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Playing for John Calipari increases chance Brandon Knight could out-perform expectations

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus, writing for ESPN Insider, posted some projections for this year’s rookie class based on age/history comparisons to similar players. Here was his take on Brandon Knight:

Brandon Knight: 24.0 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.2 rpg

Knight gets plugged into the combo guard role played by Tracy McGrady for the Pistons a year ago. As compared to his predecessors at the point for John Calipari (Rose, Wall and Tyreke Evans), Knight is not nearly as ready to contribute immediately — especially as a passer. The upside is that all of those players significantly outperformed their rookie-year projections because the NBA’s rules regarding contact on the perimeter made them dangerous off the dribble.

Honestly, I would live with that stat line from Knight as a rookie. Long-term, I obviously hope Knight develops into an impact player. But he only played one season of college basketball and he, like all rookies, may not get much of a training camp depending on how long the lockout drags on. If the Pistons re-sign Rodney Stuckey and Knight is simply asked to be a contributor, not an immediate starter and impact player, I think he’ll do just fine this season.

Hat-tip to commenter RandomGuy313 for the link.

32 Comments

  • Jul 5, 20114:49 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    i wrote a letter to keith langlois that was in part about this. i told him what a cruel and shocking world it would be if stuckey and hamilton are our starting backcourt on opening day (whenever that may be), after he said he thought that would be the case if we started the season with the current roster (god forbid).

    i would almost say that starting knight at the point would be objectively the right decision. also, more or less objectively true are that: (1) stuckey must not start at the point and should only be allowed to have the ball in his hands so long as he’s playing effectively and making good decisions; (2) we can not go into next season without jettisoning at least one guard; and (3) that guard should not be rip hamilton.

    i don’t see the harm in letting this kid learn on the fly. he and monroe– and maybe jerebko, MAAAAYBE daye, still an outside chance of stuckey (uh, i guess)– are the future of this team. this attitude that minutes and roles need to be earned is a nice one in principle, but it’s impossible to argue that it’s been working lately. and it’s hard to imagine it working with this particular core of flawed, one-dimensional veterans and kids. it’s high time we set our sights dead red on the future. throw these kids into the fire and let them learn on the fly. everybody wins.

    • Jul 5, 20115:09 pm
      by Laser

      Reply

      along those same lines: NO MATTER WHAT, the philosophy should not be “finding minutes for brandon knight.” the philosophy should be “finding minutes for the other guards.” the post you guys made a while back about point guards taken in the top ten speaks volumes. they all start, they all play major minutes. it’s not like we have to slide a veteran PG over to make room for him or anything; he’s simply our best option at the position from day one (considering bynum could sprout six inches and an extra arm and he’d still get passed over).

      the pistons need to stop trying to re-invent the wheel here. this philosophy that all basketball players are interchangeable, that “this guy’s not a point guard or a shooting guard, he’s a basketball player” needs to go. it hasn’t worked for the past few years and it’s not going to work in the future. there’s a reason these positions exist and that successful teams adhere to them pretty strictly.

      • Jul 6, 20119:07 am
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        See, I think we’re pretty much getting at the same thing.

        To be clear, I’m not advocating the organization treat Knight as they have most young players, bury him on the bench and give vets every opportunity in the world to hold onto jobs.

        What I do think hurts the development of young players, particularly high lottery picks, is when bad teams play them big minutes early on simply because they were high picks. Now, if you have Griffin/Wall/Rose/Etc, obviously those guys come in as immediate starters. I think Knight is not quite as developed as those guys were coming out of college.

        I don’t want him to get yanked for making mistakes. I don’t want him to be buried on the bench just b/c the Pistons have vets with large contracts. I don’t think that he’s going to learn much about the nuances of PG play by sitting and watching Stuckey or Bynum. But I do hope that he and everyone else on the team has to compete and earn spots. I do think it helped Monroe work harder last year when he was forced to earn minutes early. I think, done right, it can be beneficial.

        • Jul 6, 20119:35 pm
          by Laser

          Reply

          it’s not “simply” that he’s a high pick. add that to the fact that every other candidate for the position is a confirmed dud with years of history in support their impotence. also consider that nobody in their right mind thinks this team is going to make a splash next year anyways, so the team may as well grow along with their new floor leader into something worth watching.

          the issue of competing for spots will continue to be a sticking point. i maintain that open competitions with this roster are anywhere from a myth (in some cases) to an exercise in futility (when you’re picking your poison between players who are roughly as mediocre as the rest of their teammates). at this point, best to establish a logical pecking order based on a useful goal, like attaining respectability again some day, and go from there. if someone plays their way out of the rotation, fine, but give th logical choices first crack.

    • Jul 5, 20118:11 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “i would almost say that starting knight at the point would be objectively the right decision.”

      I’m glad you’ll only almost say it and not fully say it.

      Seriously, Knight should be a starter if he goes into camp and beats someone out. Handing him or any rookie a starting job simply because he’s a lottery pick is “objectively” a mistake. It never works. I don’t want to see Rip Hamilton starting either, but I want him to not start either because he’s traded or Knight legitimately beats him out.

      • Jul 5, 201111:29 pm
        by rob

        Reply

        Knight cant be any worse than Stuckey/Bynum at PG, imo. And Stuckey is going to beat out Rip and Gordon, if he is to play SG next year. So, the only way I could see Knight not starting is if Joe or the new coach decide they want to roll with veterans in the starting lineup, which would be pathetic. But if we hire Woodson, I guess wouldnt be surprised if Rip was starting next year, just like Kuester couldnt say no to him.

        I dont believe in just handing rookie’s starting job/minutes on contending teams, but I fully believe in it on lottery teams, when you’ve been building throught the draft the last couple years, and its you intention to develop a young team. They cant say they are trying to build through the draft, and then turn around and give temporary veterans the majority of the PT because these young guys will never get enough minutes to develop properly.

        The deciding may be Gores though, as he seemed really high on Knight draft night, and demand that his new pick play big minutes so fans will come out.

        • Jul 6, 20118:58 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Rob, I hope he’s better than Stuckey and Bynum. But at 19-years-old, and with the fact that he had some turnover problems last season, I just think it’s expecting a lot for him to come in and be a full-time PG. He might do it, and it will be great if he’s ready.

          But consider:

          - He’ll have no summer league

          - He might have an abbreviated training camp if the Pistons have a lockout

          - The Pistons have no coach, so he doesn’t even know what type of system he’ll be in

          - He wasn’t quite as advanced as Calipari one and doners Wall, Rose and Evans, who all came in and could hanlde big roles right away.

          None of those things are knocks on Knight at all. But, with those things in mind, I don’t think it’s likely that he’ll be better than Stuckey or Bynum right now.

      • Jul 6, 201112:46 am
        by Laser

        Reply

        the reason i say he’s “almost objectively” the best option is that we’ve explored all other available options. stuckey is a dead end at the point, no matter how well he plays in practice or the preseason, bynum is treated like a leper, and they’re knight’s only real competition. nobody’s going to start rip or gordon at the point. knight’s distinction as the only unknown quantity among our guards should give him a leg up over everyone. add to that the fact that based on scouting reports (good shooter and decision maker) he’s probably the best choice on paper, and you’ve got a classic no-brainer.

        i have MUCH less of a problem with rip starting than with knight coming off the bench behind a confirmed dead-end like stuckey. i don’t know what they’re going to do with this backcourt, but you’re not going to go into next season with a rotation of stuckey, knight, gordon and bynum; they’re just too small. given free reign, the pistons probably would have dumped rip, started stuckey and gordon, and learned two years too late that they were an uninspiring combination, regardless of who they had to split minutes and shots with. now that knight is our heir-apparent guard, it’s going to be a lot harder to justify moving a shooting guard who actually has some size, and whose contract is no longer all that bad. personally, i don’t see how the team avoids getting rid of gordon at this point, since he’s the worst contract on our books, can’t run the point, and can sleep in a shoe box. i’d love to be rid of both, but i don’t see how anyone could justify dumping rip over gordon right now.

        as far as outplaying others to earn a role, you should consider that: (a) we have a roster made up entirely of players in the B range. B-plusses, B-minuses, maybe greg monroe is an A-minus. but all these guys are flawed and one-dimensional. you’re picking your poison with anyone, especially the guards; (b) we’ve been playing the “beat out the guy in front of you for minutes” game, and it’s not worked so far. this probably has a lot to do with my first point, but it’s hard to deny that this formula has not worked for this team.

        it’s time to pick a pecking order that’s based on something else, something reasonable, and give it a chance to stick. knight is probably our best option at the point, he’s young and full of potential, he’s a top ten pick, he projects to be our point guard of the future, and we’ve tried everything else. i don’t care if stuckey beats him out at practice; they don’t even play the same position! same with greg monroe. i don’t care if max hustles his heart out and charlie villanueva suddenly develops a pulse, greg should start. until there’s no way to justify it anymore. these guys are young and promising, and they’re the future of this team. maybe you could justify burying them behind veterans if the veterans get the job done, but we’ve seen a lot of these veterans and we know how this season would play out. i’d rather throw these guys into the fire and let them grow than slow their development just because our mediocre veterans are 5% better than them at this point in their respective careers.

        • Jul 6, 201112:57 am
          by Laser

          Reply

          ooh! one more point. gordon may be a good spot-up shooter who can spread the floor, but those guys are an absolute dime a dozen in this league. the reason we signed him and paid him a damn fortune, crippling the team for years to come, is his ability to create his own shot and score in a variety of ways. we’re never, ever going to see the gordon we thought he could be (the guy who scored all over the celtics all those years ago) unless he has the ball in his hands.

          the pistons need to pick a pecking order and go with it. they can’t play this hodgepodge of perimeter players without the “stifling constraint” of having “actual roles” and expect success. plainly put, these guys aren’t good enough individually or collectively to pull that off.

          stuckey beats gordon in the pecking order (we’ve seen plenty of that so far, so let’s stipulate to that), and knight absolutely needs a spot in the rotation. bynum probably gets spot minutes too, and even keith langlois conceded that the franchise values him and gives the team a unique look when he’s out there. that’s three guys in the rotation who need the ball in their hands. gordon makes four. do the math. it just isn’t going to work.

          rip, for his shortcomings and ugly recent history here, never had that problem in his life. he can spread the floor just fine if he picks his spots right (mostly corner threes, i bet), and with good passes and picks, i think he can be an effective mid-range shooter. the one thing about shooting that i’ve learned is that you don’t forget how to shoot. we know rip can shoot. there just aren’t enough basketballs to go around if all of your guards need the ball to be effective.

          i really can’t get over this thirst for rip’s blood everyone has these days. you’d think rip put this roster together.

        • Jul 6, 20113:55 am
          by oats

          Reply

          Ok, I’ll take a shot at this, but man you give me a lot to argue with. Let’s start with the assertion that not starting the young guys some way hinders their development. Sorry, but I don’t get that at all. Refusing to let them play can hinder, sure, but making them earn their play time doesn’t. I can’t fathom doing what you suggest here. You state that you don’t care if they work as hard as the other guys and they worse than the veterans, you want to play the young guys anyways. That just sounds crazy to me. You have to push them to get better, not turn the keys over to them and hope they get better. If they win the job, great. If they get in a tie, give them the play time. If they lose, tell them to go win it. No sense creating entitled players with no real sense of their own accomplishments and no real need to improve.
           
          As for Stuckey, well, I disagree with your assessments of him to an extent. Stuckey is a good basketball player, a starting caliber guard, and has point guard skills. His skills are in line with a decent back up point guard, and when combined with his over all talent make him a starting NBA point guard. Note starting point guard does not mean a good starting point guard. There are 30 teams in the league, and Stuckey is about the 30th best point guard in the NBA (I’d say he ranks somewhere between 28 and 33 with out really looking into the merits of each of player). Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his skills, and marks him as a place we need an improvement on if we want to actually win something, but it does mean he can legitimately be called a starting caliber point guard. That makes Stuckey the perfect bench mark player for Knight to compete against. If Knight can’t beat out Stuckey, then he isn’t ready to start.
           
          I also disagree with your comments on the pecking order. The only reasonable pecking order is one based off of how good the player is. Yes Greg should start, but that is because he is our best player, and not because he is young. Again, this entire thing is based on the notion that playing time is the only way to develop young players. It just isn’t accurate. Fighting to earn the starting job is a very effective means of developing young guys. Meanwhile, throwing guys out there when they haven’t earned it has been demonstrated to fail quite often. Where does this throw guys into the fire despite them not being ready idea come from? I don’t understand it. Going up against players better than you so you can learn your faults and work on improving will get you better. If you get that from practicing against team mates, you don’t need to play in the game. Plus, in practice you can get instant feed back on your performance from the coaching staff.
           
          As for Knight specifically, you keep saying he is a good decision maker. I don’t think that is true. He shot 37% from 3, which is pretty good. He shot 42% from the field. From a guard with the ability to get to the rim that Knight has, and the long distance shot Knight possesses, that is pretty bad. There is a reason for it too. Knight suffers from poor shot selection. Knight also turned the ball over a lot, and his assist numbers were far from spectacular. While admittedly those things can be attributed to other things than decision making, such as Calipari’s wonky offense and Knight’s relatively poor ball handling skills, it doesn’t exactly show good decision making either. I’d say his decision making is at best a question mark as we don’t know how it will fare against stiffer NBA defenses, but I’m leaning towards it being a serious issue of concern early on his career. I’d say it is likely that at the start of the season his decision making will be discernibly worse than Stuckey’s.

          • Jul 6, 201111:55 am
            by Laser

            1) earning your minutes is one thing. being the only “qualified” player at your position (which is another way of saying “a point guard not named will bynum) is another. it’s a farce to send a kid out there and tell him to earn his minutes when (a) hardly anybody else on the roster truly does and (b) the guy is going to be our starting point guard at some time this season. personally, i don’t think it’s “the wrong message” to say it’s his job to lose. if he doesn’t work hard or is less effective than stuckey figures to have been, bench him.

            2) we disagree wildly on stuckey. backup point guard skills (at best) in a shooting guard’s body doesn’t equal a starting caliber point guard. that’s not how it works. size/strength and the ability to run an NBA offense are completely unrelated. his tools should give him physical advantages over opposing guards that he can exploit to compensate for his shortcomings, but we’ve seen him run the offense enough to know that he stinks at it.

            3) any “open competition” we have for starting spots and/or roles off the bench are a charade, because basically everyone on the roster is equally gifted and flawed. there are no stars, nobody who’s even multidimensional, just mediocre role players. if there’s a true ongoing competition to earn minutes, we’re going to see a lot of shuffling, because nobody’s going to have it every week. and shuffling is a bad “Plan A.” plus, touching on what i said before, if rip is a 5% better option than knight, but he’s on the downside of his career and knight projects to have a high ceiling, i’d give him a pass on that insignificant difference in effectiveness. and basically all you’ll find among the players on our roster are insignificant differences and marginal decisions to make. if it’s even close, which it will be, why not go young? there’s no sense in trying to be EVERY BIT as good as you can be now if “every bit as good as you can be” looks like a dark horse candidate to sneak into the playoffs. better to look towards the future and try to be EVERY BIT as good as you can be when that means a chance to make some noise.

            4) on that pecking order: what if monroe goes into a bit of a sophomore slump at the same time maxiell puts together a string of good practices? does he overtake monroe as a starter and first in line for minutes? i just don’t think we can afford to play that game with these questionable decisions. if everyone is playing for their job every week, with no semblance of a pecking order whatsoever, we’re going to have another season where everyone starts at least once and collects several DNP-CDs along the way. nobody’s going to have it every single week, but you need to establish some consistency. other teams don’t have this problem because they have a pecking order, and that’s because good NBA teams have a hierarchy of stars, starters and role players. all we have are role players. even if whoever backs up chris paul outplays paul in two consecutive practices, he’s not taking the starting job without a fight, because new orleans knows paul gives them the best chance, regardless of how he practiced that week. he’d have to get outplayed pretty consistently to lose his job.

            5) as for throwing guys out there, ideally you’d like to have a nice balance. but it’s hard to achieve, and i don’t think you want the roster to dictate the pace at which your young players grow. they should grow based on a plan and what’s best for the individual player. for instance, stuckey was thrown right into the fire and it couldn’t have gone much worse. on the other end, austin daye was buried behind a bunch of unproductive veterans on the perimeter, and two years into his career we have NO idea what we have in this guy? could he be a starter? no clue. at this point i doubt it, but we have no idea. he’s hardly been tested in two full seasons. this is, in part, because tracy mcgrady was a more effective option on a team that needed playmaking. but we still missed the playoffs even though we went with the better player, and tracy’s as good as gone. a one year rental whose only contribution was winning us a few extra games in a pure waste of a season. those minutes would have been better served testing daye a little, regardless of who outplayed the other by a hair.

            6) i’ll leave the knight analysis alone for the most part, because i’m only going on the numbers of an 18 year-old and what i heard about him. you say he had bad shot selection, but it’s my understanding he was asked to shoulder a lot of the scoring burden. that won’t be a problem here. even if he starts off as a worse option than stuckey by a noticeable margin, stuckey is a known quantity who is ultimately going to fail at the position, so i’ll take my chances with the kid. that’s all. we have nothing to gain next season except for the individual growth of the players who will be core pistons when we have a chance to compete again.

            7) if there’s such a thing, develop him at a pace that doesn’t reflect what the roster looks like today, because the roster is awful. it’s not fair to expect a 19 year-old to consistently outplay four other veterans week in and week out. he could be one of our top guards overall, but if he’s our third best guard every single week in practice (with the top two constantly rotating), i’d take that consistency… but he’ll never ever get the chance to start. in front of him at guard are two guys making eight figure annual salaries and a third who’s a year away from a similar paycheck. it’s not exactly a “fair” competition in that regard. nobody faces that kind of uphill battle, because no team in the league has this messy a backcourt, perhaps in NBA history. if we start making decisions about the development of our youth based on the current roster, we’ll be awful forever.

  • Jul 5, 20115:28 pm
    by rob

    Reply

    I was thinking the same thing, Laser. I read that article and was thoroughly disgusted when he said Stuckey/Rip could be our starting backcourt. Honestly though, I sometimes think KL says things just to get a rise out of fans.

    If Knight is not the starting PG from day one, I will be very disappointed. Knight/Stuckey should be the starting backcourt, no if’s, and’s, or but’s. Whether or not we trade Rip/Gordon should have no bearin on this decision. If we have to go through another season  with temporary veterans starting over our long-term young core, I’m going to be pissed. If Rip/Gordon are still here, they can figure out their PT between the two of them on the bench.

    • Jul 5, 20117:28 pm
      by Jason

      Reply

      IF both Rip/Gordon are still on the roster, and you are suggesting that without competition, without analyzing who is giving the most of the offseason, without analyzing who hustles the most, and plays the hardest in practice – that they both be sitting on the bench, you are insane. Call it as you want, just simply the idea of starting guys because they are young, and need to gain experience is absolutely ridiculous. Gordon and Rip are the Pistons TWO HIGHEST PAID PLAYERS – not that it should be the end all be all in the decision making, but it is worthy of a lot of consideration.. If they aren’t traded before the start of the season, we’ll need to at least showcase to teams what they still have in the tank. 

      Now, if Knight/Stuck seem to be the best combo, through pre-season, practice, work ethic, etc., then I have no problem starting them over the higher paid players. But I find that highly unlikely, and believe you are getting waaaay too far ahead of your self here. We’ll need to see where everyone is at, analyze combinations correctly, see what our NEW COACH might offer to the discussion, etc etc etc. To just suggest this soon, before anything named above has even begun to develop, that Knight/Sucks “Should” be the starters, is just non-sense.

      First things first, lets see what a new coach can bring, and hope they have an offensive strategy that can on its own determine the best lineup.. (OR, lets hope that some sort of trade happens, but im not holding my breath…. I’ve done that for far too long, and my face is as purple/blue as can be…)

      • Jul 5, 20118:14 pm
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        I agree 100 percent with your opening line Jason. Giving a young guy a starting spot simply because he’s young and has potential and is a possible future cornerstone is nearly always a mistake.

        Case in point: Stuckey. He was handed a starting job before he’d done much to earn it. I think a case can be made that that hindered his development some. He didn’t have to beat anyone out to earn that starting spot.

        Now, a case can also be made that veterans haven’t had to work particularly hard to hold onto their spots, and that should change as well. All I’m looking for from the next coach is legitimate competition for playing time at each position. The players who work the hardest, play the best defense and play the best should be rewarded with minutes. I would LOVE for Brandon Knight to be one of those players, but I don’t want to see him get big minutes simply because he’s a piece of the future and guys like Hamilton aren’t. I want Knight to legitimately prove he’s ready.

        • Jul 6, 20111:11 am
          by Laser

          Reply

          no doubt stuckey was thrown into the fire way too soon. but that has a lot to do with stuckey (not that good, highly overrated by the organization) and what the available alternatives were. believe it or not, the biggest reservation i had about the chauncey trade at the time (given all the flexibility it afforded us and the question marks that have since been answered with a kick in the dick) was that stuckey could really have used another year under his wing. heck, maybe he would have developed into the player joe thought he’d be by now. i wouldn’t bet on it, but we’ll never know.

          the difference here is that knight doesn’t have a veteran point guard to learn from, and we don’t have a better option at the point. bynum probably deserves a chance to start just once in his life, but we know he’ll never get it. stuckey is a dead-end. rip and gordon aren’t even in the conversation, and tayshaun’s almost certainly signing elsewhere. so we won’t have a repeat of the stuckey situation simply because our options aren’t as desirable as they were then. if we play him behind stuckey, he gets a front row seat for that guy’s bad habits. and nothing else.

          you can’t treat this like a successful veteran team that needs to transition carefully from one generation to the next (like we should have done in 2008). we’re a dysfunctional mess that can’t win games with a team full of highly-paid veterans. we should raze the damn thing to the ground and start fresh. treat ourselves like the young, unproven teams we should be emulating. we’ve seen basically every combination possible of our veterans, and they’ve all been awful. may as well try something new. that idea shouldn’t be hard to get behind.

          it would be a different story if we had proven winners playing ahead of these kids. or even if you could pitch me lineups/rotations that we haven’t watched crash and burn repeatedly.

          • Jul 6, 20114:02 am
            by oats

            I don’t understand this either. Knight won’t be learning from Stuckey no matter what. He can watch Stuckey critically, figuring out what Stuckey does wrong and what Stuckey should do. That is a fine thing for him to do while trying to become a better point guard than Stuckey. Tossing guys out there when they aren’t ready is a proven way to get them to develop bad habits. If Knight is not good enough to be a starting NBA point guard, making him one is not doing him any favors. It really is that simple for me. I don’t care if the other guys keep winning 30 games, it is more important that we get the development of Knight correct. Giving him a job he hasn’t earned is just not a good idea.

  • Jul 6, 20115:40 am
    by Kris

    Reply

    I want Brandon to compete and work his ass off, but he has to get some credit to learn in the process. Do your best and more, make mistakes and learn! I also can’t see him learning anything valuable on the bench behind Stuckey. The only thing that should stop Knight from playing major minutes and starting should be his lack of effort or talent. I expect neither of that. We are barely mediocore team and dysfunctional one. It’s about time for change of guard – literally and metaphorically.
    Having said that, I can see Knight coming of the bench at the begining, but only temporary, to facilitate his transition from short college career, lack of summer league, etc. However if he performs strongly and steadily during training camp (not necessarily outperforms everyone on our long list of guards), let him start right away.

    • Jul 6, 20119:22 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Yeah, I agree with this mostly. It’s not a matter of Knight needing to sit so he can learn from veterans. It’s pretty clear there’s not much the incumbents are going to teach him. But I think it sets a bad precedent with young players to just give them big minutes before their work ethic and effort prove worthy of those minutes. Bad teams do this all the time, which is why they’re always in the lottery. No, the Pistons don’t have great options in front of Knight, but it would be nice to seem him out-compete those guys and immediately prove he’s better than them before he’s given starters minutes.

  • Jul 6, 20115:49 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    Joe did say that he was going to put the ball in Knights hands so reading between the lines i would say that moving forward Knight will be our starting PG. He doesn’t have much competition for the spot and it could get even less if either Gordon or Rip are moved before the season begins. If one of them are moved then obviously Stuckey moves over to SG. I have full confidence that Knight will earn the starting spot with Bynum to back him up off the bench. I also agree with Laser that we should be trying to get rid of Gordon by all necessary. I wouldn’t mind seeing how Rip plays with a better playmaker like Knight. Who knows he might even bring out the best in Rip just like McGrady did at times last season. If the season is totally lost then Rip becomes instantly becomes a valuable trade commodity so we might never see him play with Knight. Maybe if another team deals for Rip and buys him out we could resign him to a reasonable 1 year deal.

    • Jul 6, 20119:15 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “I wouldn’t mind seeing how Rip plays with a better playmaker like Knight.”

      I think it’s a mistake to assume that Knight is going to be a better playmaker than Stuckey or Bynum, and that’s not me saying those guys are fantastic playmakers or anything. Knight struggled as a passer at UK for a good portion of the season. He struggled with turnovers. He’s going to have a learning curve. No, Stuckey and Bynum are not elite options at PG by any stretch, but they are both adequate NBA playmakers who at the very least would get backup minutes on any team in the league, and Stuckey would start at PG for a handful of bad teams.

      I like Knight a lot. I think he’s going to be really good because he’s intelligent and seems to work hard. But it’s a mistake to assume he’s a better option as a starter than what is already on the roster until he actually goes out and proves that he’s better.

      • Jul 6, 201110:08 am
        by gmehl1977

        Reply

        Correct me if i am wrong but i am sure i definitely heard Joe (in the draft wrap) say that they were going to put but the ball in Knights hands. Maybe he won’t be a better playmaker than Stuckey or Bynum straight away but there is no way he would be any worse. Knight to me seems like the kind of player with that drive that will fix that part of his game (turnovers).

        • Jul 6, 201110:57 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Oh, I don’t disagree that he’ll fix the turnovers. He’s smart and hard-working by all accounts. I just don’t think it’s a given that he’ll be an average starter production-wise off the bat. Stuckey will do that if he’s not moved to shooting guard.

          Now if Gordon and/or Hamilton are moved and Stuckey becomes a SG, I think it’s much more likely Knight starts right away. If there are no roster moves though, I think Stuckey starts at PG and Rip or Gordon starts at SG until a trade is made.

      • Jul 7, 201112:41 pm
        by Laser

        Reply

        point of clarification: overvaluing knight and his playmaking ability isn’t a “mistake.” it might be an ill-founded conclusion, or flat-out wrong, but it’s a totally harmless assumption. so i don’t think that rises to the level of a mistake.

        a mistake would be to take action based on this assumption, like when the pistons rushed stuckey to the head of the class and shipped his mentor out of town. the pistons have virtually no flexibility at all, so they’re in little or not danger of making mistakes arising out of a misevaluation of knight.

  • Jul 6, 20117:45 am
    by Murph

    Reply

    Man…I see that we’re already back-peddling as fast as we can, and discounting Knight’s ability to play and start at PG for at least a year.  Now, he will be a contributor as a combo guard off the bench?  And “Knight is not nearly as ready to contribute immediately — especially as a passer.”???

    Great…that didn’t take long.

    We should have taken Walker, who is much more NBA ready.

    • Jul 6, 20119:12 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      In the post, when it says, ‘not nearly as ready to contribute immediately,’ you realize it is saying he’s not as ready to contribute as Wall, Rose and Tyreke Evans were? I mean, there’s no shame in Knight not being as developed as two guys who won rookie of the year and one guy who finished second. That doesn’t mean Knight can’t contribute at all, it just means don’t expect that level of production.

      Knight will be fine, but he, like all rookies this year, will be set back some because of the lockout. The summer league was cancelled and training camp could be significantly shortened if the lockout drags on. He’ll be fine, get good minutes this season and I think he’ll improve, but he’s only 19. For what it’s worth, Kemba Walker isn’t going to play starters minutes either as a rookie.

    • Jul 6, 201110:30 am
      by RandomGuy313

      Reply

      I think the fairest example and where our expectations should be with knight are looking at a guard like Jrue Holiday. Hollinger indicated the following about Jrue after his rookie season:
       
      “Holiday exemplifies the importance of considering age when evaluating players. Normally we’d look and say he had a pretty ho-hum rookie year, but Holiday was the league’s youngest player and improved dramatically as the season wore on. Up until the All-Star break, Holiday had shot 38.2 percent; over the final two months, he averaged double figures and sunk nearly half his shots. The fact he was a halfway decent player at age 19 bodes very well for what he might be when he’s 25.”

      At their age I think Jrue is the better defender but Knight is the better shooter. Want to know Jrue’s rookie season line?

      8pts, 3.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 24 minutes. This season Jrue has jumped to 14-6-4 in 35 minutes. His assist rate is on par with John Wall (http://www.hoopdata.com/passingstats.aspx?team=%25&type=pg&posi=PG&yr=2011&gp=40&mins=25)

      If Brandon can replicate this career track I will be more than satisfied with him quarterbacking this team for the future.

    • Jul 6, 201110:30 am
      by RandomGuy313

      Reply

      I think the fairest example and where our expectations should be with knight are looking at a guard like Jrue Holiday. Hollinger indicated the following about Jrue after his rookie season:
       
      “Holiday exemplifies the importance of considering age when evaluating players. Normally we’d look and say he had a pretty ho-hum rookie year, but Holiday was the league’s youngest player and improved dramatically as the season wore on. Up until the All-Star break, Holiday had shot 38.2 percent; over the final two months, he averaged double figures and sunk nearly half his shots. The fact he was a halfway decent player at age 19 bodes very well for what he might be when he’s 25.”

      At their age I think Jrue is the better defender but Knight is the better shooter. Want to know Jrue’s rookie season line?

      8pts, 3.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 24 minutes. This season Jrue has jumped to 14-6-4 in 35 minutes. His assist rate is on par with John Wall (http://www.hoopdata.com/passingstats.aspx?team=%25&type=pg&posi=PG&yr=2011&gp=40&mins=25)

      If Brandon can replicate this career track I will be more than satisfied with him quarterbacking this team for the future.

  • Jul 6, 201110:31 am
    by RandomGuy313

    Reply

    sry for the double post :/

  • Jul 6, 201111:57 am
    by Laser

    Reply

     

    @oats:

    1) earning your minutes is one thing. being the only “qualified” player at your position (which is another way of saying “a point guard not named will bynum) is another. it’s a farce to send a kid out there and tell him to earn his minutes when (a) hardly anybody else on the roster truly does and (b) the guy is going to be our starting point guard at some time this season. personally, i don’t think it’s “the wrong message” to say it’s his job to lose. if he doesn’t work hard or is less effective than stuckey figures to have been, bench him.

    2) we disagree wildly on stuckey. backup point guard skills (at best) in a shooting guard’s body doesn’t equal a starting caliber point guard. that’s not how it works. size/strength and the ability to run an NBA offense are completely unrelated. his tools should give him physical advantages over opposing guards that he can exploit to compensate for his shortcomings, but we’ve seen him run the offense enough to know that he stinks at it.

    3) any “open competition” we have for starting spots and/or roles off the bench are a charade, because basically everyone on the roster is equally gifted and flawed. there are no stars, nobody who’s even multidimensional, just mediocre role players. if there’s a true ongoing competition to earn minutes, we’re going to see a lot of shuffling, because nobody’s going to have it every week. and shuffling is a bad “Plan A.” plus, touching on what i said before, if rip is a 5% better option than knight, but he’s on the downside of his career and knight projects to have a high ceiling, i’d give him a pass on that insignificant difference in effectiveness. and basically all you’ll find among the players on our roster are insignificant differences and marginal decisions to make. if it’s even close, which it will be, why not go young? there’s no sense in trying to be EVERY BIT as good as you can be now if “every bit as good as you can be” looks like a dark horse candidate to sneak into the playoffs. better to look towards the future and try to be EVERY BIT as good as you can be when that means a chance to make some noise.

    4) on that pecking order: what if monroe goes into a bit of a sophomore slump at the same time maxiell puts together a string of good practices? does he overtake monroe as a starter and first in line for minutes? i just don’t think we can afford to play that game with these questionable decisions. if everyone is playing for their job every week, with no semblance of a pecking order whatsoever, we’re going to have another season where everyone starts at least once and collects several DNP-CDs along the way. nobody’s going to have it every single week, but you need to establish some consistency. other teams don’t have this problem because they have a pecking order, and that’s because good NBA teams have a hierarchy of stars, starters and role players. all we have are role players. even if whoever backs up chris paul outplays paul in two consecutive practices, he’s not taking the starting job without a fight, because new orleans knows paul gives them the best chance, regardless of how he practiced that week. he’d have to get outplayed pretty consistently to lose his job.

    5) as for throwing guys out there, ideally you’d like to have a nice balance. but it’s hard to achieve, and i don’t think you want the roster to dictate the pace at which your young players grow. they should grow based on a plan and what’s best for the individual player. for instance, stuckey was thrown right into the fire and it couldn’t have gone much worse. on the other end, austin daye was buried behind a bunch of unproductive veterans on the perimeter, and two years into his career we have NO idea what we have in this guy? could he be a starter? no clue. at this point i doubt it, but we have no idea. he’s hardly been tested in two full seasons. this is, in part, because tracy mcgrady was a more effective option on a team that needed playmaking. but we still missed the playoffs even though we went with the better player, and tracy’s as good as gone. a one year rental whose only contribution was winning us a few extra games in a pure waste of a season. those minutes would have been better served testing daye a little, regardless of who outplayed the other by a hair.

    6) i’ll leave the knight analysis alone for the most part, because i’m only going on the numbers of an 18 year-old and what i heard about him. you say he had bad shot selection, but it’s my understanding he was asked to shoulder a lot of the scoring burden. that won’t be a problem here. even if he starts off as a worse option than stuckey by a noticeable margin, stuckey is a known quantity who is ultimately going to fail at the position, so i’ll take my chances with the kid. that’s all. we have nothing to gain next season except for the individual growth of the players who will be core pistons when we have a chance to compete again.

    7) if there’s such a thing, develop him at a pace that doesn’t reflect what the roster looks like today, because the roster is awful. it’s not fair to expect a 19 year-old to consistently outplay four other veterans week in and week out. he could be one of our top guards overall, but if he’s our third best guard every single week in practice (with the top two constantly rotating), i’d take that consistency… but he’ll never ever get the chance to start. in front of him at guard are two guys making eight figure annual salaries and a third who’s a year away from a similar paycheck. it’s not exactly a “fair” competition in that regard. nobody faces that kind of uphill battle, because no team in the league has this messy a backcourt, perhaps in NBA history. if we start making decisions about the development of our youth based on the current roster, we’ll be awful forever.

     

    • Jul 6, 20112:05 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      1). So because bad coaches didn’t do a good job letting guys win starting jobs in the past we shouldn’t do it now? I’m confused on this point. I do think it is wrong to say, “You were drafted high so you are entitled to a starting job you have done nothing at all to earn.” Make him come in and earn the job. I also disagree with your claim that he is the only qualified point guard. In fact, you seem to as well since you feel the need to exclude Will Bynum from consideration as the starter on the grounds that he’s Will Bynum. If Knight can’t beat out Bynum/Stuckey, then he’s not more qualified than them. That just seems like common sense to me.
       
      2). I didn’t say Stuckey was a good point guard. I said he was good enough to start. Take a look around the league. There aren’t 30 guys that are clearly better than him. That makes him a starting point guard in a league with 30 teams. Not hard to figure that out. If you want to be good, you need to upgrade the spot from him. Stuckey is good enough that you can give Knight time to earn the starting job by beating him out. Why would we want to turn over the franchise to a guy that can’t beat Stuckey out for the point guard job?
       
      3). I agree we don’t need to reevaluate the roster on a weekly basis. That isn’t the same as not basing the playtime on who earns it. The job is earned based off of cumulative merit. I’m also not so convinced Knight is only insignificantly different than the other guys on roster. He’s shown flashes of having the tools needed, but he is not a finished product by any means. I suspect he’ll be closer 20-40% worse at the start of the season considering he’s a one and done player coming in on a season that will likely have next to no prep time due to the lockout. I’m hoping he finishes the season at about 10-20% worse than our other options.
       
      4) Again, it seems like you are worrying about something that won’t happen. If Monroe goes into a sophomore slump, he’ll play like he did in November or so. That level is still better than anything Maxiell has done in a few years. I’d also point out that the starting job should be based on cumulative merit, and I can’t fathom two of Detroit’s players beating out Monroe with that criteria without a regression worthy of benching him for. Considering Monroe is our best power forward and best center, Maxiell alone couldn’t knock him out of a starting spot. If Monroe is clearly being outperformed by Maxiell and Wallace, then go ahead and bench him. Again, I’m not talking about a couple of nice weeks in practice, and never made any claims suggesting that was what I had in mind. My complaints was that you were suggesting the common sense pecking order not be based on merit. I agree that you don’t throw out all of your talent evaluation on a weekly basis, there should be some carry over. As for everyone starting once and wracking up DNP-CD, I disagree with that too. Assuming minutes are given out based on cumulative merit, that shouldn’t happen unless there is another walk out. Kuester was either over reacting to every little thing, or he was responding to an insubordinate club. I suspect our next coach won’t be Sean Penn (a reported nick name for Kuester, as he was a dead man walking), so the insubordination should be greatly reduced.
       
      5) I actually defend Kuester in this regard. First of all, I don’t think McGrady and Prince outplayed Daye by only a hair. I think they were flat out better than he was. Secondly, I don’t mind not knowing exactly what we have in Daye. Daye is a project player going into his third year in the league, of course we don’t know what we have in him. If we threw him out there his lack of strength or quickness likely would have exposed the flaws in his game, and it still wouldn’t tell us what we have in him because he is not a finished product yet. However, his confidence may have been screwed up by playing poorly, or maybe his excessive playing time could convince him he is better than he is and screw him up that way. I’d to see more of Daye this year, and I want him to earn the right to play. If he can’t beat out Singler to at least eke out decent minutes as a backup small forward (assuming we add a front court player and allow Jerebko to play there), then I think we have our answer as to what kind of player Daye is.
       
      6). It appears our relative assessments of Knight differ significantly if you think he’s going to be 5% worse than Hamilton. I believe our diverging opinions of Knights readiness as an NBA player is the biggest reason we disagree on this issue. I’ll concede there are several contributing factors to Knights poor numbers. I’m not suggesting Knight is a bad player, I just think some people take their infatuation with him much too far. He’s got the skills to be a good player in the future, if he puts everything together. Most people seem to think he’s already a starting caliber point guard despite the fact that his college career doesn’t make him look much like one. Knight is a project player. None of his point guard skills are up to par yet. In college he was bad at assisting his teammates, bad at avoiding turnovers, showed poor ball handling skills, and was inefficient as a scorer. He made progress as the year went on, he is a hard worker, and he is a smart kid. I like his chances of being good down the line. I also think this stat line that was generated is pretty close to what I’d expect of him this year, and I’m good with that. I just wish people would be more realistic with their assessments of the kid.
       
      7) I honestly think there is a chance that regardless of our roster he will be better served spending the year as a backup. If we trade Rip or Ben we’ll still have enough guards that I still advocate not giving him the starting job until he can beat out Stuckey. If we somehow dumped both of them, Detroit will probably look to add a veteran guard at a low cost, if not get at least a guard back in any trade involving those two. If the guard added isn’t good enough to start, I’d still expect Knight to beat out Bynum. I really do think it is not too much to ask him to beat out Stuckey for a starting job.

      • Jul 6, 20112:19 pm
        by Dan Feldman

        Reply

        Excellent comment, Oats.

      • Jul 6, 201110:04 pm
        by Laser

        Reply

        1) i happen to think an open competition is, for this particular roster of equally mediocre candidates, essentially a waste of time. you’ll never build any chemistry without consistency, and you’ll never have consistency if everyone is playing for their jobs week after week. the bottom line is that basketball is a streaky game, so nobody on this roster is going to outplay the guy behind him every single week. sometimes big ben is going to absolutely kill it in practice and look like a former defensive player of the year, while monroe is going to struggle. sometimes rip is going to get on a roll while ben gordon can’t buy a bucket. sometimes stuckey is going to look like our best player. sometimes even charlie v will look more valuable than jonas, if he’s shooting hot. there’s no hierarchy to fall back on, no clear starting five or anything close to it. may as well create a pecking order based on what this team wants to accomplish, and let the most logical candidates have first crack until they lose their jobs.

        2) stuckey is not good enough to be a starting point guard in the NBA. that’s been established. joe dumars had unlimited options and built a team around the kid, and the only thing he’s done consistently is fall flat on his face.

        3) so if it’s not week-to-week, what then? how many weeks does everyone get? and do we just hand out jobs based on training camp? that’s how austin daye became our starting power forward. and his replacement was maxiell. forgive me for not trusting the formula.

        4) the “common sense” pecking order is based on merit. i’m all about merit. it’s just not a slave to merit. if knight is, say, a 10% worse option than ben gordon for a spot in the rotation, i think you have to grade him on a curve (being that he’s barely pubescent) and give him the nod. it’s not a big enough difference to bench him for a veteran who will never improve. there’s nothing wrong with considering things like a player’s ceiling, the need to get them minutes and develop them, the team’s ambitions in the long and short term.

        5) daye is going into his third year; his flaws are well past exposed. but a team with ZERO hope for the playoffs or a .500 record should have developed him more by now. we drafted three (!) small forwards in the same draft two years ago, in anticipation of the hole we’ve just developed at that position. and what we have to show for it is a tweener who’s probably entrenched as a power forward, fond memories of dajuan summers’s gorgeous eyebrows, and the skinniest question mark in league history. small forward should not have been a hole going into this draft, but it was. a big one, too. drafting a project small forward in the middle of the first round is one thing; testing him exactly ZERO times in two years is inexcusable.

        6) i’m not riding all that high on knight, and the 5% was just a random number to illustrate the minor difference between how mediocre all of our guards are. my main issue is that we’ve seen loads of all our other point guard options, and they’re awful. so knight gets a chance in my book by default.

        7) i’ve never met you, but i think there’s at least a chance i’d let you start at point guard over stuckey. i’ve seen enough of his game management to know i’d rather just end my life tomorrow than watch this team give him first crack again.

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