Chris Singleton: The Next James Posey?

Coming out of college, Chris Singleton has been compared to just about every great perimeter defender of the past decade, from Shane Battier to Bruce Bowen. Everyone has different ideas of which lockdown guy would be the best one to emulate, but for me, the clear choice is James Posey. Both players were taken with the 18th overall pick in the draft. They also both entered similar situations, joining young, defensively deficient teams.

With that in mind, I decided to take a look at each player's stats for their rookie year to get a better idea of how Singleton stacks up with the player he should be emulating. Thanks to Basketball-Reference, you can compare their stats against one another right here. A few observations after the jump.

  • The gap between Posey and Singleton in three-point shooting isn't as wide as it might look. Posey shot 37.3 percent from deep his rookie year, compared to Singleton who's making just 29.4 percent so far. However, after that season, Posey's shooting numbers plummeted, as chronicled by Sports Illustrated here. The next three seasons, Posey shot 30 percent, 28.3 percent and 30.6 percent, much more in line with Singleton's percentage so far this season. Posey's struggles went hand in hand with Denver's decline that ultimately led to the beginning of the Carmelo Anthony era.

    What does this tell us? You're only as good as your supporting cast. If Chris Singleton was with a more efficient offense where he could get better open looks, there's no reason to think he couldn't be shooting as well as Posey did his rookie year. If you're still not sold, remember that they both shot 36 percent from deep during their final season in college.
  • Singleton has a long way to go to contribute in other ways offensively like Posey did. While Posey didn't have much besides his three-point shot, he was able to get to the line more and make more of those shots than Singleton. Plus, Posey generated more assists. That said, Singleton is doing a better job of limiting himself to high-efficiency shots than Posey did at the start of his career. In turn, that allows him to keep his turnover numbers down, which is always nice.
  • While it's hard to analyze a whole lot defensively, Singleton looks promising on the defensive end. A lot of the advanced defensive metrics we have nowadays weren't available in Posey's rookie season, but we do know that on the whole, Posey held his own. The Nuggets had the same defensive rating with him on the court as they did off the court. That might sound average at first, but it's very few rookies avoid being defensive liabilities during that first season, which makes Singleton's numbers even more encouraging. The Wizards have been a better team this season defensively when he's on the floor. But in fairness, if we give Singleton the benefit of the doubt on his shooting percentages, we also have to discredit some of his defensive impact because of the quality of everyone else on the roster.
  • To take the next step forward, Chris Singleton has to limit his fouling. Right now, Singleton is averaging 4.9 fouls per 36 minutes, compared to 3.6 for Posey. Singleton has to cut down on those fouls to get more playing time. As he gets a better feel for how fouls are called in the NBA, especially against top scorers, those fouls will come down, but if he can't get that number under 4 by the end of the season, you have to start getting worried about his ability to become a guy who can play big minutes in the future.
At the end of the day, I'd say that right now, it looks like Singleton will probably project as a lesser version of James Posey. Posey has shown to be a better shooter, have a little more balanced offensive game and effectively defend without getting foul-happy.
That said, its important to also remember Chris Singleton left college a year early, unlike Posey, so Singleton still has room for growth as the rest of the team develops. Whether he develops into a role playing starter or a good defensive sub largely depends on how the roster is built over the next few years, but either way, Singleton is well on his way to becoming the player everyone wants him to be here.
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