Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti has done many things right in his decade-long tenure with the Sonics/Thunder. He’s drafted extremely well, he’s parlayed assets into beneficial pieces, and he’s created and maintained a culture for a city that was new to owning a professional sports team. But for as much as Presti is viewed as a forward-thinker and someone that is ahead of the curve, one of his biggest slip-ups has been his inability to stockpile the SF/big wing position outside of Kevin Durant. While it hasn’t always been Presti’s fault (Perry Jones looked like a steal when he was drafted), his inability to get someone consistent behind Durant may prove to be extremely detrimental moving forward after Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors this offseason.
Two years ago, the Thunder were involved in a three team deal at the deadline that saw them basically obtain Singler, Enes Kanter, and DJ Augustin for Reggie Jackson and Kendrick Perkins. The Thunder finally thought they had solved their back-up SF situation with Singler, who in Detroit was a 38% 3-point shooter and a good wing/small ball 4 defender. They envisioned Singler to be the wing version of Nick Collison. They so believed this, that after the season they re-signed Singler to a 5 year/$25 million contract.
Then the season started and Singler, at one point, was the worst player in the league that was receiving any kind of playing time. His shot was off, his defense was substandard, his decision-making was questionable, and his confidence was shot. In the first month of the season, Singler shot 23.4% from the field, 20.7% from three, and 55.5% from the charity stripe. A combined shooting percentage under 100. For a wing to be shooting under 100 for his shooting percentages is abysmal. Singler eventually recovered enough to not be the worst player in the league, but never really found his footing with the team last season.
Where the Thunder once had one of the best SF’s/players in the game, they now have a cupboard that is devoid of any semblance of a complete basketball player at the SF position. Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t want to pile on to Singler, because, honestly, this is not the role he signed up for, nor is it the role the Thunder ever intended for him. But Durant’s departure created a gaping vacuum at the wing position that players like Andre Roberson, Josh Huestis, Alex Abrines, and Singler will have to try and fill. The Thunder have always had a mantra of “next man up”, but that becomes a scary proposition when you think of the season Singler had last year.2015-16 Statistics
68 GP, 14.4 mins, 3.4 pts, 2.1 rebs, 0.4asts, 0.4 stls, 0.1 blks, 38.9% FG, 30.9% 3pt FG, 65.9% FTBest-Case Scenario
There have been glimpses in the past that Singler could be a serviceable player, maybe even a high end role player and overall glue guy. But those visions have yet to manifest themselves while Singler has been in a Thunder uniform. The thing is, Singler isn’t being asked to do much. Hit an open shot, move the ball around, defend the wing. That’s about it. For as bad as he was last season, Singler still have the ability and opportunity to make up for that year long transgression.
With guards who have a penchant for getting in the lane, the best-case scenario for Singler would be for him to revert back to his Pistons form and be consistent from the outside. That’s what buried Singler last season: his inability to provide anything on the offensive end of the floor. If he can get back to shooting 35-38% from the 3-point line next season, it will make life that much easier for the likes of Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, and Cameron Payne.Worst-Case Scenario
There’s not really any lower that you can go from “worst player in the league” status. But with Durant gone, the worst-case scenario is for Singler to not improve any from the previous season. Last year, the Thunder could afford a bad Singler season because they had Kevin frickin’ Durant. This year, it’s more “all hands on deck”, and all those hands better come with their ‘A’ game.Percentage that he will be traded sometime this season:
10% – If Singler performs to his potential, then he’s on a value contract. If he doesn’t, then he’s grossly overpaid. Unfortunately for the Thunder, he’s being grossly overpaid at this point, with 2 more guaranteed seasons left on his contract past this season. The only way the Thunder are trading Singler is A) if he gets back to pre-Thunder Singler and builds up his trade value or B) he’s attached to another player to make salaries match.Singler’s Season Preview
There’s really nowhere for Singler to go from last season than up. Did he have a terrible season last year? Yes. Is this indicative of the player he has become or was it an anomalous season? We shall see. The hope is that Singler is not one of those players that only performs well when the stakes are at their lowest, like he did in Detroit when there was no expectation of those teams reaching the playoffs. But if that is the case, then we may be in for a Singler redemption season as the expectations for this team will be as low as they have been for a Thunder team in years.