Though the Pistons are finishing a lousy season, they still have players who deserve at least consideration for post-season awards, and we’re going to tell you why. But because we don’t receive a paycheck from the Pistons, we’re not going to stop there like they would if they conducted this campaign themselves. We’re also going to evaluate whether the player actually deserves the honor.
Here’s our look at Brandon Knight for All-Rookie team.
Making the case
Patrick Hayes: I argued early in the year that if you pay too much attention to Knight’s stats, you’ll never be able to enjoy watching him play this season. So, for that reason, it would be silly for me to try and make an argument for him based on his advanced stats.
He’s probably near the bottom of the top 10 if I were to rank rookies based on their impact this season. His passing is still lagging behind, he hasn’t proven he can be a full-time point guard yet and, although he improved later in the season, he turns it over too often.
But I would also argue that no rookie other than maybe Kyrie Irving or Ricky Rubio was asked to do more this season than Knight. Knight came into the NBA clearly raw, clearly needing time to learn his position and clearly a notch below Irving and Rubio in his rookie point guard class. Knight was a backup for just over a week before an injury to Rodney Stuckey put him in the starting lineup.
Knight has had ups and downs all season, but he’s played hard, he’s had a few fantastic games, he’s cut down his turnovers from the beginning of the year when he was a turnover machine and he’s shot the three really well. Plus, he leads all rookies in minutes played and has been incredibly durable.
Dan Feldman: Knight shouldered a heavier burden this season than any rookie save Irving and Rubio. By far, he played the most minutes among rookies this season – 300 more than anyone else. That counts. When on the bench, other rookies weren’t helping their teams.
And Knight played hard for nearly all those minutes. His energy and hustle definitely provided indirect value for the Pistons.
Knight made 3-pointers at an impressive clip, and his passing greatly improved throughout the season. He played within in the game, and perhaps, that somewhat limited his stats. For the most part, Knight appeared to understand his limitations and didn’t force things, leaving more capable veterans to do the heavy lifting.
Patrick Hayes: He’s definitely on the second team. No question in my mind. It’s hard to put him on the first team — I think Irving, Rubio, Kenneth Faried, MarShon Brooks and Isaiah Thomas are locks for the first team.
It’s not that the second team isn’t going to be competitive as Knight, Chandler Parsons, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson and Tristan Thompson all have legit claims.
I think Knight has been asked to do much more than most of those guys, though, and reasonably deserves to make it.
Dan Feldman: I sort of think Knight will make the All-Rookie second team, but that’s far from a given. I know I didn’t seriously consider him for the TrueHoop Network All-Rookie first team, and he didn’t make my second-team cut, either. I don’t think Knight as a second teamer would’ve been egregious, but to me, he wasn’t especially close.
Knight is promising, sharing many of the tools of a successful NBA player. But he wasn’t ready to bring them all together this year. All-Rookie teams honor the 10 best rookies, not the 10 most-promising rookies. Knight would probably make the latter list, but he’s a borderline candidate at best for the former.
He turned the ball over too much, didn’t defend nearly as well as his frame suggests he can and had a too-often one-dimensional offense.
That said, I suspect Knight make the actual All-Rookie second team. His scoring average ranks second among rookies, and unfortunately, that’s often too good an indicator for award voting.
Knight left Kentucky after one year, got drafted into a league headed for a lockout that shortened training camp and then was thrust into the starting lineup early in his career. For that, he got valuable experience and millions of dollars. The cost? my All-Rookie vote. I think Knight came out ahead.
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