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Singleton implementing aggressive approach

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Singleton implementing aggressive approach

Nobody needs to tell Chris Singleton the transition from college to the professional basketball ranks can be a rocky one. Peruse footage from his nightly battles last season against NBA heavyweights for the confidence-shaking proof.

The small forward with a reputation for defense during his days at Florida State went from being an ACC stalwart to an NBA rookie tasked with guarding the likes of point-producing icons Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce. The pair of NBA All-Stars and scores of other league veterans took no pity on the new guy thrust into the starting lineup earlier than desired by the rebuilding and injury-plagued Wizards.

Seven games into last season, Washington hosted Anthony and the Knicks. The Olympian and noted scoring machine torched the locals for 37 points in a winning effort including the go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing seconds. Much of Anthony's net-singeing exploits came at Singleton's expense.

After that abrupt "Welcome to the NBA" moment, Singleton tangled with Pierce. Without Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen in the lineup, the future Hall of Famer assertively tallied 34 points and 10 assists while directing the Celtics to a victory in Washington. Once again, it was Singleton finding himself on the wrong end of an NBA superstar looking to do harm.

"This is the NBA. I should have known that coming in," Singleton said. "I didn't know they were going to come at me like they did. I think they looked before the game and were like "who's the new kid," saw the "R" besides my name. They brought everything at me.

"I'm glad they did that. I'm ready for whatever."

As it turns out, the next "whatever" involves a battle for playing in a suddenly crowded Wizards frontcourt, particularly at the small forward position. Singleton started 51 games in that spot last season and became the first Washington rookie in 20 seasons to play every regular season game. Despite putting up credible numbers - 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc - Singleton harshly graded his first season a "D" shortly before heading off for the summer.

Now, after playing with the Wizards entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, training and taking classes at Florida State, Singleton is ready to prove lessons have been learned.

"I worked on my shot, being a lot more aggressive. That's one thing I tried to showcase in summer league. Every time I step on the court, I try to be the most aggressive player on the court," said the 6-foot-9 Singleton, who described is training camp-ready physique as "more lean now, more fit. I'm still strong like I was last year."

In the rising second-year forward's mind, being more aggressive means not shying away from ball handling duties, that means "I can't let people drive past me."

It also means gearing up for competition on the wing where the Wizards added likely starter Trevor Ariza and 3-point threat Martell Webster. Washington also retained free agent swingman Cartier Martin.

"I embrace it," Singleton said of the preseason tussle for minutes. "The front office did what they said they would, they brought in more players. We're deep at a lot of positions. I think that's going to be good for us, everybody is going to leave everything on the court."

Fellow second-year players Jan Vesely and Shelvin Mack are in similar spots. This is how the pro life works. Singleton knows this now. He's ready to show the kid is wide-eyed no more.

"You got to kill or be killed in this league," said the metaphorically speaking Singleton. "There are only like 400 (NBA players) each year and its constantly rotating, 60 more each year. You have to go out there and play. I think I'm ready to do that."

Now he just has to beat out others on his own team for that opportunity.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Draft prospect profiles on Moe Wagner, Michael Porter, Jr., Grayson Allen and more

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Draft prospect profiles on Moe Wagner, Michael Porter, Jr., Grayson Allen and more

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by Nick Ashooh and Stefon Marquis to talk NBA Draft. 

They broke down five prospects and their potential fit with the Wizards: Moe Wagner of Michigan, Michael Porter, Jr. of Missouri, Grayson Allen of Duke, Collin Sexton of Alabama and Omari Spellman of Villanova.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

MORE WIZARDS COVERAGE:

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

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USA TODAY Sports

Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

With word out that Kawhi Leonard wants a trade from the Spurs, teams are lining up with offers to San Antonio and one of the NBA’s best teams has reportedly already made a call.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs about a potential Leonard trade, according to Cleveland.com. Terry Pluto wrote on Sunday that multiple teams have done the same. That is to expected, of course, as Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He's a two-time defensive player of the year and he's only 26.

Let's look at Cleveland as a potential destination. It should first be noted that it's questionable whether they have enough to land a player of Leonard's caliber. They have the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but it may take a lot more than that to get Leonard.

They also have Kevin Love, who is an All-Star still in his prime. But if they gave him up, they would then need to seek more help to surround Leonard and LeBron James, if James decides to stay. Though James and Leonard are both top-five players in the NBA, they still likely wouldn't be able to beat the Warriors unless they had another running mate. Those two plus Love and then you're talking.

Whether the Cavs have the goods to land Leonard or not, it's no wonder why they are trying for him. Getting Leonard, a two-time All-NBA selection, would likely be enough to retain James, the best player in the game. If James were to look around the league for a top-shelf running mate, he would be hard-pressed to find one better than Leonard.

That is assuming Leonard is healthy, of course. He did miss all but nine games this past season with a quadriceps injury. That injury was central in a saga of discord between him and the team. Until he hits the court again, Leonard offers no guarantees. Still, he may be worth the risk for Cleveland, as the alternative is potentially seeing James walk. 

If the Cavs got Leonard, that would probably solidify their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if they lost Love in the process. Leonard is better than Love and they would arguably have the two best players in the East. They may not have enough to beat the Warriors, but that would likely give them the edge over the young teams like Boston and Philly that have been nipping at their heels.

Sending Leonard to the Cavs would get him out of the Western Conference and that might be enticing to the Spurs. If they send him to the Lakers, his reported preferred destination, that could come back to bite them much more often than it would if he was traded to the East. Though putting him in Cleveland would form another very good team, they wouldn't affect the Spurs directly but for two regular season games, unless they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs haven't indicated they will actually trade Leonard, but it does seem to be heading in that direction. It sounds like Cleveland will at the very least give it a shot. 

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