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