Can Double-S play enough D?

Best Seat in the House column by Chris Graham
sportsdom@ntelos.net

sean1pic.gifI hate to agree with Jimmy Dykes, because that puts me in the category of a third-tier ESPN analyst, but he’s right about Sean Singletary.

Double-S doesn’t play enough D to make me think that he’s going to be on an NBA roster next year.

I thought it was nice of Gary Williams to suggest otherwise in his postgame presser last weekend at JPJ when he said that he thought #44 would have been a first-round NBA pick if he had come out last spring.

I mean, it was Sean’s last game in Charlottesville and all, and he did just knock Williams’ Terps off the bubble almost singlehandedly.

But seriously, and I don’t mean this to be demeaning to Sean at all, but if he played a lick of defense last year, he’d have been in the NBA this season.

Offensively, he’s Chris Paul. He gets in the lane at will, he’s strong enough to take bumps and get to the line with regularity, he has range to 27 feet.

Problem is, he’s slight. I know he’s listed at six feet even, but if he’s six feet, then I’m six-seven, and if I’m six-seven, I’m sitting on the bench in Iceland and coming in and hitting threes 10 minutes a night.

(I’m actually six-two. OK, six-one-and-three-quarters.)

So he’s probably closer to, I dunno, five-ten, maybe five-nine.

Which means he’s already starting at a disadvantage on D, considering how many NBA coaches like to post up their point guards when they have the opportunity to do so.

Think Chauncey Billups in the post against Singletary. Not pretty.

This all having been said, I don’t think the stigma that SS is going to have to overcome, as Dykes put it on the air tonight, that he is a gambler on defense as opposed to being anything resembling a lockdown defender, is necessarily a mission impossible.

Defense, to me, seems to be a reflection of one’s willingness to play defense, and willingness, and effort, can be turned on in an instant.

And one thing that I’ve thought about the critics of Sean’s defense, me included here, is that they might be overlooking what his role was on his last three UVa. teams.

He never really had an effective backup at the point in his career at Virginia, to put it mildly. Which meant that he had to be on the court as close to 40 minutes as was possible.

You can disagree with this if you want, but if you’re expected to carry 35, 36, 37 minutes a night through bouts with the flu, through hip injuries, through assorted bumps and bruises and knicks and everything else that happens in a long college-basketball season, you know you have to conserve your energy somewhere. And Sean couldn’t conserve himself on offense, because he for the most part was the offense, either directly through scoring or through setting the table for everybody else.

And so it seems to me that a guy with Sean’s physical talents – strength, quickness and the rest – can turn it on when he’s in a situation where he’s expected to do it all literally for his team, as I would expect to be the case in the NBA.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve come full circle just within this column about what Sean Singletary’s future is going to hold for him.

My first instinct is that he won’t be in the NBA next year, but I have made the argument that he should be.

The key to where he ends up is predraft. The camps, the individual workouts, will show GMs what Sean can or cannot do on the defensive end of the floor.

If he does well there, maybe Gary Williams is right, and Sean is a first-rounder with a bright future in the Association.

If he struggles as he did for four years at UVa., well, they pay good money in Europe.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.


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