One of the final remnants from the Washington Wizards‘ forgettable 2011 draft class, Chris Singleton suffered a fracture in his foot this pastSeptember, extinguishing his chance to make a case during training camp for the kind of quality playing time he hadn’t enjoyed since his rookie season, when he took over the starting small forward spot and averaged 4.6 points.
At Florida State, Singleton twice earned the ACC defensive player of the year award and made well more than 40 percent of his three-point attempts, leading the Wizards to snatch him up with the 18th overall pick. But since then, Washington acquired Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster, with Ariza serving as the defensive and three-point threat and Webster also able to knock down the deep ball. And when Otto Porter’s selection brought another small forward into the mix, it came as no surprise when the Wizards declined to pick up Singleton’s fourth-year, $2.5 million option in October.
Despite the lack of minutes at small forward, Singleton never bought into the Wizards’ notion to mold him into a power forward. Singleton’s shooting ability brought the potential to make him a stretch forward, but rather than have him set up for three-pointers, the Wizards coaches pushed him to develop his mid-range game in the mold of Nene or Drew Gooden.
The process proved futile, as Singleton shot just 37.1 percent (46-for-124) from the mid-range in his second year, with that number dropping to 30.4 percent (7-for-23) in 25 appearances this past season.
“We had a healthier Nene at the start of the year than the year before that, and then prior to trading Jan [Vesely], you had Jan and [Trevor Booker] and [Singleton] in between a three and a four,” Wizards Coach Randy Witman said. “I’m sure he wanted to play, but that opportunity never presented itself for the minutes.”
As a result, players such as Trevor Booker, Al Harrington, Kevin Seraphin were frequently called upon before Singleton. Not until Nene and Seraphin went down because of knee injuries in late February did Singleton get an opportunity, tallying 17 points and 14 rebounds across two games. But with the signing of Gooden, Singleton was soon sent back to the end of the bench, playing mostly garbage time minutes in eight of the team’s final 35 games.
The Wizards likely won’t look to bring back Singleton during free agency this summer, especially with more money needed in the pursuit of Ariza and Marcin Gortat. Whether Singleton can catch on with another NBA team depends on how both he and the rest of the league view his skillset. Singleton’s length grants him the potential to be a viable NBA defender who can also knock down perimeter shots, but as a 6-foot-9 tweener fresh off a tumultuous first three seasons in the league, he faces an uphill battle in proving his mettle as a rotation player.