Could Utah Jazz take a defensive guy like Chris Singleton?
Mike Terry, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Defense doesn't just win championships as the old sports cliche goes.
It will also help Chris Singleton earn millions of dollars in the NBA.
"People say that I'm the best defender in the nation, and I know I'm going to bring that off the bat," the Florida State small forward said moments after working out for the Utah Jazz Sunday morning.
"That no-quit mentality — that's what people need."
And when it comes to throwing wrenches in opponents' offense, the 6-foot-9 athlete believes he excels as a help defender and is confident in his one-on-one lock-down skills.
The Jazz are also aware of the defensive presence the lengthy and athletic Singleton brings to the court. Coach Tyrone Corbin and Walt Perrin, the team's vice president of player personnel, both had positive things to say about the two-time ACC defensive-team selection following Sunday's audition.
"As a team defensive player," Perrin said, "he's very good."
"He shows some signs of it," Corbin added, referring to Singleton's ability to shut down foes. "Chris did a good job of competing against all of the guys. Defense is one of the things we've got to get better at as individuals and as a group, so he did a good job of showing it."
The big question about a player who some experts have headed Utah's way is simply: But can he score?
Even Singleton, who averaged 13.1 points on 43.4 percent shooting for FSU last season, acknowledges that cloud hangs over his head heading into Thursday's draft.
"I've been working on shooting. That's probably the weakness I have, creating off the dribble and my shooting consistency," Singleton said. "Those are my negatives, so I've just been trying to prove them wrong."
Singleton's offense — overall and during Sunday's workout — got mixed reviews.
The 20-year-old thought he struggled. ("Everybody has their off days," he said.)
Corbin thought he showed potential. ("I think his offense is capable of getting better and capable of being able to get him on the floor now, and he will get better as time goes on.")
Perrin was impressed. ("We weren't sure about his shooting because his shooting percentage in college — it wasn't bad, but it wasn't outstanding. But he shot it well.")
On the other hand, fellow workout participant Marcus Morris, a combo forward from Kansas who's projected to be a lottery pick, thought Singleton's offense is a sweet spirit compared to his defense and effort.
"He's OK offensively. He can really guard because he's long, kind of big — so he definitely can guard. But offensively he's not very talented," Morris said. "He's just a do-the-intangibles guy that just hangs his hat on playing defense and playing hard."
But his offensive flaws might be fixable, which could make Singleton a very attractive option if he remains available when the Jazz go to pick at No. 12. That's especially true because small forward is a position in flux for Utah, considering the unknown destinations of Andrei Kirilenko and C.J. Miles.
And try to find a coach that doesn't like a guy who likes playing defense — something Singleton credits his Florida State coaches for instilling into him.
"Defense will be one of the things that get him on the floor and (his) offense have to be capable to keep him on the floor," Corbin said. "And I think he did a good job of showing both of those."
Perrin said Singleton wouldn't likely have offensive plays called for him at the beginning of his NBA career, but he is confident the player can hit open shots if the ball comes his way.
Though they aren't about to tip their hand, the Jazz seemed impressed by the group of forwards in town Sunday.
Corbin called soon-to-be 19-year-old Tobias Harris, a 6-8 small forward from Tennessee, a "really smart player for his age." The coach also credited the second-team All-SEC player (as a freshman) for having strong ballhandling and offensive rebounding skills. Making the strong youngster even more intriguing, Corbin added, "He has a great body for a young guy."
The 6-9 Morris, whose twin Markieff previously worked out for the Jazz, is projected to be gone by the time the No. 12 pick comes around. But Corbin likes the versatile forward because his physicality allows him to bump defenders and score. Plus, the coach added, "Defensively, he can really get into guys."
The Jazz also worked out UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt, Texas' Jordan Hamilton and Illinois-Chicago's Paul Carter (his second workout in Utah in the past week).
"They all worked really hard," Corbin said. "I thought they had a good workout. They competed against each other."
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