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Brandon Knight becoming a better passer

My eyes tell me Brandon Knight, despite the ups and downs of his rookie year, has become a better passer this season. The numbers agree.

Assists are blue, and turnovers are red:


  • Mar 1, 201212:31 pm
    by neutes



  • Mar 1, 201212:45 pm
    by Mike Payne


    Per minute assist numbers look steady to me, no significant growth aside from bouncing back after game 10.  Next, given that much of Knight’s turnovers come on isolation plays, does the slight drop in turnovers really suggest he’s becoming a better passer?  If you had exact numbers for “bad passes”, the graph might actually suggest what your title is saying.  Since it’s turnovers in general, not sure I’m buying into improvement yet.

    • Mar 1, 20122:35 pm
      by brgulker


      This was exactly what I was going to say. A decline in turnovers by itself doesn’t suggest improved passing. It simply implies a decline in turnovers.

  • Mar 1, 20121:12 pm
    by frankie d


    the thing to remember is that this is the first time he’s probably been given any real coaching, as far as being a point guard is concerned.
    all you have to do is look at caliperi’s line of “point guards” to realize that he obviously does not actually teach his point guards how to be point guards.  look at evans, rose, wall and now knight.  they all play the same way.  or at least, right out of college they played the same way.  there were differences based on size and athleticism – evans played a bit different because he was so big, wall played a certain way because of his speed – but they essentially were all right-hand dominant one-on-one players who could get their own shot and maybe throw a bail-out pass if their shot was not there.
    knight is the only one who even has a good outside shot.  and i’m sure he brought that with him to kentucky.
    so i would be very patient with knight because of that fact.  i’d at least want to see what he looks like next season.
    hopefully, he’ll have a checklist of things to work on over the summer – learning to dribble with his left hand,  learning how to change speeds, keeping his dribble alive, running the pick and roll – and he appears to be smart enough and competitive enough to eagerly take on his new tasks.
    if i’m joe dumars, i give him a bunch of steve nash and chris paul videos and tell him to study those things till his dvr dies.  
    i’d be willing to bet that he will work hard on his game, work on his weaknesses and come back next season vastly improved as a point guard.  his intelligence and competiveness make that a real probability.
    one thing is very obvious even now.  when he gets into a game that challenges him he raises his level of intensity.
    whether it is because he’s playing against deron williams or kyrie irving or kemba walker or placed in any other challenging situation or matchup, he becomes even more locked in than he normally is.
    that speaks well for his willingness to put in the work that’s going to be required for him to become a really good point guard.

    • Mar 1, 20122:37 pm
      by brgulker


      all you have to do is look at caliperi’s line of “point guards” to realize that he obviously does not actually teach his point guards how to be point guards.  look at evans, rose, wall and now knight.  they all play the same way.

      Personally, I think you can look at this another way. In the college game, freak athletes can be dominant, even if their skills aren’t refined. It appears to me that Calipari recruits the best athletes in the world to play PG, even if their skills aren’t refined, because being able to outrun and outjump your competition can take you all the way in the NCAA.

      • Mar 1, 20123:34 pm
        by frankie d


        @ brgulker
        that is obviously caliperi’s way of handling the situation, and it certainly has been very successful at the college level.
        i do think, however, that it does a disservice to the young players who come through his program.  
        kentucky – and most elite BB programs – is graduate school for elite high schoolers.  they go there to get experience and prepare for a career in the nba.  now, while they get a chance to showcase their athleticism, and whatever talents and skills they bring with them, they move on to the next level woefully unprepared to play the point.  which is why tyreke evans is going through a bit of difficulty now.  and why john wall is having such a tough time.  and why you see knight having his difficulties.
        even rose, the best of the bunch is a very flawed point guard.  great BB player, but still, after 4 years, learning some of the basics of playing his position.  like how to pass to an open man when the entire defense collapses on you.
        contrast that with a guy like kyrie irving.  while he’s not quite the freak athlete that a guy like rose or evans or wall is,  or i don’t think he’s quite as athletic as knight,  but he’s not far behind.
        and there is no question that he’s benefited from good coaching, coaching that has prepared him to play his position in the nba.
        as a matter of fact, if you look at most, if not all duke point guards in the nba, you see a basic skill set that allows them to perform at a basic, competent level, regardless of their athleticism.
        that is good coaching, obviously, and one would hope that a guy running an elite program like kentucky would at least try to prepare his guys for the next level.  for their sake.   it doesn’t  look like caliperi even tries.

        • Mar 1, 20123:51 pm
          by frankie d


          my main point is not to dog caliperi.  he does what he does and it works for him.
          i just think that fans and organizations just have to be a bit more patient and forgiving of guys who come out of his program because the players, no matter how talented, don’t get basic, competent college-level coaching. 
          this is especially true of point guards, who have the toughest job of all on a BB court, and who need good coaching most.

  • Mar 1, 20121:22 pm
    by Matt


    The turnovers going down is promising to see, but if he’s going to be a point guard you would like to see more of an increase to his assists. I don’t see him as a 2 guard in the nba with his size. If he could get to 7-8 assists a game that would be great.

    • Mar 1, 20124:04 pm
      by Garrett


      He’s 6’4″, taller than Monta Ellis, Jason Terry, OJ Mayo, etc. Height isn’t really a concern for the 2-guard spot. If he can average at least 6 assists and 3 or fewer TOs, that’s acceptable.

      • Mar 1, 201211:01 pm
        by Mike Payne


        I was certain Knight was 6’3″, so I checked.  BR, Yahoo, ESPN all show him as 6’3″.  And comparing Knight to Ellis, Terry and Mayo isn’t a great endorsement should Knight spend time at the 2.  Terry is a cross-positional sixth man, same as Mayo.  Ellis is also cross-positional, but plays as a starter for a backcourt which has always been troubled defensively.  That’s where short shooting guards are problematic– on the defensive end.

  • Mar 1, 20127:27 pm
    by Max


    It seems to me that there are times when Knight is not being asked to play a true point guard role so overall per minute numbers are a little deceiving.   Sometimes, Stuckey is still the point guard and he gets the assists.
    Personally, I don’t know why anyone is looking for Knight to be a Nash like point guard with how he looks and the presence of Stuckey anyway because they can continue to take turns in that regard and be successful.  Very few championships have been won by a high usage point guard and the two guards have somewhat complimentary skill sets.
    As the team grows, my assumption is that Monroe will take on an ever increasing role and the team may well draft a better play than Knight in June–or is it July this year?  If so, Knight might never have to be better than the team’s third or fourth best player for the Pistons to be great again.  He doesn’t have to be Nash and Paul and it might be counterproductive for him to try because their style of play depends on league high usages.

  • Mar 2, 20123:09 am
    by mike


    knight’s assist will be at 5 before the season ends and if we get a player in the draft like robinson henson barnes or mkg…..or if luck is really on our side,somehow we get the number 1 pick and draft davis or drummond. i predict next year he could avg numbers like 18ppg and 6-8 apg but im impressed with his rebounding and i don’t think any other rookies have had 3 no turnovers games and 2 of those being double double games knight will be a all-star.

  • Mar 2, 201210:50 am
    by Packey


    I’ve argued he’s improved, albeit marginally, over at DBB, too.
    He was averaging 3.4 assists per game in January and went up to 3.7 in February in fewer minutes. That’s an improvement per minute.
    Also, to show that a decrease in turnovers certainly does have to do with his passing, 82games breaks up the number of turnovers by offensive fouls, bad passes, and ball handling turnovers. It’s missing 11 of his 93 as of me writing this, but 46 of the 82 accounted for Brandon Knight turnovers are the result of bad passes.

  • Mar 2, 20125:14 pm
    by mike


    knight would be avg 6-8 apg this year if we had a guy that could play above the rim and catch alley oops. maxiell can but he is undersized and his hands are really bad. nash westbrook lin paul, j.wall apg are high because they all have centers or pf like blake griffin chandler, javale mcgee who play above the rim or consistent shooters like durant or k.love. so i’m not worried about his assist because whoever we draft will help raise that and he is the smartest rookie out of his class which helps his on the court smarts improve rapidly.

    • Mar 2, 20125:23 pm
      by frankie d


      excellent points.
      especially about the big man and the role such a player could play in detroit’s offense.
      not only would that type of player help knight’s assist numbers, but i think it would remake the rest of the team in a dramatically positive way.
      monroe would also get 2-3 more assists per game.

    • Mar 3, 20128:47 am
      by tarsier


      People like to say such things, but the evidence really doesn’t bear it out. Rarely does a change of teammates make any significant difference on a point guard’s ability to get assists. The fact of the matter is that the worst shooting team in the league is shooting over 40% and the best shooting team is under 50%. That’s a significant difference and could get a PG from 4.2 apg to 4.8 apg perhaps, but it won’t skyrocket anyone by multiple assists per game. The notion that Moose would get 2-3 more is particularly absurd. I don’t believe a change of teammates has ever, ever enabled a player to  double his apg.

      Also, as for the examples given: Nash does not have a very athletic team. Who plays above the basket? Warrick? Not much from Frye or Gortat. Paul has an insanely athletic team but his assists are at a career low except for his rookie season. Westbrook’s apg is high?!?! Have you seen his stats? He is getting under 6 apg.

      A good PG can get assists, regardless of his teammates. Are some better suited to allowing him to collect assists than others? Sure, those who finish lobs well and catch and shoot players. But teams have enough players that it tends to balance out pretty well. If you wanna say Knight’s assists are low because of his teammates, at most say that on a nother team he’d get an additional 0.5 apg.

      • Mar 3, 20122:34 pm
        by frankie d


        i’m not a statistician and i won’t play one here.
        but i have watched a fair amount of basketball over the years.
        are you telling me that monroe’s assists would not increase a great deal if he had another big guy to toss the ball to?
        that chris paul’s numbers did not take a dive when tyson chandler left, and paul didn’t have that kind of player to catch his lobs?  
        now, if you want to look at sheer numbers, paul’s assist numbers when he played with chandler were the best of his career. 11.6  and 11.0.  and they took a steady dive from that high, right after chandler left, by a factor of almost 3.  now, i’m not saying it’s all because chandler is not there to catch those alley oop passes and get paul a bunch of easy dimes each game, but it’s absurd to think that does not matter.
        when, say, pau gasol has bynum healthy and playing well, he gets a bunch of assists simply by dumping passes into bynum in the low post.  
        and paul has even commented on the fact that he loved tossing those easy lobs to chandler and how much easier it made his life as a point guard.
        in today’s nba, if you have an athletic big guy, with good hands, and a guy who can deliver lobs, you can get a lot of easy buckets. your big guy gets an easy two points and your assist guys get easy assists.
        and yes, i think it is perfectly reasonable to think that monroe, if paired with a big man like, say, chandler or deandre jordan, could get 2 -3 assists per game simply by playing the same kind of high/low game that gasol and bynum play with LA.  with the right big man pairing and the right offense, monroe could easily get the kind of numbers a guy like chris webber got.  webber was getting 5+ assists per game in his best years.  monroe is easily capable of such numbers.
        now how that kind of improvement looks statistically, i have no idea, nor do i care.  but i do know that such a player, paired with monroe,  would be an extremely effective combination.

        • Mar 3, 20124:15 pm
          by tarsier


          Your Chandler point would make a lot more sense if Paul’s assists came back up when he moved to Clipperland. But they feel further. And as I stated, I fully believe players get more or less assists based on their teammates, I just think it is by a much smaller margin than you imply as your comments said that Monroe’s assists would double and Mark’s said that Knight’s would double. No Javale McGee/Tyson Chandler/DeAndre Jordan can have anywhere close to that much impact.

          • Mar 3, 20125:08 pm
            by frankie d

            i never said that monroe’s numbers would double.  i simply said he’d get 2-3 more assists per game simply because he’d have someone to toss the ball to.  i don’t think that is unreasonable, considering how many times maxiell fumbles those types of passes now.  give monroe someone like chandler to catch the ball and those 2 or 3 fumbled passes become baskets and assists for monroe.
            i think it is too early to draw any conclusions about paul’s numbers – of any fashion – with the clippers.  for one thing, paul played off the ball quite a bit when chauncey was playing.  i saw the clippers a lot, and when chauncey was in the game, paul typically deferrred to him, unless they were running specific stuff through paul.  now that chauncey is out and paul is playing more of the point, we’ll get more of an idea about how paul uses guys like jordan and griffin.  also, it takes a half a year, at least, for guys to get accustomed to each other and develop the type of chemistry and awareness that helps that type of play. 
            is the impact of a guy like chandler less than what i’ve imagined?
            who knows.  that certainly could be the case.
            i do know that a player of that sort provides a very valuable weapon for both a guard like paul and a big man like monroe.
            especially in today’s nba.  back in the day, defenders would never let guys just catch lobs and dunk like they do nowadays.  they would lay guys out, with hits that could easily threaten a guy’s career.  one of the easiest ways to provide a disincentive in the old days was a sharp elbow to the ribs, when a big guy would extend for a pass near the rim. 
            with the changes in the rules, big guys can’t pound on offensive players like that, or else they risk flagrant fouls, expulsion and worse.  now, that  offensive player can sky to the rim without fear of a bill laimbeer under-cutting him or breaking a rib with an elbow and putting him in the hospital.
            nowadays, some of the easiest, simplest and best half court offense is a simple lob to the rim, if you have a big guy who can get up there and catch that pass.

          • Mar 4, 20129:19 am
            by tarsier

            2-3 more assists per game is doubling for monroe. he averages 2.5 apg. just like if knight got 6-8 that would be doubling his. knight gets about 3.5 apg.

  • Mar 3, 201211:11 am
    by khandor


    Over the next few seasons, as Knight’s game continues to develop at the NBA level – and his turnovers go down, while his shooting percentages improve – the bulk of Pistons fans will begin to appreciate more what they have in this young man, i.e. a highly talented and stable PG for the next decade. Each day that goes by, he will become a better player.

    • Mar 3, 201212:09 pm
      by tarsier


      That’s the hope, but it’s hardly a certainty.

      • Mar 3, 20126:26 pm
        by khandor


        IYO, what in life involves more than hope, pertaining to an event that will take place sometime in the future?
        NOTE1: From my perspective, the correct answer to this specific question is … very little, if anything, at all. Facts are, quite literally, buried in the past.
        Based on what he’s shown, thus far, as a pro player … IMO, the chances are now pretty good that Brandon Knight will, indeed, continue to get better and become a very solid PG in the league for years to come.
        Perhaps the more important question then becomes … Just HOW good is he likely to become, relative to the other PGs in the league, both, right now [e.g. Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd, Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, Jameer Nelson, Ty Lawson, Devin Harris, Stephon Curry, Darrin Collison, Tyreke Evans, Jeremy Lin, Raymond Felton, Brandon Jennings, Mike Conley, Jose Calderon, Jeff Teague, Luke Ridnour/Ricky Rubio, John Wall, Derek Fisher], and, possibly, in the future [e.g. Tony Wroten, Jr.]? … BEYOND his immediate group of peers [e.g. Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Norris Cole, Reggie Jackson, Chris Jenkins, etc.]
        NOTE2: From my perspective, the correct answer to this specific question will be … Once he reaches his peak performance years, he will most likely be 1 of the Top 5 PGs in the entire NBA. As time passes it will be interesting to see if my assessment of him turns out to be right or wrong.

        • Mar 4, 20129:26 am
          by tarsier


          You’re right of course, on a philosophical level. But for instance, the Thunder don’t need to hope that Durant will be a fantastic player for them for several more years. I suppose there is a chance he could get freak injured or Sam Presti could lose his marbles and deal him. But Durant is already there. Similarly, I suppose Cleveland can really only hope that Irving becomes a star (because I certainly wouldn’t say he is one yet), but it seems incredibly likely that that hope will come true. As in, it would be shocking if it didn’t. Knight, on the other hand, sometimes looks great and sometimes looks terrible. I fully expect him to develop into a starting caliber PG. But I don’t see any reason to expect more than that. Would it be shocking if he were better? No, but it wouldn’t be if he wasn’t either. Let’s just say many rookie PGs have played better than he does now, and most of them did not become stars. Some of them did. Let’s wait and see on Knight before declaring him a franchise cornerstone.

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  • Actually when someone doesn’t understand then its up to other people that they will assist, so here it happens.

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