah, with his hustle and boundless energy (He also got a taste of Jimmermania, writing in a text message, “it’s crazy”).
“Everybody is worried,” Singleton said of the lockout. “It’s our job. So of course, I’m worried like everybody else. We’re still going to go out there, I’m going to train to get better and whenever the time comes, whether it’s here or overseas, I’m going to show everybody.”
During his workouts with Blatche and Ndiaye, Singleton was an intense competitor, wrestling for loose balls along the baseline, fighting for position in the low post and even angrily disputing a foul call by Blatche. At 6-feet-9, Singleton can play either forward position and his willingness to defend four positions on the floor will give him the chance to get a lot of minutes in his first year.
He can certainly provide an added layer of toughness to a team that has worked hard to address that need by also selecting Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker two drafts ago. “I come from Atlanta, I don’t back down from anybody. So if you come at me, I’m coming at you. That’s all it is. Let the best man win,” Singleton said. “I’m trying to fit in. There are spots on my team and I know I have to earn my spot. I’m trying to make sure everybody knows I’m there.”
Singleton remains motivated by his draft night slide and is anxious to show the 16 teams that passed on him that they made a mistake. “That’s still in me,” he said. “That’s what’s pushing me so far. I know if there is a season, next season, whatever happens, I’m going to show everybody my ability.”