Singleton getting jump on Summer League

Singleton getting jump on Summer League
July 10, 2012, 9:44 pm
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Barring trade, injury or alien abduction, likely four players on the Wizards summer league roster will be with the team at the start of the 2012-13 season. Of that quartet, Chris Singleton arguably has the most to gain from a strong showing during the teams mini-camp and when the games turn real-ish in Las Vegas.Jan Veselys jumper may still be a work in progress, but as the sixth overall pick in last years draft, the team will provide room to grow. Bradley Beal is the flavor of the month and the guard with deep range addresses a major team need. As it current stands, Shelvin Mack remains the backup to starting point John Wall, a role that keeps him in the playing rotation.That leaves Singleton, who became the first Washington rookie to play in every regular season since Jeff Ruland during the 1981-82 season. The Florida State product started strong, appeared overwhelmed at times and struggled on both ends of the court as the season progressed. Now with Trevor Ariza in the mix, with Vesely and Trevor Booker potential poaching minutes at the 3-spot, Singleton could be the odd man out on most nights next season.
That is why this post-Tuesday morning practice quote from Randy Wittman is worth noting.Chris had the best practice Ive seen him have since he's been here, the Wizards coach said. All last year and these first three this year. I see a player that has a year under his belt and got some playing time and he's come out here and I'm very pleased with his effort.Asked why his coach gushed about his latest practice, Singleton said, "I just have a lot to prove. Last year I felt like I underachieved. This year Im just going out there and just playing."Thrust into the starting lineupin the eighth game of his initial professional campaign after the miniest of NBA offseasons, Singleton averaged 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals. Though some his pre and post All-Star stats were comparable, Singletons shot disappeared during the middle of the season, hitting only 29 of his attempts during February. That is what Singleton meant by underachieving.Noted as defensive-minded prospect coming out of college, the 6-foot-8 forward was on the receiving of some high-scoring nights by some of the games elite small forwards like Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce.Still, Wittman dismissed the idea that Singleton lost confidence at times last season. Thats not to say playing time is necessarily there for him either just because the 22-year-old is part of the Wizards youthful brigade.Its got to become a situation where your playing time is rewarded, and its not just because I'm a young guy I know I'm going to play, Wittman said. Sometimes I worry about that when you're in situations with a lot of young guys that in their mind say 'I know I'm going to play' I read it in the paper every day I hear it, management, ownership 'young guys are going to play'. Now, is your effort always going to be at the maximum level. Thats where I do a little bit of worrying.This brings us back to the recent deal that brought Ariza, another defensive-oriented forward, and Emeka Okafor to Washington. On the surface, adding two established veterans could push the green talent down the depth chart, especially with a playoff spot deemed the franchise goal this season. Wittman sees a competitive situation, one that ideally raises the daily focus for all involved.This isn't a bad situation for Chris or any of our young guys, said Wittman, before projecting his belief onto the rising talent. I've got to perform now, Ive got to earn those minutes, and if not, there's somebody else there coach is going to look at and say hey, go out there and see what you can do.