What the Detroit Pistons have liked about Kyle Singler from the start is the same thing that has made him something of a de facto sixth starter recently, and the same thing that makes him understand that even that role could be fleeting. It's his unmitigated drive, and his unflinching belief that he'll always be used to better the team because the team is better with him. Asked about the impact of the five-day break the Pistons are working through, gym-rat Singler said, "It doesn't seem that long," with his shirt soaked and perspiration dripping heavily off his whiskers. When the Pistons host the Utah Jazz Friday in former University of Michigan standout Trey Burke's return, they'll do it with what appears destined to be sustained use of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith in a two-position rotation. Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks hasn't committed to it, but the Pistons won two games last weekend that way, and even if some of that was lineup-driven -- in particular when Phoenix went small in Saturday's second half -- there is little question Detroit has been better with one of the trio on the bench. The other factor in that transition is Cheeks' absolute comfort with Singler on the floor, one of few characteristics the first-year head coach shares with predecessor Lawrence Frank. "I have no reservation playing Kyle in any game and in any situation," Cheeks said. As the Pistons trend toward playing Drummond, Monroe and Smith in interchangeable duos at power forward and center, the beneficiary is Singler, the second-year small forward from Duke. Yet Singler himself advocates for the big-three front line in the long term. "I think they do play well together, especially in practice," he said. "I just don't know what it is in the games that creates them to not have the chemistry that we do see in practice. It's weird. So maybe it's just more time on the court that they need to play together." As Cheeks ponders how to divvy the big three without dividing them, one consideration may be to bring on Singler earlier in the first and/or third quarters, when he often is the first substitute to enter the game. Again, Cheeks practiced his well-used art of not painting himself into that corner. "Some of it depends on how they're playing," Cheeks said. "I don't necessarily want to go into a game and say I'm going to bring Kyle in two minutes earlier if I've got three guys out there playing really well. I don't want to do that. I don't want to pre-empt myself before it actually happens." Understandable -- as is the fact that none of these considerations happens without Singler's elevated play spurring it. Singler earned his way into the starting lineup last year at shooting guard, then shifted to his natural position after the Tayshaun Prince trade. He started 74 games as a rookie.
Kyle Singler's steadying influence greases Pistons' front-line evolution
Michigan Live | Jan 16