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  • BASKETBALL

    'Perfect fit'

    Singler looking forward to new career in Detroit and challenges ahead in NBA
  • Kyle Singler has had one week to let it sink in that he is a member of the Detroit Pistons — or rather will be once the NBA's lockout is lifted — and what a week it has been.
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    • DETROIT PISTONS
      RECAP: Finished fourth in the Eastern Conference's Central Division with a 30-52 record, marking the second straight season Detroit has missed the NBA playoffs.
      • PAST: The Pistons won NBA...
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      DETROIT PISTONS
      RECAP: Finished fourth in the Eastern Conference's Central Division with a 30-52 record, marking the second straight season Detroit has missed the NBA playoffs.

      • PAST: The Pistons won NBA championships in 1989, 1990 and 2004 and lost in the NBA finals in 2005. Detroit also advanced as far as the Eastern Conference finals from 2006-08.
      • PRESENT: Detroit appears intent on putting a team on the floor that more closely connects to the blue-collar fans it represents, with high-character and high-energy players who are tough and willing to put it all on the line.
  • Kyle Singler has had one week to let it sink in that he is a member of the Detroit Pistons — or rather will be once the NBA's lockout is lifted — and what a week it has been.
    First, he was drafted a little lower than he had hoped as the No. 3 pick of the second round last Thursday night.
    Second, he went to a team that gave him little indication they had him in their sights.
    The ensuing few days provided a whirlwind of activity as Singler and his immediate family, sans younger brother E.J. Singler, ventured out of Medford to see what the Detroit area — and organization — was all about.
    And, after a couple days of camping outside Klamath Falls, the Duke University graduate returned refreshed and ready to share exactly why he's pleased to be on the path he is today.
    "It was a place I didn't expect to end up," Singler said Thursday at Kids Unlimited, "but going there and visiting (Detroit), I really think it's going to be a great fit. The whole town and kind of their blue-collar culture, I think I fit in perfect."
    Flanked by his parents Ed and Kris Singler and older sister Katen, the 2007 South Medford High graduate said the trip allowed everyone to view the next step in his life as not only full of positives, but one that almost seemed pre-destined by fate.
    Detroit president of basketball operations Joe Dumars has emphasized the drafting of Singler at No. 33 overall, along with No. 8 pick Brandon Knight and No. 52 pick Vernon Macklin, signals an intended return to the system that made the Pistons so successful when Detroit's "Bad Boys" secured NBA championships in 1989 and '90.
    While some have knocked Singler's overall athleticism, none have questioned his uncanny feel for the game of basketball and the hard-nosed way in which he plays. Such work ethic was commonplace during Dumars' heyday as a player but a characteristic the Pistons have been lacking in recent years.
    "From what I've heard, the ownership really wants to get back to the 'Bad Boys' days and I think (new owner Tom Gores) is willing to spend money to do that," said Singler. "I was really excited when I got back there and talked with Joe Dumars and met with some of the organization people. I feel like everyone in the organization really cares a lot, and the players really respect (Dumars)."
    One thing the Singlers especially appreciated was how much of a role the Pistons believe he can play for the team as a 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward who can stretch the floor with his perimeter shot and also supplies a host of winning intangibles.
    "The people we met were great and they all seem very excited about Kyle," said Ed Singler.
    Dumars praised the rookie group's talent first and foremost and then noted how well their character fits the Pistons' vision for the future during an introductory news conference last Saturday. His belief that Detroit got the steals of the draft in Knight, Singler and Macklin were echoed by statements made by the team's personnel director George David.
    "When I first saw Singler as a freshman at Duke, I said he's going to go five to 15 in any draft — a lottery pick," David said in an article by Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. "He's a talented small forward. We spent a ton of time on him. He's a guy we honestly, in no way, shape or form, thought was going to be there at 33. That was as much of a home run for us at 33 as Brandon was at eight."
    "Kyle is all substance," David added. "What you see is what you're going to get, but what you see is really good. He's very good at doing what he does. He's a tough, tough, tough kid. Everything about his core is what we're about."
    Singler said such praise is certainly flattering and only serves to motivate him toward his main goal as he enters the NBA.
    "My whole thing is trying to win and help them get back to where they were," said the 23-year-old forward.
    It's a sentiment he had no idea would be his focus heading into last week's draft. As someone projected to go somewhere in the 20s during the first round, he had many suitors that believed he would be a good fit for their franchise. There was no wish-list on where he'd be drafted, although Singler was slightly taken aback by not going in the first round.
    "After the first round went by I was a little disappointed but I didn't really put too much pressure on myself with that," he said. "I just really wanted to enjoy the moment and kind of let fate take care of itself, and I got picked by Detroit for a reason."
    Singler said he interviewed with the Pistons during the NBA pre-draft camp in Chicago, but that was one of many and there was never a follow-up personal workout. Singler's first indication that the Pistons valued his abilities was when his agent sent a text a couple picks prior to his selection that Detroit was going to take him at No. 33.
    "I don't think any of us thought I would be there by then so there wasn't as much talk with them as some of the other teams," he added.
    His feelings now on the Pistons?
    "I'm just really looking forward to joining them and jumping right into it and seeing what happens," said Singler.
    "I didn't really know Brandon or Vernon that well but getting back there (to Detroit) and talking to them," he added, "they share the same qualities as me and they're on the same page as I am. I think our personalities mesh very well, and with some of the younger guys that they have, I think we'll have a good core of people to build from to go with some of the older guys."
    Those building blocks will have to wait a while, however, thanks to the NBA imposing a lockout at 12:01 a.m. today. This is the NBA's first work stoppage since 1998, when the lockout carried into the regular season and resulted in a 50-game season.
    "There's a little concern because hopefully it doesn't last the whole year," Singler said of the lockout. "Kinda from what I've heard, I don't think it will last more than a couple months. All I can do is workout and just get ready for the coming season. You have to approach it like there really isn't a lockout."
    The biggest stumbling block is Singler and the Pistons cannot have any dealings until the lockout is lifted, meaning he won't be able to negotiate a contract with the team, utilize its facilities or talk with coaches or staff members until a collective bargaining agreement is reached between the NBA owners and the players union.
    "Ideally you want to workout with your teammates and get familiar with them but I think basketball is something you can work on your game by yourself," said Singler, who spoke with Dumars Thursday afternoon to glean his advice on what to do during this gray period. "It's not like football where you have to have seven guys out there, but in an ideal situation you do want to be with your team."
    Singler said he plans to remain in Southern Oregon until taking a trip next week to London — the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 awaits, of course — and then will resume his NBA preparations. He also unveiled his new website (kylesingler.com) on Thursday.
    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or email khenry@mailtribune.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Kris_Henry
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