Who is Kyle Singler?
Is he the perfect player for the Thunder to select with the 24th overall pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft?
Or is he just another smoke screen, the latest in a long line of prospects that prognosticators have fallen for before general manager Sam Presti suckered them with a pump fake and went in another direction?
We're finally just a few hours from finding out.
But of all the players over the past four drafts who have widely been pegged to get plucked by the Thunder franchise, Singler, the 6-9 forward from Duke, might just be the most accurate projection since Kevin Durant was the no-brainer second overall choice in 2007.
If we've learned anything over the years when it comes to the Thunder during the draft, it's that we know nothing about what the front office is liable to do.
In 2007, Presti opted to take Jeff Green fifth overall when some considered Chinese forward Yi Jianlian a can't-miss prospect. In 2008, Presti chose Russell Westbrook fourth overall when players like Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, Eric Gordon and Jerryd Bayless were widely believed to be the best options. And in 2009, Presti selected James Harden third overall ahead of more hyped players like Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry.
But a close examination of Singler reveals a player who has traces of the Thunder's DNA running through his blood. And when you add up all the pieces, it becomes clear why so many have penciled in Singler to be this year's selection.
Nothing about Singler is sexy.
He's 23. He's a four-year college player. He's an average athlete.
But the guy knows how to play. And he's a winner. And he's a tough-as-nails competitor who will do anything to help his team.
That's the kind of player the Thunder adores.
Some view Singler and see limited upside. The Thunder is more likely to see a ready-made rotation player who could carve out a 15-year career.
Some question Singler's ability because he stayed in college. The Thunder is more likely to admire his makeup for choosing to stick around Tobacco Road and willingly become an unquestioned leader rather than fleeing for NBA riches following a national title as a junior.
And while others say Singler isn't great at anything, the Thunder is more likely to fall in love with at all the little things he does well.
Singler averaged 16.9 points and 6.8 rebounds as a senior at Duke. But his value extends beyond the box score. One league source described Singler's game as potentially being similar to Thunder forward Nick Collison's.
At the Chicago Pre-Draft camp, Singler's unbridled motor once forced him to step in and take a charge on a player during what was supposed to be a non-contact drill. Some might have snickered. Others might have seen evidence that Singler knows only one speed.
According to Singler's agent, Greg Lawrence, Singler conducted 14 workouts for teams leading up to the draft. While many players annually refuse workouts, Singler went head-to-head with UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt — a player projected to be selected in the same range as Singler — in several sessions, including one in Oklahoma City.
Though Singler's measurements might not have stood out in drills, his impact in the competitive portions always seemed to impress. His teams, be it games of 2-on-2 or 3-on-3, generally found ways to win.
“Whichever team ends up drafting him is going to be really pleased with the type of player and person they're getting,” said Lawrence.
Singler's pedigree is also significant.
For a franchise that has prided itself on picking players from prime college programs like UCLA, Kansas, Texas and Ohio State, the importance of Singler's body of work at Duke cannot be understated.
During Singler's four-year career at Duke, the Blue Devils compiled a 125-23 record. They won at least 28 games all four years and never lost more than seven games in any one season. And even though Singler was ‘The Man' in college, he has established a reputation as a great teammate who is ego-free and won't step into the NBA and feel entitled.
It all seems so solid, so Thunder.
And at this point, the Thunder needs solid much more than another young star.