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Internal Improvement: Brandon Knight

Tom Gores said it better happenJonas Jerebko guaranteed itRodney Stuckey agreed.

The Detroit Pistons can certainly make the playoffs this season, but given how similar the team is to last year’s, it won’t be easy. It appears the Pistons are mostly relying on internal improvement in order to exceed expectations and reach the postseason.

For our 2012 preview series, Patrick and I will each examine one area where we see realistic room for improvement from each Piston. Today, we look at Brandon Knight.


Brandon Knight must improve as a distributor in the Pistons’ half-court offense, but he can help himself by gambling a bit more on defense. Steals, as I’ve said many times, are a very underrated stat, because not only do they mean the opposing offense doesn’t score, they often lead to easy opportunities on the other end.

Knight didn’t steal many balls at Kentucky two years ago or with Detroit last year, but he has the length to go for more steals without getting out of position often. With a year in the league, his anticipation skills should be improved, too.

Hopefully, Knight’s passing will improve, but in the meantime, he can create better looks for himself and for his teammates by going for more steals. — D.F.

Work on the floater

Knight showed an ability last season to get off a decent looking floater when he got inside, it just didn’t go in consistently for him.

It’s an important shot for him to develop because he’s never going to morph into the super athletic point guards in the league right now who explode up and over bigger players to finish. Knight has plenty of areas where minimal improvements this season would make him a much better player. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s fair to say he’s making those strides and will be better this season. But one area where he’s been really aggressive in Summer League and the first preseason game is looking to drive inside more. If he can combine that with an accurate floater that he gets off over anyone, he’ll be a much more dangerous player when he’s on the move.



  • Oct 12, 20129:24 am
    by Keith


    I know it’s the obvious one that everyone can see, but it still seems odd not to put a huge star next to Knight’s passing/game management. In many ways, steals and a floater are going to be inconsequential if Knight doesn’t improve as a passer. Stuckey is not a PG, and our offense has been hurt for years now running high usage scorers in the back-court. We had concurrently one of the lowest assist rates and efficiencies in the league. Those don’t always go hand in hand (OKC Thunder were last in assist rate, second in efficiency), but our best player would arguably be the third best in OKC. We NEED to move the ball to create better shots, and we NEED to get better passing out of our primary ballhandlers (Knight-Stuckey).
    Also, he is a super athletic PG. All athletic testing throughout his life has said as much. He doesn’t play that way, but it would be false to say he can’t. If anything, this should speak to his overall lack of aggression and physicality, which goes against his talents. Early last year he was downright afraid of contact and would do everything to avoid it. He got better by the end of the year, but still would take bad shots over getting fouled. That’s all mental. If he can get into the paint to pass or get fouled, suddenly his efficiency and assist rate would skyrocket.

    • Oct 12, 201210:52 am
      by revken


      I agree that improved passing is the key thing we need to see from him, though better D and steals and a consistent floater are fine.  Knight is very fast, but he’s not a huge leaper (though he did convert on some lobs last year).  He’s young, so this stuff will take time.  He’s probably a long way from reaching his ceiling.

      I’m going to quiblle with the intro comment:  “The Detroit Pistons can certainly make the playoffs this season.”  I think “certainly” is much too strong a word, even if Tom Gores understandably says that’s what he wants.  Assuming we’re better than Washington, Milwaukee and Cleveland, we’d still have to beat out 7 teams that made the playoffs last year plus Brooklyn.  There’s nothing certain about us doing that.  I’d suggest “possibly” as a much better word to use.  Given our competition and our own uncertainties, I’d say “possibly” is pretty optimistic.

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