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Old 12-19-2012, 07:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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ISSUE: Knight on point...

One of the major questions surrounding the Pistons right now is: Is Brandon Knight the point guard of the future in Detroit? There are a lot of people that would, gut reaction, say "No." And give it little further thought. And honestly - my immediate gut reaction is the same. His distribution skills clearly pale next to those of other young top tier point guards that have come into the NBA in recent years. But why does he have to be one of the best in the league to avoid being a bust?

First off, it is fairly obvious that he's not going to be Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, or Kyrie Irving. Those gentlemen are all absolutely the cream of the crop. For a lot of Pistons fans there was elation when Brandon Knight fell to Detroit in the 2011 Draft because at varying points in Knight's life he's been regarded as arguably the best scoring point guard at his age. At some points in high school better than Kyrie Irving.

But lets just get it out of the way now: That was overly optimistic. Lets put that possibility out of our minds right now. We can't view him as less than our point man of the future just because he isn't Kyrie Irving.

Lets look at what Knight has done since entering the league.

Shooting
I think it is fair to say right now that Knight is developing into one of the premiere shooters in the NBA. Last year he was pretty up and down, moving around in the 35%-37% range from beyond the arc. But in April he finished strong with a 43% month. This year? He's proven that April was a sign of things to come and not a statistical blip. Right now he's in the top 10 in the league in 3pt'ers made. And amongst those top 10 he's behind only OJ Mayo, Kevin Martin, and (by a HAIR) Steve Novak. He is without a doubt a hell of a shooter.

Scoring
This is an area of concern. When he's playing inside the arc he isn't nearly as effective. He's still slight, but he's not necessarily a twig of a guard. He's 6'3/190 so he has some room to pack on some muscle, which could benefit him down the line - but he isn't a big body that can pound down low right now. Amongst those outside shooters only Randy Foye and Klay Thompson right now are averaging a worse overall number of points per shot. Another problem is his free throw shooting - he's just not hitting like he should. For someone with his stroke I'd expect better than 75% - especially if you're only going to get to the stripe 3.5 times per night. He needs to hit the hole a little harder and bring those numbers up to 80% and 5 trips per night.

Distribution
In his rookie year distributing was a clear weakness, which was frustrating. But it was easy to take heart in the fact that Knight's assist numbers went up consistently over the course of the season, peaking at 4.3/4.1 in the last two months after starting the year off at 3.0 per night. Some of that could be chalked up to increased minutes, okay. But his turnover numbers stood still. As his minutes rose and his assist numbers and usage went up - his turnover numbers stayed about the same per night. This season? In November his assist numbers spiked noticeably - going to 5.6 per night. But so did his turnovers, which were at a career worst 3.7. In December? Both numbers have dropped to last season's levels at 3.9/2.7... Not promising. At the same time he is playing a career high in minutes this month and scoring at the best clip of his career, so I'll give him a pass on the assist drop. But clearly he's a better decision maker out on the floor right now than he was at any point last season.

Defense
Knight moves well laterally, he has very good foot speed. He's 6'3 with long arms. And he's got a frame that can easily pack on another 10-12 pounds of muscle without losing that quickness, which is good size for a point guard. He's already a pretty strong defender and evidence of that lies in the way opposing points play against Detroit. Right now Knight might only be considered a 13.9 PER guy for the Pistons on offense - but when he's on the floor his man is held to a 13.5 PER. He has had some great signature nights harassing opposing point guards. He harassed a (at the time) red hot Damian Lilliard to a 4/18 night. And he kept Chris Paul at least uncomfortable in the game against the Clippers the other night. He's obviously not an ace defensive point - but he's going to be a solid defensive player as he learns the ropes.


Overall - I really hope fans aren't giving up on him as a starting point guard of the future just yet. Knight just turned 21 and he's already showing he's made major strides over last season. He's obviously a better option than Rodney Stuckey was as a "point of the future." He can shoot, he's improving as a distributor, and he's turning into a very solid defensive point. He still has it in him to be a top 10-12 point in the league 4-5 years down the line. Put that next to Monroe and Drummond as towers down low - and you've got a fair start to a contending squad. It sometimes takes point guards a few years to hit their stride. Mike Conley is a great example of this, and is one of many. The fact that Knight is where he is at only 21 should be considered a good sign. He hasn't stalled out at all, we don't know what his peak is yet, and he works his ass off. I feel good right now having him.
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Old 12-19-2012, 07:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: ISSUE: Knight on point...

Worst-case scenario he should wind up a high-level combo guard. The point guard position is pretty stacked with good, young guys right now, so for him to really be a top 10-12 guy at that position he's going to have to make some big strides in his "point guard skills". Detroit's best option might be a somewhat unconventional lineup with a big point guard who's able to defend two-guards to assume the ball-handling duties, allowing Knight to focus on what he does best (spacing the floor).

I definitely think he's one of the three keepers the Pistons have, along with Monroe and Drummond. Everyone else is expendable in order to get the one or two other guys Detroit needs.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: ISSUE: Knight on point...

I think Knight has a ton of talent and a great work ethic, but right now it doesn't seem like he has a lot of direction. I think it's a failure of management to not have a single person on the roster that he can really look to for mentorship on how to play the position (including the coach).
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: ISSUE: Knight on point...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. Thang View Post
I think Knight has a ton of talent and a great work ethic, but right now it doesn't seem like he has a lot of direction. I think it's a failure of management to not have a single person on the roster that he can really look to for mentorship on how to play the position (including the coach).
Is it possible for every young stud at every position to have a mentor? Monroe is in his third year. Drummond is a rookie. Knight is in his second season. They have Maxiell mentoring the bigs and doing well at it. Prince is doing a fine job working with Singler (who seriously can be a very strong swing off of the bench, not a role to sneeze at). Is it management's fault they have role models at big AND swing... but not at guard? Well yes: it is. But how many positions can you have role models at?
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: ISSUE: Knight on point...

I think "role-models" are super over-rated for every position except for point guard, where they are super important.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: ISSUE: Knight on point...

You can always bring in recently-retired players to act as player development coaches without tying up a roster spot(it's what the Celtics did with Tyronn Lue). What's Eric Snow doing with himself these days?
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: ISSUE: Knight on point...

I feel like he will be a combo of Terry Porter and Derek Harper with his quickness and athleticism very similar to Tony Parker... He can be really good and is improving as a passer but Detroit needs the system to be in Knights hands passing wise for him to reach his passing potential as well as take away Stuckey's ball controlling rights
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: ISSUE: Knight on point...

How does Jose Calderon sound to you guys?
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Old 01-31-2013, 11:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: ISSUE: Knight on point...

Calderon will be good for Detroit. If nothing else, he'll do a great job of getting the ball to Monroe and Drummond in their preferred spots and stretch the floor with his shooting. I still think that Knight will benefit on offense from being able to be a combo guard for the rest of the year.
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