When the Detroit Pistons drafted Kyle Singler, many doubted whether the 'tweener could hold an NBA position. Was he a backup small forward or a backup power forward?

When the Detroit Pistons drafted Kyle Singler, many doubted whether the 'tweener could hold an NBA position. Was he a backup small forward or a backup power forward?

Turns out he's a starting shooting guard — and a darn good one.

Using win shares, a decent measure of a player's contributions, Portland's Damian Lillard leads all rookies. No. 2 and No. 3? Singler, a former South Medford standout, and Andre Drummond. To call the Pistons' first-year players pleasant surprises would be an understatement. They've been so good, they have a chance to give Detroit multiple all-rookie first-team players for the first time since Isiah Thomas and Kelly Tripucka in 1981-82.

With Drummond, the main question is: when? Nobody doubted Drummond's potential. Many questioned how quickly he could reach it or whether he would get there. But nearly everyone could at least imagine a day when Drummond was a significant contributor. Possessing a 6-foot-10, 270-pound frame and incredible athleticism will do that.

But with Singler, the main question: how? Or more accurately: how in the world?

It can be tough to articulate exactly what Singler does so well, but while we're trying to describe it, he's turning around the Pistons' season (from historically bad to regularly bad, but still).

In the 413 minutes Singler has played, the Pistons have outscored opponents by 25 points.

In the 355 minutes Singler has been on the been on the bench, opponents have outscored the Pistons by 62 points.

Dare I say Singler has become more intriguing than the high-flying Drummond, simply because it's so difficult to grasp how an ordinarily athletic rookie playing out of position can make such a positive impact?

Singler, with or without the ball, is constantly doing something to help his team score on each possession. That's really valuable in a league with a shot clock and on a team with so many players prone to dribbling the life out of the offense.

Most assume Singler was inserted into the starting lineup to give the Pistons some much-needed floor spacing, but his 46 percent shooting on 3-pointers is just the start. He also has been one of the league's best finishers at the rim, and he has shown a quality mid-range game. He truly makes opponents account for him everywhere on the court, and that has been a boon to his teammates.

But it's more than just shooting that sets Singler apart.

Sometimes, he passes to an open teammate. Sometimes, he dribbles to draw in the defense. Sometimes, he cuts to open a passing lane.

Almost always, he's putting the Pistons in a better position offensively.

When Singler plays, the Pistons' offense is equivalent of ninth-best in the league, according to nba.com/stats. When he sits, Detroit's offensive is the equivalent of 27th. Those numbers can be misleading because they, obviously, depend on which players share the court with Singler, but because he has spent significant time with both the starting lineup and reserves, these figures are as reliable as can be so early in the season.

A key reason Singler has been so successful can be found in his college stats, specifically the the nearly 35 minutes per game he played during his senior season at Duke. That ranked 12th among all NCAA players who would be drafted that year, and one of the few ahead of him was Brandon Knight. It was clear Knight's heavy workload at Kentucky helped him handle starter's minutes last season, and Singler also is seeing a positive effect, though in a slightly different way.

Playing fewer than 26 minutes per game with the Pistons, Singler works like he has plenty of extra energy to burn. That's why he's capable of doing some sort of positive action at what seems like a nonstop clip — he doesn't play enough for such an effort to tire him out.

That especially shows in transition, where Singler is the NBA's second-most efficient scorer, according to Synergy. Let me repeat: Kyle Singler has been the NBA's second-most efficient transition scorer.

I thought it would take awhile to figure out what Drummond could do in the NBA, and he's certainly not a finished product providing a dependable contribution each game. But Singler is the Pistons' most exciting enigma so far.

Maybe we should just get past the "how?" with Singler and move on to the "what?" — as in "What's next?" I can't wait to find out.