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Brandon Knight’s trademark maturity on display during interview at basketball camp

Wixom, Mich. — At Brandon Knight’s basketball camp on July 28, it didn’t take long to witness the maturity that has those who see him up close on a daily basis insistent that he’s going to maximize his potential.

Knight, who won’t turn 21 until December, was busy interacting with and posing for pictures with kids who in some cases were not a whole lot younger than him. Knight partnered with Pro Camps to do the camp in Michigan, and his first response to a question about why he wanted to be a part of the camp hinted at the fact that Knight is mature beyond his years, as numerous profiles of him have indicated.

“I did one at home (in Florida) and wanted to do one in Detroit as well,” Knight said. “I just want to give back to the community and give kids an opportunity that I had when I was younger to go to camp and just learn some new things. Basketball is something you can do on your own, do drills on your own, so it gives them a chance to learn some drills that they can take with them.”

He also gave a response about the nature of the camp itself sure to please basketball purists, who often complain that the teaching of fundamentals at the youth level is a lost art.

“The camps I went to (as a kid) were mostly just to play,” Knight said. “They weren’t really instructional. These type of camps (Pro Camps) are more to teach the fundamentals and drills they can go do on their own and try and get better.”

Despite the relevant statistical criticisms of Knight that are out there (namely, that he turns it over too much and doesn’t get enough assists for a starting point guard), I’m a huge believer that a player with Knight’s match of talent and work ethic is a good long-term investment for the Pistons.

Knight answered several questions on a variety of topics. Rather than trying to mash his quotes all into one story, below is a breakdown of some of the things he discussed. As you’ll see, Knight has a pesky habit of always saying the right thing, and that makes it really hard not to believe in him.

The Brandon Knight-Rodney Stuckey backcourt

The Pistons are banking on Knight improving significantly enough to be a key part of a contending team at some point in the future. They are invested in Stuckey after re-signing him to a lucrative deal last offseason. Both players have their detractors among Pistons fans, but for better or worse, this is the team’s starting backcourt for the foreseeable future. And actually, I’m pretty confident it can work.

Knight shot 37 percent from 3-point range as a rookie. He shot around that same percentage in his one college season. For the criticisms of his game as a rookie, pretty much everyone, critic or not, agrees that the most significant skill he brought to the table last season was his spot-up shooting. Next to a guard like Stuckey, who is most effective when he’s bulldozing his way into the lane and drawing contact, it’s vital that the Pistons have spot-up shooters. So if you’re committed to Stuckey as one of your starting guards, Knight does possess the main skill I would think you would look for in the other starter. In fact, shooting ability is the reason the Pistons originally viewed Ben Gordon as the ideal compliment for Stuckey, back when Stuckey was considered the team’s point guard of the future. Unlike Gordon, though, Knight is more versatile and bigger, so he shouldn’t be the long-term defensive liability Gordon proved to be.

During the season, Stuckey mentioned his plans to get to know Knight better this summer and work with him a lot. They also developed a good relationship during the season as they played together. Knight says that bond has strengthened this summer.

“This summer has been chemistry building really,” Knight said. “Just spending a lot of time around each other on and off the court, working out with one another and building bonds. As you get close to someone, you can talk to them even more on the court, relate to them more on the court. When you work an entire summer with a guy in the trenches, when it gets time for games to start, that continues.”

Joe Dumars has talked several times over the years about his belief that traditional views of basketball positions are out-dated. There is good evidence to support that — the point guard position, in particular, has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. In Knight and Stuckey, the Pistons might not have an individual starting point guard. But within their two skillsets, they probably come out of it with close to a full point guard and a full shooting guard. That versatility — having two players who can score or alternate running the offense — could prove to be an advantage for how the Pistons attack teams should they continue to work on complementing each other’s skills.

“It gives a big advantage,” Knight said. “It makes our rotation more versatile. He can play the one or the two, I can do the same thing. It adds versatility to the guard position.”

Getting a real offseason

Heading into last season, the plan for the Pistons was to rely on veteran guards while implementing the rookie Knight slowly off the bench. That plan was scrapped pretty early as injuries forced Knight into the starting lineup. The Pistons kept him as their starter the entire season and perhaps no rookie in the league was thrown to the wolves, ready or not, more than Knight. There were times he looked good. There were games he looked lost. But the Pistons remained committed to playing him regardless of his performance fluctuations because the one thing he consistently displayed was a tireless work ethic.

Amid all of the wildly different opinions on Knight last season, something I think often got lost that he deserved more credit for was simply his durability. Many rookies broke down, battled injuries and missed games during a brutal, sprint of a lockout-shortened NBA season. Knight had a larger workload than any rookie, played through pain and didn’t miss a game.

On top of that, the Pistons didn’t have a coaching staff or system in place when he was drafted and he didn’t have an offseason program to get ready. Now, he gets to build on that rapid fire learning experience as a rookie with a full offseason and a coaching staff whose expectations he knows and a system he has a year of experience in.

“It gives me a lot of not just confidence, but being comfortable,” Knight said. “With the lockout, not being able to do a (full) training camp, just learning everything on the fly, it kind of puts you in some discomfort. It added some adversity. I think our team as a whole was at a disadvantage. We had a new system, new players, new coaches and we had to get used to them. Now that we know what to expect, know our system better and know what it takes for our team to win games, I think we’ll be more prepared at the start of this season.”

Although Knight is excited for the season to start, he’s also still working to maximize what is left of the summer before training camp.

“Once I heard that it (the schedule) came out, I definitely got excited about starting the season,” he said. “We still have a little bit of offseason left. I enjoy the offseason. That’s when you get better. We have a lot of guys working hard, we added a lot of new pieces and I’m just confident in what we’re going to be able to do this year. We have a lot of guys who are hungry, and I know myself and the other guys are tired of having lackluster performances. We’re just ready to have a good season.”

Rebuilding a locker room

At their peak in the 2000s, the Pistons were known for having one of the most harmonious, drama-free locker rooms in the NBA, perhaps in all of major pro sports. It’s also one of the many things that has withered away with the team’s decline.

Veteran players grew mistrustful of management after the Chauncey Billups trade. They publicly belittled the coach. They mutinied. There were rumors of a locker room divide between veteran players and young players. In the past year, the front office has worked to heal those wounds, and Knight’s, Greg Monroe‘s and Jonas Jerebko‘s presences as hard-working, humble young players have played a big part in improved chemistry behind the scenes and earning the respect of veteran teammates.

Knight noted that the infusion of youth on the roster should help make practices even more competitive, specifically that young players need to prove and establish themselves as NBA players and are possibly fighting for roster spots in some cases while veterans are already established.

“Last year I had those type of (younger) guys around me, it’s just I didn’t know Greg as well, didn’t know Vernon Macklin as well,” Knight said. “I didn’t know a lot of the older players. Just overall, having a year to know and relate to guys better and having more guys around your age will make practices a little more competitive, a little more athletic, with guys not really having an excuse to not get after it. Younger guys have more of a sense of, ‘I have to get in practice to prove myself.’ Older guys work hard, but they don’t need to make a name for themselves in practice. Having younger guys definitely will help us get better, but for me, I’m gonna be comfortable with all the guys there.”

The Pistons of the 2000s peak were famous for having an edge, for bonding over a collective experience that other teams gave up on them or deemed them expendable. They rallied around that shared NBA experience and used it as motivation. This new Pistons core, though much younger, could regardless share that attitude.

Monroe fell further than expected in the 2010 draft. Knight fell further than expected in 2011. Andre Drummond fell further than expected in 2012. Hopefully, it creates a similar rallying point.

“It motivates you,” Knight said. “As soon as you come out of college, it’s something that you use and you always look back on for motivation. For me and Greg and even Andre, our biggest thing is we want to change the culture here in Detroit. That’s our main thing. Every time me and Greg come in the locker room, we don’t want to lose. We hate losing. We want to get Detroit back to where it was. It will take a lot of hard work. They had a lot of great teams, a lot of great players in the past, but we’re working really hard just to get back and achieve even more than that.”

Rationality vs. Hope

Last season, I wrote a post called, ‘Don’t ruin Brandon Knight by looking too closely at his stats right now.’ I’m doubling down on that. I’m not going to predict that Knight is destined for stardom. In fact, if he doesn’t become anything more than a reliable rotation player in his career, he’s still worth having around. It’s good to have guys on your roster who push themselves. It’s good to have guys who are mature. It’s good to have guys who desperately want to win. It’s good to have guys who want to be in Detroit, who want to be involved in the community. It’s good to have guys who can make 3-pointers. Knight has talent and upside, and his work ethic, if he’s persistent with it, makes it a safe bet that he’ll overcome some of the mistakes he makes on the court as a young player. Knight’s qualities make him easy to root for. I’m not particularly worried about trying to predict how good he’ll be in the future. I like him and like that he’s on the team that I follow, and that’s sufficient for me at this stage in his development. There have been a handful of guys on the Pistons in the last few seasons who haven’t been particularly fun to follow or root for, so don’t discount how nice it is having a guy like Knight around, working as hard as he possibly can to get better.

Oh, and just to drive home the point that the guy knows how to give a quote that will endear him to fans, coaches and team officials alike, with the Olympics going, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press asked Knight if he ever dreamed of getting to that level someday where he’d be considered for inclusion on the U.S. team. Knight’s response:

“I’m focused on the Pistons being an elite team. That’s my goal as an individual player and one of the leaders of this team.”

62 Comments

  • Jul 30, 20121:01 pm
    by vic

    Reply

    I love Knight. He’s at worst Vinnie Johnson, at best Isaiah Thomas. (Sorry Czar of Comparisons).

    But the point is both were needed for a championship team. You need a strong lead pg, and you need a microwave scoring guard. With Larry Brown coaching him, Chauncey Billups was both.

    But I think in 3 years the Pistons have a big 3 (all top 10 in their position) in Stuckey, Monroe, and Drummond. And if Knight improves like he should, a big 4. With stable ownership, we’ll be an elite team very soon.

  • Jul 30, 20121:33 pm
    by Scott Free

    Reply

    Thats my biggest complaint about DBBs, I think they’re statistics obsessed, and of course that leads them to a sour opinion of Knight (even this early on).  Regardless of what people say, each player is unique, and I think Knight can help a team even if he isn’t the most reliable ‘traditional’ pass-first point guard.

    • Jul 30, 20121:58 pm
      by 1298ty

      Reply

      Per 36 that’s 12 complaints about DBBs

    • Jul 30, 20122:06 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I don’t know that it’s fair to say that it’s a DBB thing. It’s an advanced stats thing. Hollinger is lukewarm on Knight, Dave Berri is, hell, even Feldman, who likes Knight, has written some things that are skeptical of what exactly his ceiling is.

      And, FWIW, DBB has many varying opinions on him. Packey, for example, is a pretty big Knight fan and has written as much. I believe Sean Corp has written similar things. Like I said, it’s an advanced stats thing, so writers who are more into advanced stats tend to have less favorable evaluations on Knight. I think it’s relevant to talk about the statistics, in this case I just happen to not care as much because I think there’s value in Knight’s character and youth, even if he doesn’t blossom into a star.

      • Jul 30, 20125:13 pm
        by Scott Free

        Reply

        I think this argument translates well into the KJ vs Isiah debate.  The same people piling on Brandon Knight (after 1 lockout season) would be firmly in KJ’s camp.

        • Jul 30, 20125:23 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          I don’t understand what you are saying there. Not really the same thing.

          I wish we could get away from the ‘piling on’ type of statements in statistical debates. No one is ‘piling on’ Brandon Knight. I think if you ask any Pistons writer who has been critical of Knight statistically, you would unequivocally find people who hope they are wrong, who are rooting for him despite what the numbers say. But the statistics are what they  are with him. Personally, I’m a Knight fan, think he can exceed projections, etc. But I can also recognize that it’s fair game and not picking on him or ‘piling on’ to point out that the available advanced statistical evidence isn’t great.

          • Aug 1, 201210:55 am
            by Scott Free

            My mistake for not clarifying, I’m not saying the writers of DBB are ‘piling on’ Knight, I meant the commenting community.  And they HAVE been pretty harsh on him.

  • Jul 30, 20121:58 pm
    by Todd

    Reply

    Good article, Patrick.  I share your enthusiasm for BK’s many fine qualities, and agree that trying to predict how good a player he will be in the future is mostly a waste of time.  Better to just wait and see.  But, I do have to challenge your statement that Knight is “bigger” than Ben Gordon.  Based upon measurements posted on DraftExpress.com, from the NBA pre-draft combine, it appears that Knight is one-half inch taller than Gordon (without shoes), but that Gordon has a bigger wingspan and a higher standing reach (i.e., he Gordon is “longer”). and that Gordon weighed 15 lbs more than Knight at the time of their respective combines.  Overall, I would say the two are remarkably similar in size, although Knight apparently owns a distinctly taller pair of shoes.

    • Jul 30, 20122:13 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I should’ve qualified that better — Knight is a better fit defensively because he can defend point guards, i.e. he’s big for his defensive position whereas Gordon is small for his defensive position. Gordon couldn’t defend point guards or shooting guards, whereas Knight should at the very least develop into a solid defensive player against opposing PGs.

  • Jul 30, 20122:08 pm
    by 1298ty

    Reply

    Perfect Article, PH. Expresses optimism without sucking up to the fanbase. Really well done.

    • Jul 30, 20125:14 pm
      by Scott Free

      Reply

      ^ ditto

    • Jul 30, 20125:52 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Thanks. Knight is rightfully a fan favorite. Any player who works like he does, plays hard, has a good attitude, etc. inevitably becomes one. He’s also a player who is flawed statistically right now.

      I don’t put too much stock in the stats because it’s a small sample size right now, but at the same time, it’s all the evidence there is, so I don’t just discount it and assume he’s going to far out-pace what he produced in college and as a rookie. It’s just a crazy debate — he’s either a bust already in the eyes of some people or he’s a hybrid version of Isiah Thomas and Chauncey Billups. I just wish there was more middle ground in evaluations of him at this point. He’s a work in progress. Right now, if pressed, I’d bet he’ll probably become a reliable starter but never a star in the league. And that’s still pretty good. I fear that if that is indeed his ceiling, though, these wild expectations are going to cause him to be unfairly labeled a bust down the road if he’s not starting in all-star games or something.

  • Jul 30, 20123:33 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    Great post. I particularly agree with the point on how Stuckey and Knight compliment each other so well. It doesn’t matter that neither really fits the mold of a “pure point guard” because they are both combo guards and have fairly different skill sets such that with both on the court, there is someone to do everything you need any backcourt player on your team to do.

    • Jul 30, 20123:37 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Yep. In fact, I think Stuckey will always be more of the point guard between the two. He’s a better ball-handler, turns it over less and has more drive and kick abilities than Knight. I think Knight will eventually be the better up-tempo/open court PG of the two, and because of his shooting ability, a better option when they are running the offense through Monroe since he can feed the post and make his defender pay for cheating inside with his shooting.

  • Jul 30, 20124:18 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    With time Bk will develop at the same pace or even quicker into that point guard/combo guard player Stuck and Chauncey became. It just takes time. Bk has a great work ethic and is a student of the game which is why I think it will come faster for him. Plus he has a good coach to start out with where Chauncey and Stuckey had to go through several coach’s before having that coach that could steer them in  the right direction. With Bk, Moose, and Kim English hunger to be the best , we’re in good hands. ( Not saying others on the team aren’t that way , but English is known as a hard worker also.) Looking forward to preseason.

  • Jul 30, 20124:30 pm
    by apa8ren9

    Reply

    “I’m focused on the Pistons being an elite team. That’s my goal as an individual player and one of the leaders of this team.”  That makes me all giddy as a fan.   I excited to see his development and how he gets better.  Ive said before I liken his game to Doc Rivers at this point (Czar of Comparisons) but its going to be interesting to see it evolve over the years.  I really believe he loves the Pistons as much as I do.   Ill go with it until the illusion is shattered.  I need some more Pistons Kool-Aid!

  • Jul 30, 20124:54 pm
    by gordbrown

    Reply

    I get so frustrated with the conversation around Knight. Yes his stats were poor. Yes his stats in his first post-season were eerily similar to his stats as a collegian. But the bottom line is he is a very young player. You can compare him to the performance of similar players at the same point in their careers, but these comparisons don’t work because he has only one year of college and was thrown into the pros very young and under very unusual circumstances. It takes three years to build a point guard or a centre. But for players directly out of high school it takes more (doubly so for point guards). The idea of playing Knight last year was both to (hopefully) speed his development through consistent and high burn but also TO LOSE GAMES to get a higher draft pick. The key to Knight is whether he develops this year (i.e. how much he improves from the beginning of this season to the end). That’s the only statistics I care about. Also I am in complete agreement that character and work ethic (and GPA) are over-rated, it’s performance that counts. But in terms of performance I will argue and continue to argue until I’m blue in the face that the most important stats aren’t in yet.

    • Jul 30, 20127:55 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      “doubly so for point guards”

      People sometimes like to say this (also not infrequently about Cs). My question is, is it based on anything? Do PGs (or Cs) really seem to develop any slower than players at any other position? Because I haven’t noticed it. It seems no matter the position, rate of development is a really mixed bag. You have players who start strong and fade off (Reke), players who start strong and just keep growing (Durant), players who start slow but really go off later (Howard), and players who start slow and never really get it (Milicic). But there doesn’t seem to be any trend of certain positions toward certain categories.

      So what causes you to think there is? Is it a general sense you’ve gotten from watching a lot of players but not really keeping anything more than a vague subconcious tally? Is it just a sensible sounding narrative that you’ve probably heard others say and made you go “yeah, that really sounds right”? Or have you ever actually compiled stats/read someone who did that showed your positional development hypothesis to have any merit?

      • Jul 30, 201210:00 pm
        by gordbrown

        Reply

        Coaches tend to say this stuff a lot (or at least they used to), so there’s that. But mostly it’s watching 40 years worth of basketball and tracking generation after generation of players and their development. I probably could have made a statistical case for this, and still could if I had the time or energy. I suppose there are freaks of nature (Bill Walton, Kareem and Magic come to mind) but I do think most players require some development and the two positions that require the most are definitely center and point guard.

  • Jul 30, 20125:23 pm
    by bugsygod

    Reply

    When he was coming out of college in the draft, there was alot of talk comparing him to Chauncey, i just didnt see it.  Now i look at knight as a billups type point guard, super smart, makes the right play and trys to lead the team.  Knight seems like a player almost “too smart” to fail.  I believe he has good athletic ability, but its his smarts that will separate him from other pg’s.  Compare him to john wall, wall has super athletic ability, but doesnt seem to have the best grasp of how to “Play” basketball.  Make the smart/right play.  Knight seems like he understands whats needed, ACCEPTS it and tries to make it happen.  He seems to be clearly a guy that wants to be a coach on the court.  Like mr. big shot, knight does not seem afraid of the big shot as well, from college to the nba.  The pistons really have some good talented players, with great character!

    • Jul 30, 20125:34 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Knight and Billups are not remotely similar as players at this point, other than the 3-point shooting. Knight wasn’t even the primary point guard last year. Stuckey still ran the offense more than Knight despite technically being the shooting guard.

      Like I wrote in the post, I hope and think Knight can be a decent player. But any suggestion that he’s shown anything on the court comparable to Billups yet is crazy.

      • Jul 30, 20128:48 pm
        by bugsygod

        Reply

        As i mentioned in my comment, this is what draft gurus were saying before the draft last year.  As a projection, a 6’3″ pg, with good 3pt shot and very smart.  Neither are overly athletic, even in chaunceys younger days.  I did not see the comparison at first, but after watching knight for the past year i see those similarities.  Now is knight going to be a superstar pg like billups?? With his work ethic possible, will it happen doubtful.  But i do see him as a close to all star level pg at his peak, able to start for a championship team.

      • Jul 30, 20129:24 pm
        by ray

        Reply

        I suggest Knight can be better or as Good as Billups in time…It took Billups 5 years to find his game in the NBA ….

        I dont believe it will take Knight 4-5 years….. Knight will make huge strides during this upcoming season….because he competes …. he is a smart….. he puts in work ….. and he is skilled…. Knight needs to be the allowed to be the man….

        • Jul 30, 20129:37 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          But see, Billups was a better college player than Knight. His first couple seasons in the league, he bounced around, but he still had better assist and turnover percentages.

          I agree that Knight should get better with experience, but I still wouldn’t compare him to Billups’ situation. Billups was a better player and prospect to start with, so his ceiling was higher coming into the league than Knight’s. Remember, Knight wasn’t a lock to be picked in the lottery until Barnes, Sullinger, Henson, Jones and Zeller, who all would’ve been lottery picks in 2011, decided to stay in school. Knight is talented and has potential, but there is still no evidence from anything he’s done in college or as a rookie NBA player to show he has a comparable ceiling to Billups. That’s not a criticism either. He could fall well short of how good Billups was in his prime and still be a very good player in the league.

      • Jul 30, 20129:43 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        I think you really underestimate the potential for stylistic comparisons between Billups and Knight. There is a lot more than 3-point shooting. Of course, most of this was just covered by bugsygod. Of course, sane people realize that Knight being the second coming of Billups is not merely less than inevitable, but is actually quite unlikely. But their games are fairly similar. In fact,t he only huge difference I see is how much better Chauncey was at hanging on to the rock.

        • Jul 30, 20129:55 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          They’re both big for their position and both are decent 3-point shooters. That’s where the comparisons begin and end for me. To me, that’s not a great comparison.

          “In fact,t he only huge difference I see is how much better Chauncey was at hanging on to the rock.”

          But that’s a hugely significant factor. If you were naming the top two things Billups does on the court, taking care of the ball has always been in that top two. Taking care of the ball wouldn’t make the top 10 things Knight does well.

          Also, yes, both are big, but Billups was strong coming into the league. He got better at using his body to his advantage as he went along, but still, he came into the league with an ability to bully and use his strength to create space.

          I just honestly don’t see much in common between the two other than shooting, size and playing the same position for the Pistons.

          I liken it to the silly Stuckey-Westbrook comparisons that used to pop up. Yes, in theory, stylistically, those two were kind of similar. But Westbrook is so much better than Stuckey at most things, that it’s not all that worthwhile a comparison.

          • Jul 30, 201210:08 pm
            by bugsygod

            You keep looking at in one point of view “who is better”.   Thats not what we are comparing, we are comparing there style of play, not who is better.  the stuck westbrook rose comparison was because there games were similar, big penentrating pgs who are not traditional pgs.  not if they are all on the same level.  my 13yr old son plays ball now, i comapre his game to matt barnes.  plays hard gets in other teams face hits the open shot and plays good d.  that doesnt mean he is as good or will ever be as good as matt barnes.  its a comparison of styles, not now but what Knight can/will grow into.

          • Jul 30, 201210:15 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            But I don’t think it’s a great comparison. They are big and they can shoot the three. That’s all I see.

            Billups came into the league being pretty good at getting to the line. He came into the league being pretty good at taking care of the ball. Those two things are huge, huge parts of Billups game. Getting to the line and taking care of the ball were pretty much his staples, and he did those things in college and he did them early in his career in the few opportunities he got as he bounced around the league.

            Knight didn’t get to the line much in college. He didn’t take good care of the ball in college. He didn’t do either thing well as a rookie, either.

            I’m not saying that Knight won’t get better. But I’m just not seeing how he’s similar to Billups stylistically when he’s never done the two best things Billups did — take care of the ball and draw contact — throughout his college and pro career.

          • Jul 30, 201210:33 pm
            by bugsygod

            Stylstics has nothing to do with statistics, style is the way they play the game.  They have similiar games, that doesnt always translate to the same stats.  big 3pt shooting pg, that is the first thing you think of when you think of chauncey.  smart, leader runs the team.  those are same things when you look at knight.  i believe knight will improve his to’s to the point that is considered an asset of his as he gains more experience.  i do not think he will always be a high TO guy.  Thats my projection.  Where i think he will be at the peak of his career.

          • Jul 30, 201210:43 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            “Stylstics has nothing to do with statistics, style is the way they play the game.”

            Right. I don’t think they play the game the same way.

            “big 3pt shooting pg, that is the first thing you think of when you think of chauncey.”

            No. I think 1A. Great at getting to the line/drawing fouls; 1B. Great halfcourt point guard.

            “smart, leader runs the team.  those are same things when you look at knight.”

            I think Knight is smart off the court. I don’t think he’s a leader yet and it’s a fact he doesn’t run the team yet. Stuckey is still more of the team’s point guard than Knight. He ran the offense more than Knight in the halfcourt last year. I’m serious. Knight operated like a shooting guard in the halfcourt much of last season.

            “i believe knight will improve his to’s to the point that is considered an asset of his as he gains more experience.  i do not think he will always be a high TO guy.”

            I don’t either. The difference is Billups was never really a high TO guy. He didn’t really have to learn it that much. Taking care of the ball has always been an instinctive part of his game than. Knight has yet to prove he can take care of the ball or run an offense. I just don’t see how their games are that similar. Size and outside shooting. That’s it. To me, that’s not much of a comparison.

          • Jul 30, 201210:55 pm
            by bugsygod

            Where not talking what they are today!!!  Its a projection of where knights game will be at its peak!  A low TO, 3pt shooting, team leading, coach on the floor pg.  That is his projection, that is billups  TO ME!  An you just stated you dont think knight will always be a high TO guy!  Its the same projection you just gave in this article!??

          • Jul 30, 201211:16 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            “Its a projection of where knights game will be at its peak!  A low TO, 3pt shooting, team leading, coach on the floor pg.”

            Fine. I just don’t agree with that projection. So far, the only thing in that group of traits you mention that Knight has shown an ability to do is shoot the three. He’s not a low TO player, he’s not a leader yet, he’s not a coach on the floor, he doesn’t excel in a halfcourt offense. Yes, I certainly think he can get better in some of those areas, but I just don’t ever see him as being a classical halfcourt point guard who stylistically will look anything like Billups. I just don’t think they have similar styles.

        • Jul 31, 20129:32 am
          by tarsier

          Reply

          That’s fair. I guess different people see different things when looking at a player. Knight does kinda remind me of Billups just because besides being big and shooting threes, he tends to slow the game down, he seems be thinking and reading the situation a lot out there, he doesn’t rely on incredible athleticism, he shoots free throws well, and he is surprisingly bad at putting in two-pointers in spite of usually getting pretty good looks. Those all remind me of Chauncey. But I can see your point that the biggest things Billups brought to the table, Knight is lacking, at least so far.

    • Jul 30, 20125:42 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Also, I feel the need to defend Wall a little bit here too. Wall turns the ball over slightly more than Knight and he doesn’t have a 3-point shot. He’s better than Knight in virtually every other way, though, and was as a rookie too. He gets significantly more assists, he has a better shooting percentage (though neither guy shoots the ball all that well overall) and he gets twice as many steals per 36 minutes as Knight. Also, Wall’s main weakness is 3-point shooting. He shot terribly from three as a rookie. So as a second year player, he hardly shot threes at all. To me, that shows he’s an intelligent player as well, learning that something wasn’t his strength, so he chose to attack in other ways.

      I rail against making comparisons between players all the time here, and these are perfect examples. Your comment suggests that you think Knight is on a track to become a Billups-like player and that he’s already a smarter player than Wall. Neither of those statements has any evidence to support it.

      • Jul 30, 20128:57 pm
        by bugsygod

        Reply

        Everyone, Everyones critisim of Wall is his basketball iQ and maturity.  Who would i rather have making the decisions on my team, i would take knight now and going forward.  Wall has Tremendous athletic ability, he gets to the rim with ease, so to say his fg% compares to knight is a lil incorrect as knight shoots alot more threes than wall and wall shoots more layups then knight.  So wall should have a much higher % but does not.  I believe maturity, motor, character are all talents.  Some ppl have them and some never do.  I KNOW knight has those abilities everyone hopes Wall can get them.

        • Jul 30, 20129:23 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          I haven’t really heard criticisms of Wall’s maturity as a pro. I’ve certainly heard criticisms of the some of the other knuckleheads on that team, which is why Washington got rid of most of those guys, but not Wall.

          The fact is, Wall has more upside than Knight because of the athletic ability you mention. But he’s also a better player than Knight is at this moment, and he has been since he entered the league. Yes, Knight is a better shooter from the perimeter, but Wall’s aggressiveness attacking the basket results in about three times as many free throw attempts per game, which gets opposing players in foul trouble, etc.

          I like Knight. But right now, the only above average NBA skill he’s shown has been his 3-point shooting. Wall gets to the line, finishes, gets more assists and gets more steals than Knight at this point. Knight will never be similar to Wall in style of play, but he also has a ways to go before he’s close to as productive as him.

          • Jul 30, 20129:44 pm
            by bugsygod

            My point is not who is the better talent.  That is Wall hands down.  BUT if you had to choose one to make the DECISIONS for your team would that be wall or knight?  Not who is the better player as far as what his athletic abilities, im talking bball iq, leadership, maturity, work ethic, character, etc..  those are Knights strong points as counter to Walls athletic abilities.  Which was my point in the original comment.  Again you “hope” wall gets those qualties, because he has not displayed them at all.
             
             

          • Jul 30, 20129:50 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            “Again you “hope” wall gets those qualties, because he has not displayed them at all.”

            You have not proven this at all. I have not one read article on Wall being immature or a bad teammate or not working hard since he was drafted. If you can provide a link, I’d gladly change my mind with evidence. But by all accounts I’ve seen, he’s well-liked and well-thought-of in Washington.

            Honestly, Knight is a very mistake-prone guard right now. Yes, he was smart academically, but he’s not a player who has displayed a game with a high basketball IQ in college or the pros. He forces his offense at times and he’s turnover prone. Those things can be said about a lot of young guards, Wall included, but the difference is Wall sets up shots for teammates far, far more often than Knight does. I just don’t agree that he’s a worse decision maker on the court than Knight.

          • Jul 30, 20129:57 pm
            by bugsygod

            John Walls Hollinger Analysis espn.  highlted some points, even showing promise for knights TO problems
             
            + Big point guard with blinding open-court speed. A terror in transition.

            + Size, athleticism offer great defensive potential. Gets caught ball-watching.

            + Good finisher but in-between game, jump shot and decision-making need work.

            Considering he was plagued by knee tendinitis for much of the season, Wall’s rookie campaign was quite encouraging. He still finished with a PER above the league average and fared better than expected running the offense. He was 23rd in pure point rating and had a solid assist rate; his biggest problem, turnovers, is one that always plagues rookie point guards and normally stands as a good omen for future growth.

            Otherwise, Wall’s athleticism was impossible to miss even with the knee trouble. He was 10th among point guards in free throw rate, ninth in blocks per minute, and third in defensive rebound rate. He was exhilarating to watch in transition due to his speed and could reliably beat defenders off the dribble without needing a screen in the half court.

            Now he just needs to make some shots. Wall shot 59.9 percent in the basket area, which is really good, but given his athleticism we expect more. Everywhere else he was awful. Wall shot only 29.7 percent on 2s outside the basket area (yuck) and matched that effort almost exactly by hitting 29.6 percent of his 3s. Even Wall isn’t athletic enough to subsist on layups alone; he has to make some shots and stop opponents from going under every screen and walling off the paint.

          • Jul 30, 201210:11 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            LOL … so what are you doing here? Presenting one side of an argument? A couple of points here:

            - First, I didn’t say that Wall wasn’t turnover prone. I just said that right now, he’s better than Knight. There’s not a significant difference in their basketball IQ. Both are turnover prone. The difference, though, is that Wall is just overall a much better player right now. All the stats except 3-point shooting back that up.

            - Second, why don’t you post Hollinger’s evaluation of Knight? I’ll help with that:

            “The big questions about Knight are whether he distributes well enough to play point guard full-time, and whether his outside shot is consistent enough to make defenses honor his stroke. He’ll be able to defend most 1s without a problem because he’s quick and long-armed, but at the 2 it’s a much iffier proposition; that’s why it’s so important that he succeed at the point. Also, Knight had a low free throw rate in college for a star player who drives a lot. He’ll have to learn to get himself to the stripe more often as a pro.”

          • Jul 30, 201210:16 pm
            by bugsygod

            Hoopshype analysis of Wall:
            Explosive and talented point guard… Finds the way to the rim… Good court vision and playmaking skills… Very good size for his position… Quick hands… Jump shot still not consistent enough… Can’t hit the three… Star potential… Focused enough?

          • Jul 30, 201210:19 pm
            by bugsygod

            you asked me to find one repuatable site questioning walls focus(maturity) and his decision making i just did that.

          • Jul 30, 201210:22 pm
            by bugsygod

            and you skipped over the part about TO’s being a good omen for rookie pg’s.

          • Jul 30, 201210:24 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            Focus and maturity are the same thing? Many, many young players are not properly focused entering the league. Questioning maturity is far different to me than questioning focus. Your comments above made it seem as if Wall was some knucklehead when in fact, despite being really young, he was one of the more mature players in that Wizards locker room. Since he’s entered the league, there have been no questions about his work ethic, his commitment to winning or whether he’s a good teammate.

            Yes, he has some major flaws as a player that need to be fixed for him to maximize his potential. But those questions are no different than the ones about Knight — on-court focus, decision-making and turnovers could easily be criticisms of Knight just as much as they could be of Wall.

          • Jul 30, 201210:30 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            I linked to that turnover excerpt during the season, actually. I buy it partially. But generally, young PGs with high turnover rates like Knight had also have higher assist rates than Knight had.

          • Jul 30, 201210:40 pm
            by bugsygod

            its the same thing focus/maturity that they said about drummond, during the entire draft process.  Its why he dropped to us.  No one said drummond was a knucklehead they question his maturity and focus.  I call that the same thing, because you would never question knights maturity and focus.  So if in walls 2nd year ppl are questioning his focus still, which no one questions knights as you wrote throughout this article, that is a difference of players.  AGAIN making my point that knight has those things and ppl HOPE wall gets those!

          • Jul 30, 201210:45 pm
            by bugsygod

            AND AGAIN IM NOT SAYING KNIGHT IS A BETTER PLAYER THAN WALL…. im saying his qualites of maturity, leadership, charachter, work ethic are all better than walls.  As calipari said that he never had anyone work as hard as knight.  The same guy that coached both.  As stated in your article here, these are all of knights strongest traits.

          • Jul 30, 201210:46 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            I’ll just agree to disagree with you on Wall. The fact is, as you said too, Wall is a better prospect. It’s also a fact that right now, Wall is a better player.

            I don’t think intangible things like focus and IQ and work ethic are insignificant. But talent is still far more important. Wall is more talented. I think you might be over-valuing the intangibles a little too much in this case. Knight doesn’t have any intangible quality great enough to make me think he’ll ever be better than Wall.

          • Jul 30, 201211:02 pm
            by bugsygod

            I dont understand why you keep comparing who is the better player today or tomorrow???  There are qualities that Wall has that are better than knight, there are qualites that knight have that are better than Wall!  Walls talents/qualities far outweigh knights!  But from your article above knights best qualites are his intagibles!  That is my only point, knights intangibles are better than walls.  Wall is obviouly the better player now and better long term prospect.  However i would rather have knights intangibles.

          • Jul 30, 201211:14 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            “Wall is obviouly the better player now and better long term prospect.  However i would rather have knights intangibles.”

            Sorry, I was reading that original point as you saying you would rather have Knight over Wall just because of Knight’s intangibles. My fault for misinterpreting if that’s not what you were saying.

          • Jul 30, 201211:23 pm
            by bugsygod

            If you go to the orginal comment i compare the two as knight being too smart to fail, with his intangibles.  which i said wall does not have.  If wall reaches his full maturity i think he will be better than wall even if Knight maximizes his full potential.  But because of knights intangibles, work ethic, maturity, etc.  He has a higher success rate than someone like wall who we HOPE gains those intangibles!  Again the intangibles you state in your article…BOOM!

    • Jul 30, 20125:48 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I’m not picking on your comment, either. It just is a serious problem in the Knight discussions.

      Yes, I get that people who constantly harp on the statistical side of things might be overlooking the fact that he has some intangible qualities (intelligence, work ethic) that players who exceed their expectations tend to possess. But your comment is too far weighted in the other direction — suggesting that Knight is basically a can’t miss star. I know you didn’t say ‘star,’ but your comparison to Billups insinuates as much. Billups was a multi-time All-Star, a MVP candidate a couple of seasons and, for a brief period of time was a top threeish point guard in the league.

      Knight could have a very good career and still never achieve close to those things. But setting the bar that high for him when he’s a raw 20-year-old still learning to play a position is doing him no favors.

      • Jul 30, 20129:06 pm
        by bugsygod

        Reply

        Everyone makes comparisons of players, when you project someone or who that player is going to become you look for examples already playing in the league.  These are discussions every gm, coach, owner, front office person has.  Look at any nba draft site and they always have comparisons for players.  Anthony Davis this year was either tim duncan or kevin garnett, now davis has everything going for him, but WOW those are 2 hall of fame greastest of all time at their position players!  So i understand your concern that comparisons are made, but it is the nature of the beast you cover…Professional sports!  Hell, when you date a girl and the guys wanna know who or what she looks like, you will probably mention a girl they all know! What player do you compare knight too?  bj armstong? john paxson? darren collison? mo williams? jameer nelson? rod strickland? gilbert arenas? stephen curry? devin harris?

        • Jul 30, 20129:31 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          To be honest, there isn’t a point guard I really compare him to yet, and certainly not Billups. He’s not athletic enough to be in the category of the super athletic new breed point guards and he doesn’t run an offense, pass well enough or take care of the ball well enough to be considered a more classical PG like Billups or even Andre Miller/Jose Calderon.

          He’s a combo guard with upside and a good 3-point shooter right now, clearly a rotation player on most rosters. I don’t have any idea where he’ll go from there.

          • Jul 30, 20129:53 pm
            by bugsygod

            Ok, but 90% of ppl make comparisons so that is what i was doing, in my opinion he has a CB type game when he reaches his peak.  Leader, 3 pt shooter, run the team/coach on the floor, get 7-8 assists a game, well respected, clutch, hit big shots, etc.  All things i think chauncey was. And as you know many teams called billups a combo guard early in his career, that is why pitino got rid of him so quick in boston.

          • Jul 30, 201210:00 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            I have no problem with comparisons. I just don’t like lopsided ones. Pistons broadcasters were comparing Knight to Isiah during the season. And you’re not the only one who has made the Billups comparison. I just don’t think it does Knight any favors. Chances are, he’s not going to be near as good as Billups. He could still have a very good career and never approach what Billups did. To me, the only comparisons between the two are size for the position and shooting. Billups was a score-first PG early on, but unlike Knight, he also came into the league taking pretty good care of the basketball. That’s what I’m most skeptical of with Knight. Stuckey and Prince still ran the Pistons offense a significant amount of time last season. Knight still has to prove that he can be a full-time PG, and guys don’t just automatically get less turnover prone overnight. Billups could play PG because, even if he looked for his own shot a lot, he didn’t usually make bad decisions with the ball. Knight is a shoot-first player and he still makes bad decisions with the ball too often.

          • Jul 31, 20128:40 am
            by Rodman4Life

            Love that last paragraph, Patrick.  Sometimes we get so much more appreciation for a player if we just enjoy them for what they are and not what they aren’t.  However, I think advanced statistics can support Knight, but we may have to break it down even further.  I don’t know if I’m just overly optimistic, but it is my perception that Knight’s performance takes a sharp uptick later in games that the Pistons are close in.  I may be wrong, but I feel his “killer instinct” is something we should measure if available. (and if true, it’s a good indicator of what one of his strengths really is) 
            Also, like Billups, Knight and his impact may be far more important to the team in the way he makes other teammates better.  Billups was so impressive in the way he knew his teammates, what they needed, and how to make them better.  I think Knight has the acumen and smarts to figure that out about his teammates, and it won’t always show up in a measure-able statistic like assists.  There’s another Billups comparison for you Patrick! :-)

  • Jul 30, 20125:59 pm
    by RyanK

    Reply

    It’s hard to say what kind of player Knight will develop into.  He’s going to get better, that’s for sure.  He has good size for his position, good speed, and a good jumpshot.  I don’t know how the added body weight is going to affect his speed.
     
     
     

  • Jul 31, 20126:23 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    You guys really can’t get a good look at Bk’s game until this season. Knight last year was thrown into a blazing fire and did very well considering. Chauncey is my man ( met him once “Great Guy) but he had chances in boston and denver before landing in Minnesota before Flip gave him the chance to play his game. Then it wasn’t til Brown got a hold to him that he became the Pg that he is now. BK will have less time to be a better PG because he has a better group of coaches to mentor him along the way. Plus Stuck will give him pointers too. Knight has the chance to be better than Billups. IMHO
    Plus he was the youngest on the team, coming into this season look for a more vocal and  steady leader on the court.
    Give him till next year to be an all star.

  • I rarely comment, however i did a few searching and wound up here Brandon Knight?s trademark maturity on display during interview at basketball camp ? PistonPowered.
    And I do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind.
    Is it simply me or does it seem like some of
    the responses appear like left by brain dead people?
    :-P And, if you are posting at additional places, I would like to follow
    anything fresh you have to post. Could you list of all of all your shared
    sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook
    page or twitter feed?

  • First off I would like to say great blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.

    I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear
    your mind prior to writing. I have had a tough time clearing my mind in
    getting my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing but it just seems
    like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?

    Appreciate it!

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