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2011 NBA draft winners and losers, sleepers and reachers

I wrote about the best of and worst of the NBA draft for ESPN’s 5-on-5. The Pistons didn’t strike me of deserving mention at either extreme, but Michael McNamara of Hornets247 named Brandon Knight his sleeper of the draft:

Although he still went fairly high, I think we will look back in five years and call Brandon Knight a steal for the Pistons at No. 8. Once Joe Dumars clears out some of the mess that is the Pistons’ roster, Knight will become a cornerstone piece that jells perfectly with last year’s first-round pick, Greg Monroe.


  • Jun 25, 20116:25 pm
    by MrHappyMushroom


    I guess I’m just stating the obvious when I point out that none of us has the slightest idea how Brandon Knight will turn out.  Those disappointed by his selection–those who are sure that he’ll be a disaster based on advanced stats from one college season–may be right, but largely just because they guessed right on this one.  All we know about him was that the experts who run and analyze basketball teams and players for a living had him pegged as high as the third pick, which means he must have exceptional talent and potential.  

    If he ends up being an ordinary player, though, this is likely the end for Joe D, particularly if players he could have gotten with the proposed Houston trade (Faried, a Morris, or one of the second tier point guards) end up being better pros.  And I appreciated Dan’s argument about needing “culture of winning players” on the roster, but have my doubts that Singler will ever be good enough than to be a fourth or fifth guy off the bench. If that’s the case, I can’t see that his attitude will make any sort of difference.  Again, if Jeremy Tyler and/or Keith Benson end up being better players than Singler, particularly if one ends up being a quality starter, Dumars will be finished.

    • Jun 25, 20117:05 pm
      by oats


      Actually not true. This draft is bad at the top, and being a high pick does not mean he is a star player. Chad Ford compared Kyrie Irvine and Derrick Williams to Mo Williams and Al Harrington. Then he thought there was a drop off to the next group of guys, which included Knight. He thinks Knight’s ceiling is a guy who might slip into an All Star game if the field is particularly weak, which is also Mo Williams. That said, he had enough holes in his game that Ford wasn’t convinced he would actually make it there. Add to that the fact that Knight had a terrible assist to turnover ratio and had terrible shot selection, and there are legitimate reasons to not be thrilled with this pick. When I watched Kentucky play, I often found myself thinking Knight was an undersized shooting guard. I will admit that I can’t say how much of my impressions and his stats were the fault of Calipari’s offense asking him to play that way. Still, if he is another combo guard, he is a terrible pick for a team that already has Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon. I agree we don’t know what kind of NBA player he is, but when looking at draft picks you have to make educated guesses as to what kind of players they will be. I’m concerned about Knight even if I do think he can be a star.
      As to your point in the second paragraph, that is just not going to happen. No GM has ever been fired for botching a second round pick. It doesn’t matter how good any of the second rounders are or if Singler sucks, it will not even remotely impact Dumars’ career. The reason for that is simple. No one expects anything from second round draft picks. Any second round picks that work out are a benefit to a GM keeping their job, and none of the failures mean anything. As for Knight being worse than Faried or the Morris twins, I’m not convinced that gets him canned. GMs are rarely fired based on a single bad decision. If one of those guys is better, that is a case of hind sight being 20/20 since no one thought that would happen. It might be looked at as a point against Dumars, but it will be far less important than what other moves Dumars makes to turn this team into a reasonably coherent roster. How he handles the logjam at the guards and if he can find us a big man mean a lot more than anything else. Let’s say he does a Prince/Kaman sign and trade, and then Minnesota comes looking for a veteran shooting guard and needs to add salary to get to the league minimum. If we add Kaman and dump Gordon, this year will go down as a win for Dumars even if Knight is not very good. The draft has never been what makes or breaks Dumars. He built our championship team on shrewd trades, and that is how he will be evaluated on whether or not we fire him. That is also why I supported Dumars staying on the job. His best skills are moving off mistakes quickly, and doing well in trades. He had both of those things taken away from him by ownership.

      • Jun 26, 201112:22 am
        by MrHappyMushroom


        Well, it’s still sort of true, Oats.  Any speculation about how good any prospect will be is only that.  It was pretty clear that LeBron would be good.  But at some level it’s guesswork.  Even in a supposedly weak draft (which we won’t really know for half a decade) a guy who some knowledgeable people peg as #3 might be really good.  Or not.  But I think my main point was that none of us know what will become of Brandon Knight.
        But in regards to how this draft ends up for the Pistons, I’ll still to the notion that this could end Dumars’ career.  If Knight ends up being so-so; if Faried ends up being a Milsap or David West level player; if Jeremy Tyler quickly establishes himself as an all-star caliber player, while Singler doesn’t make the roster…Yeah, I think that would lead to his dismissal.  If Knight ends up being one of the few elite players in this draft, JoD done good.  But given that this is a team with desperate, desperate, desperate needs inside and this draft really didn’t address those needs at all, I don’t see Gores or the fan base maintaining their patience should the team win 30 again next year and not be given any reason to believe that Knight is a upper echelon player.

        • Jun 26, 20111:52 am
          by Jonathan


          Draft picks only hurt a GM if it’s a consensus risky pick at the time.  All the experts are saying Knight is the right pick.  Case closed.

          • Jun 26, 20116:17 am
            by MrHappyMushroom

            The case is never closed. We’re not dealing in absolutes.

            I don’t think Knight was a bad pick.  But given that Dumars is on very shaky ground with a lot of people, are you really sure that if he looked to be a poor player in two years and Biyombo or Faried (both getable, either through moving up or moving down and getting another pick) end up being top flight players that this draft wouldn’t be a major nail in his coffin?  And if Kyle Singler plays DuJuan Summers minutes, while Jeremy Tyler makes good on his natural assets, you don’t think that fans, press, and management will become fed up with a GM who fields three or four consecutive 30 win teams and who, despite the obvious need for quality front court players, has done very little to secure one?

            In the end, I’m more suspect of the Singler move.  I just don’t know that a hard-nosed middling talent will matter much to this team.  I’d be far more inclined to swing for the fences with a boom or bust kind of guy.  In the past two decades, eight players have come out of the 2nd round to become all-stars.  Given the Pistons’ overall awfulness, I would have opted for taking a stab at finding the ninth.

        • Jun 26, 20113:07 pm
          by rick


          How do you know Gores wanted to pay the buyout for Biyombo? What if he told Joe to draft Knight? Then what will you say, Gores should be fired. Name the last NBA finals champions and then tell me who should get fired. I’m not buying that either of those players with Ben Wallace and Dennis Rodman attributes contributes more to a team than a point guard. I think you may have it out for Joe personally and want to see him gone at all and any cost. This draft was weak in the front end and had quality bench type help talent in the late rounds. You say 20 years and eight players how does that quantify losing your job? Get over the last three years, yeah they suck but what good is it doing being mad about something you have no control over. I have faith in the man simply because the GM situation is settled and we have direction. This team in my opinion was terrible back in 2000 and if anyone could shoulder the pain of watching those years then I know their is a light at the end of the tunnel. We had no real direction and now once we establish a coach and a identity who knows where we go from there. I’m not completely ready to give up on the team as it is just that we need to get rid of a few and add a few, but other than that after seeing Dallas win it with Dirk at age 32 gives me hope as well as reason to believe that we can get there sooner than later. The key is getting a coach who can identify whoever is on the team and their strengths as well as their weaknesses and coach them up to play their roles up to the best of their ability.

  • Jun 25, 201110:53 pm
    by RandomGuy313


    @DF: I agree with your thoughts on Sactown. How Tyreke and Jimmer are gona share the ball is beyond me.

    Do you have any recommendations on stat sites that look at minutes per game for players as well as average time a group of players are on the court?

    thanks in advance

  • Jun 26, 20118:17 am
    by JT's Hoops Blog


    Hope Brandon Knight does not end up like another Rodney Stucky.  the Pistons need someone to pass the ball for goodness sake.  Also wtd w/ Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, and perrenial waste of space Charlie Villanueva?

  • Jun 26, 20114:09 pm
    by Tre


    I think the Pistons ‘Can’ become an All-Around, ‘High Level’ contending squad with Monroe and Knight. Although NO ONE knows how productive Knight will be in Detroit,
    I think anyone would agree that if Detroit can ‘Smartly’ put together a group of players that Compliments Knight and Monroe, Than well have an Exciting, Promising, Contending Team for years to come ! The make or break that comes with this pick (And Dumars job) is going to revolve around how well we build around Knight ! If we can get a few players that can contribute to help Knight reach his potential which is very high ! (Like how Celtics big 3 contribute to Rondo’s success) than well have a Complete team ! Rather we do it by drafting Very high next year [Besides Toronto && Sac we have the highest chances of doing just that] or we do It through trades ! Either way we ‘NEED’ to rebuild!
    It’ll be very wise if we could Nail Boozer , J. Smooth, Or Milsap / Jefferson , while keeping a first rounder for next year !

  • Jun 26, 20114:23 pm
    by Mike


    Did you not listen to Gores on draft night?  He was ecstatic sbout our picks and he publicly said that Dumars and his team had done a great job.  He also indicated he doesn’t care if we only win 20 games next year if we are building a solid foundation.  We have 2 potentially very good players in Monroe and Knight to build around – a big and a PG.  Are we done – no.  Calipari himself said that Knight was a better shooter than either Rose or Wall.  He asked Knight to be a scoring PG.  He thinks he will be a stud.

    Great job Joe D.  Now just clean some house and we are on our way.

  • Jun 26, 20114:28 pm
    by Tre


    @RandomGuy – I never really understood why people did (And obviously still do) make a BIG deal about two Scorers being on the same team !
    A lot of people is talking about how it won’t work . . . Or How they can’t comprehend how I Could work . But remember those were the SAME EXACT comments people were making about LeBron and Wade, Which turned out ‘Great’ !
    Besides bringing in Tickets , I’m pretty sure Sac knows what they want to do with Jimmer, who can possibly Be average or above in distrubuting as well !
    Having him && Tyreke on the floor gives you two guard that can be VERY dangerous Scorers and Can Distrubute as well ! It’s Not a Bad Backcourt , Jimmer handled the ball Very Well in College and I think he’ll be able to handle it nicely in sac ! I’d hate to have to guard those players !

    • Jun 27, 20115:05 pm
      by Dan Feldman


      LeBron and Wade do a lot more than score. The problem is with having two high scorers (who are usually highly paid) who don’t contribute more than scoring. Then, team’s don’t have enough cap room to sign the players who pass, rebound, defend, etc.

  • Jun 26, 20114:39 pm
    by Tre


    @ Mike – Agreed Dude. There’s ‘Only’ a very few teams with above average Pg’s && Centers , and we have the Above average center that’s VERY young. And an even younger PG that Has ‘High’ potential ! Rebuilding is the key way we’ll be able to get Knight to reach at his highest peak as a pistons !
    I just wonders what Dumars have in stores for the rebuilding process ” )

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