Chris Singleton is living the professional basketball-playing dream. Drafted in the first round last year, the aggressive small forward is now in his second NBA season. We can all imagine the various perks. Anyone who has ever laced up the high tops on the city blacktops or launched long bombs from suburban driveways would surely trade places.
However, make that swap with Singleton specifically and on the court you'd be living a win-loss nightmare: consecutive 0-8 starts.
"I wouldn't wish it upon anybody," Singleton said of the back-to-back ignominious starts to the season. With Washington's 83-76 loss to Utah on Saturday, this edition matched the franchise record for losses to start a season set last season.
That's not to say for Singleton the current skid compares note for note to the previous slide.
"It feels different just because we're in the games. We're right there. We just have to get over the hump. We doing a lot better this year. The ego's not playing is a big part of it. We're just going out there and playing," said Singleton following Sunday's practice and one day before Washington hosts Indiana (4-7).
Besides a 16-point loss to Charlotte, Washington has been in the mix during every fourth quarter this season. Against Utah the Wizards trailed by 72-69 following Jordan Crawford's jumper with 6:17 remaining in the fourth quarter. By the time the Wizards made another basket, only 19 seconds remained and the team trailed by nine.
Though his energy has been evident throughout the season, Singleton did not receive his first action until the fourth quarter as Randy Wittman searches for the right lineup combinations. Based on the team scoring only 13 points in the final quarter and matching the season-low point total for a game, the coach and players are still searching.
"Our executing skills toward the end of games needs to get better," Singleton said.
Understandably, the team's spirits have taken a hit.
"It’s not great obviously, and it probably shouldn’t be," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. " We need to get through because we’re not that far away. I know I sound like a redundant record, but to score 76 points and lose by seven and being in the game right down the stretch … they’re doing some good things. They’re doing a lot of good things, except what matters most, winning."
Ah yes, the winning. Actually, it's the losing where Singleton has noticed additional differences between the consecutive season-opening eight-game losing streaks.
"We're definitely taking it hard," said Singleton, who turns 23 on Wednesday. "Everybody is taking it personal. We're talking about basketball a lot more than we were last year. We want to win. We know it's our fault. It's nothing that the other team is doing. We make the small mistakes that turn into the big picture. The big picture is loss."