Archive → June, 2011
The Pistons added three new players last night, and considering the draft could be the last bit of NBA news we have to discuss for a while, considering a lockout now seems unavoidable, we’ll keep it rolling with some reaction from all over the place to Detroit’s picks.
Based on the team’s current roster, yet another guard seems like overkill. But remember, for the first time in two years, Dumars is free to shake up the roster — and if we’re really being honest, very few members of the current roster will be around the next time this team goes deep into the playoffs. At this stage of the rebuilding game, you draft talent and fit pieces around it, not the other way around.
A Sea of Blue (UK basketball blog):
Brandon Knight slipped a bit. He was projected to go at #5 to Toronto, but Tristan Thompson’s unexpected pick at #4 by Cleveland threw the top ten into disarray. Knight was eventually picked at #8 by the Detroit Pistons, and assuming Tayshaun Prince re-signs with Detroit, UK fans may have a new favorite team.
It’s no secret the Pistons weren’t the most cohesive group last season. A significant portion of the roster clashed with coach John Kuester, often publicly.
Tom Gores, Joe Dumars and the rest of the front office, made a statement with these draft picks, that the culture from last season won’t be tolerated any longer.
I’m satisfied with the selection if Detroit is stuck with Knight. I think he can step in, in year 2 and make an impact. Knight is the youngest players in the NBA Draft, and I think as his 1st season goes on he is the type of intelligent basketball player who could take what he’s learned off the court and apply it to his trade on the court.
Again, Singler doesn’t do much of anything particularly well. That’s not a knock against him. The stat heads are obviously freaking out about this pick, because Singler does not offer much upside in comparison to the other players that are remaining on the board. Singler is the type of player that helps the players around him by simply doing what he does best, hustling and playing smart basketball.
Macklin is a “lunch pail” guy. I remember watching Macklin play at Georgetown with Hibbert and current Piston DaJuan Summers. I can’t see him sticking with the team out of training camp, but he’s definitely a candidate for the D League and I think he could almost find instant success there.
Adding Brandon Knight, who many view as a combo guard, certainly doesn’t seem to help. If there is a silver lining, however, it is that this move might finally put an end to the Rodney Stuckey as starting point guard experiment. Stuckey has never seemed comfortable as a point guard and seemed to flourish any time he was allowed to play off the ball. But there is just no way that the team goes into training camp with all five of these guards on the roster.
8. “Mr. Cum Laude” Brandon Knight
33. Kyle “Sweathead” Singler
52. “Cracklin’” Vernon Macklin
Knight wowed #Pistons at the predraft camp interview. Expected to be a character guy. But expect moves in crowded backcourt – not Knight.
He already has shown a knack for knocking down big shots. In leading the Wildcats to the Final Four last season, Knight hit two game-winning shots and also put up 30 points in a regional final victory over West Virginia.
Great pick up, I like the pick
Welcome to Detroit young fellow @BrandonKnight12. Get your mind right and let’s get this. The city of the Detroit will welcome & support you
All the ppl who r already coming up with the Daye-N-Knight thing r funny I’ve got at least 10 of those !!!
His free fall out of the top three of the draft cost him plenty of greenbacks. Plus, he now joins the most dysfunctional team in the NBA, the Detroit Pistons. Not exactly the greatest position for a young, raw player to get his feet wet.
He was a similar recruit to Kentucky. A legitimate 5-star talent. It wouldn’t surprise me if he is a better NBA player than Kyrie Irving, the first overall selection by Cleveland. The two will play against each a lot in the same division.
Dumars said the Pistons view him as a point guard and will put the ball in his hands. With Rodney Stuckey (restricted free agent), Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon still in the fold, Knight adds to an already-stacked spot.
With small forwards Tayshaun Prince, Tracy McGrady and DaJuan Summers approaching free agency, Austin Daye is the only small forward under contract for next season.
Jonas Jerebko is a restricted free agent.
“That was a contributing factor, obviously,” Perry said. “When we went into this draft, we talked about adding some size and adding a guard and a wing player. We accomplished two of those goals.”
The kid wants the ball. If you watched him at Kentucky, he demands the ball. To take the Billups comparison even farther, Knight also is bright with an apparent chip on his shoulder, expanded a bit by his drop from the draft’s top five.
Slights always drove Billups. Knight admitted he was disappointed to slide, but was glad to be coming to Detroit.
The Pistons selected three players — Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler, and Vernon Macklin – who were described as “good kids”. Unfortunately when each actually played college basketball in 2010-11, all three managed to post Win Score numbers that were below average for their position. In fact, as noted below, each posted numbers that were far below average. And although college numbers do not predict future NBA numbers perfectly, when a player doesn’t actually play basketball well in the past, we tend to wonder if he will play basketball much better in the future.
NEWARK, New Jersey – When the Pistons drafted Brandon Knight with the eighth pick, he went through the usual hug-and-kiss routine with the family and friends at his green-room table, but a key element was missing: a smile. He shook hands with David Stern and forced a few teeth to show while posing for pictures. Then, on a night nearly everyone in his draft class joyfully lapped up the experience, Knight meandered through his interview circuit with terse answers and a frown.
You’ll read quotes today from Knight about how excited he is to join the Pistons, and I’m sure the words will be correctly transcribed. But seeing the text won’t convey how dejected he looked and sounded.
It’s nothing personal to Detroit. Knight, who worked out only with the Cavaliers (No. 1 and No. 4 picks), Jazz (No. 3), Raptors (No. 5) and Kings (No. 7) certainly expected to get drafted before the eighth pick. And the Pistons must’ve figured they’d get a player who fits more of a need. So, I doubt either side is thrilled. But that doesn’t change two truths:
The Pistons made the right pick. Detroit is the best landing spot for Knight.
Knight was the best player available. None of the tall players who seemed like they might be available at No. 8 – Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely and Bismack Biyombo – slipped to the Pistons’ pick. Frankly, none of them should’ve.
For Knight, it’s simple: if he fell any further, he would’ve lost more money.
So, it’s up to the Pistons and Knight to make this imperfect partnership work. Neither side needed each other, but they’re better off together just because of what they could accomplish together. Now, Knight and the Pistons must take the steps to ensure they find success.
As obvious as the resemblance was, Joe Dumars has typically shied away from comparing Rodney Stuckey to Chauncey Billups. Stuckey has clearly been living in Billups’ footsteps in Detroit, anyway. Why add to that pressure?
Apparently Dumars doesn’t have the same desire to protect Knight.
“Chauncey can stand out there and shoot with the best of them, and this kid, that’s what he does,” Dumars said. “He can really, really shoot the ball. … He’s going to be one of those point guards that when you name the best shooting point guards, he’s going to be one of those guys.”
Let’s slow down. Way down.
The first step is understanding why Knight fell. By my count, he was the eight-best prospect for the Pistons in this draft. Getting him with the eighth pick is fitting, not a blessing.
I suspect many fans are happy with Knight because he’s not another European like, gasp, Darko. Fans with that simple-minded view will likely compare him to previous John Calipari point guards John Wall, Tyreke Evans and Derrick Rose. But if those three are the bar, Knight won’t clear it.
There are plenty of reasons to like Knight. He’s talented, smart,* hard-working, athletic and long – a special combination. How many players possess all five of those attributes and fail?
Knight, who attended Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., visited Yale before landing at Kentucky.
"He could go to any school in the country without bouncing a ball," David Beckerman, his prep coach, told the Kentucky Advocate-Messenger in 2010. "He has a 4.3 grade-point average at the No. 1 academic school in Florida. He could not bounce a ball and go to Harvard. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player, but he’s also a superb student."
There’s just one problem: he wasn’t very good at playing basketball last year. He hit some big shots and showed raw talent, and he’s young. I’m certainly not writing him off. But that doesn’t change the fact that Knight wasn’t that good last year.
Here’s how the he ranked among the 22 point guards in DraftExpress’ top 100:
- Points per 40 minutes, pace adjusted: 14th
- Assists per 40 minutes, pace adjusted: 15th
- Offensive-rebounding percentage: 16th
- Defensive-rebounding percentage: 10th
- Steals per 40 minutes, pace adjusted: 23rd
- Blocks per 40 minutes, pace adjusted: 7th (seven-way tie)
- Turnovers per 40 minutes, pace adjusted: 17th (three-way tie)
- Personal fouls per 40 minutes, pace adjusted: 13th (five-way tie)
- 2-point percentage: 17th (tie)
- 3-point percentage: 12th
- Free-throw percentage: 13th
- Assist-to-turnover ratio: 18th
- Points per play: 15th
- Free-throw attempt per field-goal attempt: 16th
That’s the résumé of someone who should have the expectations for him dialed down, not up, like the Pistons are doing. It didn’t stop with the Billups comparison, either.
Dumars said everyone on his staff spent time with Knight and watched him play, I think implying that not working him out doesn’t mean they aren’t certain of his high value. But were the Pistons around Kentucky so much to see Knight or Enes Kanter? I suspect the latter had more to do with it. Still, I trust Detroit had the appropriate amount of information to evaluate Knight. That doesn’t make Knight bust-proof, though. Does Dumars really have to hammer in how sure everyone in the organization is about Knight?
Dumars also brought up Knight saying in his interview with the Pistons that he had 90 credits at the end of his freshman year. Maybe that’s on Knight for fibbing or Dumars for exaggerating, but I can’t believe Knight has that many credits. He entered Kentucky with 21 credits and had nearly 60 credits through May 10. I doubt he added more than 30 credits since then. For the most part, that’s a harmless stretch. But, again, why up expectations?
Even Knight is working on sending Pistons fans into a tizzy. Before the draft, according to Kevin Jones of Philadunkia, when asked about players he admires, Knight listed Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash and Derrick Rose. Speaking with Detroit media, he answered the same question with Isiah Thomas and Chauncey Billups.
At this point, how many Pistons fans aren’t gaga for Knight? We could probably hold a meeting in an elevator.
As Patrick frequently notes, the Pistons have a bad habit of hyping their young players to an unhealthy level. Now would be a great time to stop. It would also be a great time to add more young players worth hyping. But first, that would require shedding the dead weight that overwhelms the roster.
Crafting the roster around Brandon Knight
In Knight’s post-draft press conference, someone began a question, “In addition to veterans, you’ve got a lot of young guys, guys like Greg Monroe and guys like –” The reporter paused, completed the sentence with an awkward “that are young players” and then finished his question.
Is it really that hard to name two good, young Pistons? Apparently it is, and that’s a problem. As Dumars said, Knight is just a quality piece. The Pistons need more of them, preferably ones who complement their new point guard.
I’m not suggesting the Pistons make Knight their franchise player. If you read the previous section, that much should be clear. But they should surround such a high pick with parts that would give him a chance to excel.
I know that won’t be easy like it would’ve been had a desirable big fallen to the Pistons. If they had drafted, say, Bismack Biyombo, a couple point guards (Darius Morris and Josh Selby) would’ve offered good value at No. 33. Then, all of a sudden, Detroit would’ve been on its way to assembling a balanced roster.
At least the Pistons have a starting point. A Knight-Stuckey-Austin Daye-Jonas Jerebko-Greg Monroe lineup is worth getting excited about. How many teams can post such a strong lineup that’s so young next season?
But behind those five players lies a wake of problems. To start, Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Will Bynum might want some minutes in Detroit’s suddenly more-crowded backcourt. Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell are paid like players who warrant serious playing time, too. Also, are the Pistons ready to kick Tayshaun Prince to the curb if he doesn’t find the market elsewhere for a complementary wing on the wrong side of 30 as tempting as hoped?
And heck, the biggest question mark is already penciled into my lineup of the future. What happens now with Stuckey, a restricted free agent? Dumars said he spoke with Stuckey shortly before meeting with the media last night and gave no indication his plans have changed about wanting to re-sign Stuckey. At best, Knight’s presence lowers Stuckey’s salary. At worst, the Pistons overpay anyway and hinder Knight’s development. In the middle, Detroit let’s Stuckey walk away. All three are possible, as are a number of scenarios in the gaps.
The ownership change was supposed to give Dumars a chance to alleviate all these roster concerns, and he’ll get it in due time. But right now, it feels like the handcuffs are still on.
The draft dealt Dumars a difficult hand, because the best player available made the roster even more jumbled. But because he chose to take Knight, Dumars owes it to him to find a way to fix this roster and give him a chance to succeed.
A sad draft night – but a happy future?
I’m not jumping up and down about this pick, but I see avenues that will lead to it working if both sides take dedicated steps toward making it work.
Simply: Knight must get better, and the Pistons must get better for him.
Via Dave Pemberton of the Oakland Press, Pistons vice-president Scott Perry discusses Vernon Macklin. Perry says the Pistons liked his defense and toughness, but also liked the fact that he has improved his offensive game as well.
Scott Perry on Kyle Singler: Pistons wanted to add Singler’s winner-iness, toughness, leader-y-ness to locker room
Via Dave Pemberton of the Oakland Press, Pistons vice-president of player personnel Scott Perry discusses Kyle Singler. Perry said the Pistons had Singler graded as a first round talent and discusses the reasons they felt he was a good fit.
Well, unfortunately I didn’t get to Vernon Macklin in the Draft Dreams series, so I can’t pull from that. But here’s a little but about the F/C out of Florida who the Pistons took 52nd overall:
Measurables: 6-foot-9, 243 pounds senior F/C from Florida
Key stats: 11.6.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 59 percent shooting
How does he help the Pistons?
Well, the Pistons have a theme. They drafted three players who are known for having good attitudes and for working hard. Macklin is a big bodied four-year player who will battle on the boards and hustle. Clearly, based on the three guys Joe Dumars took in this draft, the problems that watchers of the team seemed to notice — malaise, lack of effort, lack of energy — were all things noticed by Dumars as well. I don’t know if Macklin or Singler will contribute much, but both should at the very least make Pistons practices more intense.
Skill-wise, Macklin is athletic, strong, runs the floor and he’s a good finisher. He’s not completely devoid of post moves, but he’s also not projected to be a threat the Pistons are going to dump the ball into. He should, however, be a nice target for Greg Monroe, since he’s always active and around the basket. He didn’t block a lot of shots, but his 7-foot-3 wingspan and athleticism suggests he should at least be able to bother some.
How won’t he help the Pistons?
He’s not particularly polished offensively, although at least he doesn’t seem to take poor shots or force the issue. He’s also a bit less of a prospect than some others in the draft because he’s a fifth year senior who sat out a year after transferring from Georgetown to Florida. Also, he shot just 49 percent at the FT line, so if he and Ben Wallace get minutes together, that should be fun.
What are others saying?
- Long, athletic forward
- Can really finish around the basket
- NBA body
- Runs the floor well
- Lacks focus
- Can get sloppy
- Old for his class
On the defensive end, Macklin had some impressive moments using his near 7’4 wingspan to adjust shots around the basket, though he didn’t come up with blocks. He’s very good when he’s dialed in, especially when defending the post one-on-one, but it would be nice to see him show more intensity on the defensive glass. Macklin averaged a respectable 8.0 rebounds over the week here, but seemed capable of more after looking terrific cleaning the boards in the first game. Mostly an area rebounder at this juncture, it would be nice to see Macklin show the aggressiveness on the glass that he showed on the offensive end this week.
The Pistons added their second new player of the night, Kyle Singler. One person who doesn’t love this pick? Dan Feldman. Check out his take on players who have won NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player awards.
I like him slightly better, even if I liked other guys better at this spot. COUNT THA RINGZ! Here was my profile of him pre-draft:
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like Kyle Singler’s college career flew by. Dukies have a habit of seeming like they’re in college for about nine years (Christian Laettner and Grant Hill, for example), but Singler’s four-year career went by really quick. He was obviously a very good college basketball player. Will that game translate to the NBA, though?
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, senior F from Duke
Key stats: 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 32 percent from three
Projected: Second round
How would he help the Pistons?
I’m not convinced that he would. But I’m also a proponent of teams taking the best available player regardless of position in the second round. Second round picks are usually longshots to make a roster. A large percentage of guys never amount to much in the NBA. So even if the Pistons are fairly solid at the forward spot, a player like Singler may very well be the guy who has the best shot to make a roster when the Pistons pick.
These are the things he has going for him: he’s a decent 3-point shooter, he rebounds well for a guy who operates on the perimeter a lot, he’s a good passer for his size and he’s won a lot of games while being asked to play different roles during his Duke career. If the Pistons lose Tayshaun Prince and Tracy McGrady to free agency and with the assumption that Jonas Jerebko is going to be counted on to play at least some of his minutes at the four, the Pistons actually could be in a position to add depth. Singler, as a guy who can shoot but is also big and strong enough to give some minutes at the four, might not be a bad pickup if he’s available and all of the promising bigs in the draft are off the board.
How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?
Singler won’t score inside. He can hit a midrange jumper, but a high percentage of his points in college come from 15 feet and out. He also didn’t shoot the ball well his senior season after being near 40 percent from three during his first three seasons. The Pistons also have a forward on the roster who is a bit too perimeter happy in Charlie Villanueva.
As much criticism as Villanueva has taken from fans, there’s a big difference between him and Singler: Villanueva is much more athletic. While Villanueva can surely slide over to the three and at least be OK athletically at the position, Singler still has to prove he can do that at the NBA level.
What are others saying?
The fact that Singler has been a role-player essentially throughout his college career, doing so on a competitive and winning team throughout, will play in his favor, though. He is not the type of player who will need to make a huge transition in his style of play to make an impact. Furthermore, he’s ready to contribute immediately, as he’s a mature player both physically and mentally, who has been coached by one of the most respected men in basketball over the past four years. These things, along with his strong intangibles, could all look very attractive to a good team drafting in the second half of the first round looking for a solid piece to add to their rotation.
NBA execs look for similarities for help in projections, so anything Singler can do to separate himself from (Gordon) Hayward would be great, and that starts with his perimeter shot. Hayward was good his first season and bad as a sophomore, and Singler is working on an “average, good, good, average” run over his four years. Of course, this season could end up as an excellent one from deep, starting with his 5-for-9 performance against Oregon. Combine a sharpshooter with the fighter/hustler Singler has proved to be in the past against a team like Michigan State? That’s a guy every team will covet.
Singler needs little room to get off a shot with his high release point in a 6’9 body … When he’s not spotting up, he shows offensive versatility in that he can hit a number of different types of shots in different ways … Reliable mid-range game with ability to shoot off dribble, although prefers to catch and shoot… High basketball IQ, high awareness of what’s going on around him which helps him defensively off the ball, as well as with the ball in his hands in regards to finding teammates cutting to the hoop… Sees court well for 6’9 forward … Fiery and competitive kid who just has a great overall feel for the game.
To learn more about him, check out Patrick Hayes’ Draft Dreams:
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, freshman G from Kentucky
Key stats: 17.2 points, 4.2 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 38 percent from three
How would he help the Pistons?
After an up and down regular season, Knight, should he choose to enter the draft, seems to have helped his draft stock as much as anyone. He was always considered a first round talent, but the way he’s asserted himself on Kentucky’s run to the Final Four has him looking like a legit lead guard/playmaker. He’s probably not as advanced as former John Calipari products Derrick Rose and John Wall, but even if Knight could have an Eric Bledsoe-like impact as a rookie, the team that drafted him would be very happy.
The Pistons’ need for a playmaker is an obvious one. There isn’t a guy on the roster who can consistently create his own shot under any circumstance when things break down. Knight potentially has that ability, and the best part is most mocks have him available in the 7-10 range where Detroit is most likely to be drafting. Knight is quick off the dribble, he’s big (and will get bigger as he fills out) and he might be a better perimeter shooter already than Rose/Wall were at his age.
How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?
Knight’s measurables are fantastic. He’s in the mold of the new wave NBA PG both in size and athleticism, although he’s not the explosive athlete that Rose or Wall or Russell Westbrook are. He’s a shoot-first PG, but what his season didn’t provide a clear answer to is if he’s a shoot-first PG like Rose or Wall, who still sets up good opportunities for others even if he’s the primary scoring option, or is he more Tyreke Evans, a phenomenal talent with scoring ability who doesn’t have the court vision or awareness of the others. Knight has also had problems with turnovers this season at Kentucky.
What are others saying?
Knight is obviously a great talent who has the chance to succeed as either a point guard or combo guard depending on his development, but he’ll need to develop a much more mature approach to the game to reach his full potential. Putting more focus on his shot selection, creating for others, and his defensive effort are all critical things he needs to address, and he still has plenty of time to do so. His potential as a starting point guard obviously greatly trumps his potential as a combo guard coming off the bench, so getting back to showing more of a pass-first mentality would likely help his draft stock considerably.
But Knight got better — a lot better — as the season progressed, much like two other former Calipari guards, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. Knight is more comfortable running the offense (especially since Calipari has him using more ball screens) and has been Kentucky’s steadiest player this season.
Very creative passer … Quick decision maker … A fierce competitor, really steps his level of play up in big situations … High motor guy. Plays with a high level of intensity and passion … Strong work ethic, constantly looking to improve both his body and game … His body has seen an impressive transformation from his sophomore to senior year of high school … Has an excellent jumpshot with range out to 3 point … Good shooter off the dribble … An excellent defender who uses his length and quickness to stay in front of his man … Drew 2 changes per game as a senior in high school … Very smart, engaging young man with a bright future
Utah and Detroit had discussed trading the 12th and 8th picks, with Pistons picking up a future No. 1, but talks dissolved, sources say.
Jazz also making late push to move up to No. 8 (Detroit) to possibly draft Jimmer Fredette. Utah’s definitely working the phones.
It sounds like the Pistons turned down the trade, according to Chad Ford of ESPN:
Hey @tribjazz, sounds like Jazz didn’t make much progress with the Pistons.
The Jazz seems to want Jimmer before the Bobcats take him at No. 9. I think he’ll be there at No. 8, either way. So, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Pistons revisit this trade when their pick comes up and they know who else is available.
If the Pistons stay at the No. 8 pick, they’ll have the opportunity to draft at least one of these eight players. Here’s how Patrick and I each rank the top of our draft boards:
1. Kyrie Irving
2. Derrick Williams
3. Jonas Valanciunas
4. Enes Kanter
5. Bismack Biyombo
6. Jan Vesely
7. Brandon Knight
8. Kawhi Leonard
1. Kyrie Irving
2. Derrick Williams
3. Jonas Valanciunas
4. Enes Kanter
5. Bismack Biyombo
6. Klay Thompson
7. Kawhi Leonard
8. Chris Singleton
Please post your top eight in the comments.
The Bucks will get Sacramento’s Beno Udrih, Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston and the 19th pick from the Bobcats in Thursday night’s draft, while Charlotte obtains the No. 7 pick from Sacramento and forward Corey Maggette from Milwaukee.
The Kings will get guard John Salmons from Milwaukee and the 10th pick in the draft. Charlotte will keep the No. 9 pick.
The trade is kind of a downer if the Pistons wanted Bismack Biyombo. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express:
Not believing any of this Tristan Thompson at 7 stuff. Charlotte did this trade to jump ahead of Detroit and take Biyombo. If he’s there.