AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Kyle Singler is one of the more intriguing young players the Pistons have.
At 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, Singler is a pretty big shooting guard. But really, that’s just where he is listed in the starting lineup. With that size, he can play more than one position.
That versatility was on full display Monday night at the Palace against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Singler had 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. It was his first career double-double. The only category he did not register in was turnovers as he did not have one, joining Tayshaun Prince as the only starters without one.
While point guard Brandon Knight made the Pistons go with his offense and defense, Singler was doing things all over the court as the Pistons won their third straight home game, 108-101.
“Kyle, I thought was outstanding, played a very complete game,” coach Lawrence Frank said. “Defensively was very, very solid. Ran the floor extremely well, passed the ball well, rebounding, very complete game. You look at what he did, final stat line of 16, 10 and 5, that’s pretty good.”
Of course, the rookie downplayed his rebounding prowess.
“I got a lot of easy ones, I gotta admit,” Singler said. “I was just around the basketball, just around the hoop. I would say four or five of them just landed in my lap. I’ll take them.”
Singler will also take the assists, one of which was an impressive cross-court bounce pass in the first quarter, resulting in an easy layup for Prince.
When asked after the game if that pass was Magic Johnson-esque, Frank had a quick answer.
“Settle down,” Frank said, deadpan, before adding, “No, it was a really good pass he threw.”
Singler admitted that those kinds of plays are fun.
“It’s not a lot of times where you can make a really good pass like that,” Singler said. “I just got the ball (to) Tayshaun, running the court. I just felt like I could thread the needle and I got it to him.”
It might be just a coincidence, but since Rodney Stuckey suggested that Singler should replace him in the starting lineup, the Pistons are 4-3.
Singler is shooting 53 percent from the field, 47 percent from 3-point range and 77 percent from the free-throw line.
“That’s one guy that really plays off instincts,” Knight said. “A lot of guys think the game through a lot and really try to think a lot. He just goes out and plays hard and I think that’s one of the things that definitely helps our team when a guy just comes in, plays agenda-free basketball and just plays as hard as he possibly can and really has his heart in the right place as far as getting the team a win.”
Just because Singler is a smart, instinctive player, don’t believe that he’s less of an athlete. He’s impressed Knight with some of the things he does on the floor.
“How well he shoots the basketball. He’s very efficient,” Knight said. “Something else that he does really well, he runs the floor as well as anybody that I ever played with so he opens up a lot of stuff not only for himself but for the rest of us when we’re in transition.”
Singler isn’t going to put up a stat line like Monday’s every game but he’s making the transition to the NBA seem reasonable, if not easy.
At 24, he’s actually older than Knight and Greg Monroe and has some professional experience under his belt.
Singler spent last season in Spain with CB Lucentum Alicante and Real Madrid, helping Real Madrid reach the Spanish League championship finals.
Before that, he played four years for coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, considered one of the best college basketball programs in the country.
At Duke, Singler created a couple of videos demonstrating his creative shooting that went viral. In that same spirit, the Pistons, who are now calling Singler “Bucket Man,” made a new one all around Detroit. (http://www.nba.com/pistons/video/2012/11/21/OffTheCourtBucketsmp4-2300674).
That’s all in fun, but Singler is really all about winning.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to do well and take advantage of things that are given to me, but I definitely play for the team,” Singler said. “It’s just my style of basketball. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at.”