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How much playing time can Brandon Knight physically handle as a rookie?

Like Kevin Pelton and Patrick, I think it’s unlikely Brandon Knight’s basketball ability will earn him major minutes as a rookie.

But in an ideal world, Knight would be ready. He’d play dramatically better than Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum, and only a limit on human endurance would keep him off the floor.

Let’s say Knight fits that that profile. (Wouldn’t that be swell?) How much of a load can Knight carry next season? What’s reasonable to expect from him physically if all his skills come together?

One big sign suggests he can play a lot, and one big sign suggests he can’t.

Sign Brandon Knight is capable of playing a lot of minutes

Simply, he played a lot of minutes last year.

Among all Division I players last season, Knight ranked fourth in minutes played and 53rd in minutes per game. Among players drafted, only Kemba Walker played more total minutes and just Walker, Charles Jenkins and Marshon Brooks played more minutes per game.

Kentucky relied heavily on Knight, and his body never gave in.

That workload is impressive for anyone, but it’s off the charts for a freshman.

No other freshman ranked in the top 100 in minutes per game, and the next-closest freshman in total minutes was fellow Kentucky Wildcat Terrence Jones, who ranked 49th.

It’s reasonable to assume a 19-year-old, like Knight, will mature physically at a faster rate than the older players drafted – and Knight is already playing more than nearly all of them.

Sign Brandon Knight isn’t capable of playing a lot of minutes

He’s small.

At 177 pounds, Knight weighed the second least among all players at the NBA Combine (trailing Norris Cole). His body fat percentage of 4.2 was also the second-lowest (trailing Justin Harper). Plus, Knight had the draft’s sixth-lowest body-mass index (trailing, in order of lowest to highest, Tyler Honeycutt, Keith Benson, Alec Burks, Jon Diebler and Jon Leuer).

By any measure, the 6-foot-3 Knight will need to beef up his frame.

If Knight is playing so well, his endurance becomes a factor, Knight will almost assuredly be attempting more free throws than he did at Kentucky, too. He ranked a distant last in free-throw rate per 40 minutes among this year’s first-round point guards. Not only will that mean taking more contact, the contact will come from bigger and stronger NBA players.

That would certainly reduce Knight’s ability to play big minutes.

How much will Brandon Knight actually be capable of playing?

Maybe history provides a clue.

The other John Calipari one-and-done point guards – John Wall (37.8 minutes per game as a rookie), Tyreke Evans (37.2) and Derrick Rose (37.0) – all rank in the top 15 all-time for minutes per game by a rookie guard. Knight played more minutes (1363) and minutes per game (35.9) than Wall (1288, 34.8), Evans (1072, 29.0) or Rose (1168, 29.2) did in college.

Then again, Kentucky played at a slower tempo last year than any of those other three’s teams did, making minutes less taxing for Knight.

There’s no clear answer here.

Hopefully, Knight plays well enough that we find out next season.

5 Comments

  • Jul 6, 20116:19 pm
    by rob

    Reply

    Its interesting that all 3 of them played about 37 min/gm. Its probably a credit to Calipari getting these guys ready for the NBA. I think Knight can carry the same load. The real question is whether the Pistons have the cajones to give him that load. Under Dumars, no rookie has ever gotten that many min/gm. The most was probably Monroe, who had like 25 I think.

    Had Monroe gotten 37 and started right from the beginning, I have no doubt he would’ve avg a double-double as a rookie. I dont think the Pistons should do anything to get in the way of Knights develoment. No need to ease him along, imo. He’s a really smart kid that can handle a lot thrown at him, I think. Carrying a 4.0 GPA and team to the Final Four as a freshman proved he can handle a lot.

    Calipari PG’s avg 18 pts, 7 asts, and 5 rebs a game as rookies. IMO, if Knight gets the 37 min/gm he should be able to avg 15/5/3 next year.

    Its going to be fun watching his rookie year, because there isnt a clear-cut favorite for ROY like there was with Griffin and Wall last year. So Knight will have a legitmate chance to win it from the beginning of the season. I cant stress enough how important it is for him to get the 35+ min/gm. For his own development, for the development of the young core’s chemistry together, for the fans to get them to come out to games, and because I think he just gives them the best chance to win over Stuckey/Bynum at PG. He may be unproven, but Stuckey and Bynum are proven – proven losers at running the point. I dont need to see anymore from them to know we wont win many games with them running the show. Knight should get the start just by default, but more so because he can help us win. We havent had that 3 pt shoooting PG since Chauncey, and he will open up the floor for everybody. Stuckey will be able to drive easier, Monroe will be able to pass easier, it will be key to us winning next year.

  • Jul 6, 20119:19 pm
    by Quick Darshan

    Reply

    A few years ago, you did a piece on how Joe Dumars drafts for wingspan.  With Knight and Terrico White, maybe that’s shifted to precentage of body fat.

  • Jul 6, 20119:32 pm
    by Robbie

    Reply

    That’s crap saying he is too small to play alot of minutes.. Not ahole lot of Pg’s in the NBA are big..Just remember Prince played alot and he was onlt like 210lbs. or 215lbs. and he played a position that you have to play big with the likes of LBJ and Melo ect…..So to some it up Knight will be just fine….

  • Jul 7, 20118:10 am
    by Eric

    Reply

    Since there isn’t going to be a basketball season, he is going to have a while to put on extra muscle, not concerned about his playing time at all.  Knight and Monroe hopefully will be the core of this team.

  • Aug 9, 20111:36 pm
    by geordy

    Reply

    i think that knight should be the starter point guard at the beginning of the season  he and monroe  make more of  dinymic duo and help the piston to be better but to put knight in the bench  make him fustrate and mad he is a top 10 pick  why not put im in the starter lineup like  griifin doo  rose do tyreke do all of those guy who played for caliparie became a good player

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