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Brandon Knight ranked ninth-best sophomore in NBA

David Thorpe of ESPN ranked second-year players based only on this season, and Brandon Knight placed ninth:

Like Thompson, Knight has proven that he has one very special skill: He can really shoot the deep shot. He’s up to 41 percent this season after a strong 38 percent from 3 last season, which is impressive. But he has not yet learned how to manage the game and to make easy passes/assists without being somewhat turnover-prone. Knight recently turned 21 and is known for his special work ethic and intelligence, so there is plenty of reason to believe he’ll improve a good deal. One side note: I’ve always thought he was going to be like Chauncey Billups, whose PER at age 21 happens to be the same as Knight’s now (12.7).

The Pistons drafted Knight with the No. 8 pick, so a No. 9 ranking is slightly underwhelming – but really, it means Knight was picked about where he should have been.

Also, I’m still not sold on the Knight-Billups comparison that continues to be forced. Leandro Barbosa also had a PER of 12.7 at age 21. What makes Knight more likely to follow Billups’ career path than Barbosa’s?

35 Comments

  • Jan 3, 20139:53 am
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    sometimes it comes down to system…

    Kemba Walker is having a good year, as far as his stats…but his team recently lost 18 games in a row…

    The team has given him the green light, and defensively he gets steals but is terrible in man to man defense…

    Put Knight in that same system, Knight would probably put up the same type numbers

    • Jan 3, 20133:46 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      Kemba Walker scores more, assists more, and turns the ball over less frequently than Knight. If Knight’s shot attempts ticked up to where Walker is at he’d probably score about the same as Walker, which is fine if he is a shooting guard. Walker’s 6 assists and 2.3 turnovers is just a lot better than Knight’s 4.6 assists and 3.1 turnovers. I don’t see any reason to assume that the offensive system is why Walker is that much better as a passer. Even if I bought into the idea that his assist numbers catch up to Walkers, which I don’t, I’d also have to assume his turnovers would increase with the added responsibility. It seems far more likely that Walker is just a better point guard right now.

      • Jan 3, 20137:41 pm
        by Chris H

        Reply

        Worth noting Walker is a few years older than Knight, and while that time was spent in college that is a difference in development.  Also I remember watching the Uconn games with Walker.  He always had the ball in his hands, given I didn’t really watch Kentucky at the time, but I can’t imagine there was anyway he had the ball more than Walker. 

  • Jan 3, 201310:21 am
    by Daye and Knight (Team Redemption)

    Reply

    Knight has room to grow. I’m not gonna say he’s the next Billups but I will say that people need to ease up on that 6th man talk or “he’s not our future at PG” crap for at least a few more seasons. There’s still reasons to be optimistic he’s only in his second season so the BK hate needs to be put on hold at least until the 3-4 season.

    • Jan 3, 201310:34 am
      by The Dude

      Reply

      I agree. And the comparison thing is silly, every player we get does not need to be a reincarnation of great players we’ve had.

  • Jan 3, 201310:42 am
    by Revken

    Reply

    “What makes Knight more likely to follow Billups’ career path than Barbosa’s?”

    HOPE!

    • Jan 3, 201311:53 am
      by XstreamINsanity

      Reply

      I was thinking the position they play as I’ve always thought Barbosa was better at SG.  Wait, isn’t that where we’ve been suggesting Knight to play.  Dangit!!!!

      • Jan 3, 20137:48 pm
        by Chris H

        Reply

        I’m sure I’ll find a reason to argue this, but I really can’t.  All I can say is Barbosa’s best years were with a lot of great players next to him.  Still, not bad for someone drafted with the 28th pick. 

  • Jan 3, 201310:46 am
    by Domnick

    Reply

    maybe since Mr. Bigshot can really shoot… Knight is also a clutch player… so its a fair comparison.. but i hope Knight will improve faster…. than what Billups had

  • Jan 3, 201310:54 am
    by Keith

    Reply

    I think the problem people have is the way so many young PGs are able to jump straight into the league and start making an impact. This has a lot to do with the way the game is officiated nowadays, so it becomes even stranger for a highly rated PG to come in an struggle. But it completely overlooks how unfriendly the Detroit system is to PGs. For an example, check out Chauncey Billups’ (widely considered a great true PG in his time here) stats during his first three years in Detroit.
    Year           PPG          APG           FG%         3pt%      FTA        TS% (true efficiency)
    02-03         16.2         3.9            42%         39%       4.9         58%
    03-04         16.9         5.7            39%         39%       5.9         55%
    04-05         16.5         5.8            44%         43%       4.8         60%
     
    Now compare that to Knight’s first two years (keeping in mind Chauncey wasn’t a rookie):
    Year           PPG          APG           FG%         3pt%      FTA        TS% (true efficiency)
    11-12         12.8         3.8            42%         38%       2.1         51%
    12-13         14.1         4.6            41%         41%       3.6         53%
     
    I am not saying Knight is going to be the next Billups, but comparing the two is eerily similar. Chauncey was much better at getting to the line (and converted at a higher rate), but he was also in his 6th year when we first got him. Knight is already a very good shooter and following a similar path with assist totals. The fact is, Detroit has not actively unleashed their PGs since Grant Hill (who was our real PG at the time). They play slow, game-manager-ball, even if that doesn’t get the most out of them. I’m not trying to be an apologist for Knight’s need for improvement, but I also accept that Detroit actively plays a style that dampens offensive production. Sheed never shot better than 44% from the field as a Piston too. Rip is arguably the only Piston to shoot well while here, but even he was pushed to take low percentage mid-range shots instead of more 3s (he was a good shooter) or drawing more fouls. Heck, even Greg Monroe has been getting steadily less efficient the more we use him in our terrible sets.
     
    Maybe Knight is just a spot up shooter at best, a game-managing PG that needs a strong compliment on the wings. Maybe not. We don’t have enough information to say one way or the other, most especially thanks to the way our system is so punishing to our own players.
     
     

    • Jan 3, 201311:14 am
      by I HATE FRANK

      Reply

      Now Go Look at Billups stats… from his Rookie Year to his 5 years in the league…

      Knight is already more advanced than where Billups was

      • Jan 3, 201312:49 pm
        by Keith

        Reply

        Well again, I’m not trying to say Knight will be like Billups, just pointing out that winning has a ton to do with how we evaluate our players. Billups was a more efficient scorer, but not much more of a passer, even when we won the championship. We won because our players fit our system and we played incredible defense. We are trying to win now with the same system despite having completely different players and significantly worse defenders.

      • Jan 3, 201312:51 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Stop already with the Billups comparisons. Billups is the exception, not the rule. Yes, Knight is probably better at this point in his career than Billups was, but so has been just about every PG selected in the lottery since him. Like the majority of those, Knight probably won’t have as good a career as Billups.

        Seriously, comparing every PG who struggles early in his acreer to Billups is like comparing every player who misses his first season because of injury to Blake Griffin. Or comparing every unathletic big to Kevin Love. Or comparing every skinny wing to Durant.

        If that was how most guys turned out, you wouldn’t know their names. 

        • Jan 3, 20133:25 pm
          by I HATE FRANK

          Reply

          My Comparison to Billups is that you can WIN with a combo guard, that doesnt play above the rim…

          I Believe in Knight, I also liked him in college…

          However, players like Knight are not going to just make players around him better, like a Rondo …but if allowed to play his game he will win games 

  • Jan 3, 201311:01 am
    by mixmasta

    Reply

    BK is BK! No comparison needed. If we don’t believe in our rookies then let’s trade them or give them away and then what? Watch them grow somewhere else? Remember Aaron Afflalo and Amir Johnson?

    • Jan 3, 201311:02 am
      by mixmasta

      Reply

      rookies = players/talents

    • Jan 3, 201312:55 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Arron and Amir are nice pieces who were given up for too little. But those are hardly haunting mistakes. Both are limited, highly replacable players. The sad thing about their trades isn’t that they bloomed elsewhere but that the Pistons didn’t get enough back for them. It’s disappointing but not franchise altering, and old news.

      • Jan 3, 20131:32 pm
        by Keith

        Reply

        I would say the sad things wasn’t even our return on those players. It was the fact that we gave up better players to keep worse ones. Afflalo blossoming into an elite shooter and decent defender somewhere else wouldn’t hurt, except we got rid of him to sign an elite shooter/terrible defender (Gordon) for 10 times as much money. Amir turning into a rotation big somewhere else wasn’t so bad except for the fact we gave him up in order to overpay the wildly overrated Charlie Villanueva.
         
        Not getting much in return should never have been a problem, because we never should have been throwing away cheap young talent to overpay bums in free agency.

        • Jan 3, 20134:43 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Well, yeah, the BG and CV signings were huge mistakes. But that’s a separate issue. Also, Arron and Amir weren’t moved to free up enough money to sign those two. Afflalo was traded because, after signing BG, there would otherwise be too many guards on the roster. Johnson was also traded after the fact. They opened up room to fill out the roster with less tragic signings, like Wilcox and Brown.

          In other words, Afflalo was deemed superfluous. Johnson was deemed not good enough. Unfortunate, sure (especially in Arron’s case, I really don’t much care about Amir). But not quite the scenario you described. BG and CV were getting signed regardless of those trades.

  • Jan 3, 201311:01 am
    by Scott Free

    Reply

    I think its a bit premature to evaluate Brandon Knight’s ultimate potential based on his performance to date.

    Of course, Knight has shown little ability to influence the flow of the game OR make his teammates look better than they are.  We can all agree to that.  But consider the situation he’s in:

    Knight found himself thrust into the role of starting point guard on an NBA team out of necessity early in his (lockout shortened) rookie season.  His team was wildly careening to the bottom, due to years of mismanagement and failed head coaches.  Before he could even drink, Brandon Knight was expected to helm (and right) a drowning franchise, and instead of recognizing that reality, the haters insisted on focusing on his assist to t/o ratio.  (While simultaneously ignoring that Detroit focussed on an isolation-based offense last season — John Stockton couldn’t get an assist out of a lineup of Tayshaun, Maxiel, and Rodney Stuckey)

    Now Knights assists are up, his turnovers on the whole are down — but incrementally so on both counts (so as no one notices). The expectations havent changed: be a franchise player, NOW.  Make no mistake, the franchise needs it of him, but I suspect such high expectations on a young man may be counterintuitive.  Knight by all accounts is a hard-worker, perfectionist, and is overly self-critical… putting the blame of yet another losing season with limited attendance on his shoulders is apt to further his inconsistant play.

    We all complain about the kid-gloves the franchise has had with Drummond, I think an ounce of that should have been spared for Knight, (someone not much older than Andre).

     

  • Jan 3, 201311:05 am
    by Fennis

    Reply

    @Dan

    Intelligence, Dedication, Leadership. 

  • Jan 3, 201311:27 am
    by vic

    Reply

    I like Knight and I believe he will be good. 
    He is what he is, WYSIWYG.
    He’s not effective as a pg, he’s better as a scoring guard.
    When he learns to slow down, maybe he’ll be better as a pg too. 

    Here is what I don’t like.
    Greg Monroe, great player – everybody knows his deficiencies. not a great defender, not more athletic than his competition. So with no hesitation they bring in Andre Drummond to complement him perfectly.

    Knight’s a great player – everybody knows his deficiencies, not a great passer, not a great finisher yet, only plays at one speed – fast.

    But instead of getting somebody to complement him, let’s just hope that in 6 years this square peg will fit into that round hole. 

    They had no problem moving Stuckey to SG, then to backup PG. they seem to have no problem with eventually shifting Monroe to PF. 

    I love his character, his faith, intelligence, hard work… great. Why not talk about how to complement Knight with a better ballhandler and passer? Then he can score score score and be himself.

    • Jan 3, 20131:10 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Actually, with young players, what you see is NOT what you get. That’s the point. That’s why, if Shawn Marion and Paul George turned in equally good seasons, George would be much more highly valued. That’s why we have another whole category of awards for rookies. That’s why, when you get average player production out of a young guy, you get so much more excited than the same out of an old player. That’s why some have expected Stuckey to turn some metaphorical corner year after year after year. And that is why, despite his generally improving incrementally each season, his play has typically been seen as disappointing.

      So your cliche is not only trite, it’s freaking WRONG*!!

      *disclaimer: it could be right, but if Knight does not continue to improve, that would be massively disappointing and would be an exception to the general way things happen

      • Jan 3, 20132:10 pm
        by Vic

        Reply

        So the common sense that applies to the Monroe Drummond combo does not apply to Knight… Because of hope.
        Okay that makes sense. No, it doesn’t.

        The problem with your trite with no disclaimers reply us that it comes from a mindset that doesnt see decision making or court vision as a talent. They’ll wait 6 years to see if it develops when talented decision makers pass them by every year. Monroe can do all the calf raises and squats he wants but he’ll never be the freak of nature Drummond is. But then ppl underestimate the value of natural court vision. So they do things like build a team around Dwight Howard till he leaves to play with Chris Paul. Joe is going to do the same thing with Drummond if they don’t get smart. They be going to the ECF another 6 years with no chips

        • Jan 3, 20134:49 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          It’s true that players rarely develop athleticism as they gain experience. Noone is disputing that. But just about every skill? Yeah, those happen. Choose any skill you want and I can give you examples of players who developed it. They don’t usually go from exceptionally terrible at something to exceptionally great at it, but significant gains are possible.

          Also, I’m confused by your comment. You think building around Dwight Howard is a bad idea? You think he left to play with Chris Paul? You think the Pistons have before gone to the ECF 6 straight years without winning a championship? You think doing so again (if it had happened) would be a bad thing? This is a very strange comment.

          • Jan 4, 20139:47 am
            by vic

            building around Dwight is a good idea, but not if you neglect to get someone with his polar opposit talent – a pure pg. Pistons have the same opportunity with Drummond, I just hope they don’t make the same mistake.

            Dwight wanted to play with a pure pg, like Chris Paul or Deron Williams. It just didn’t work out.

            However many ECFs they went to, they kept losing after the first one… that’s why Joe blew the team up. They had great players, but after Larry Brown left their lack of good decision making (a pure pg) showed up.

            My point is that decision making and court vision is a talent, not just something you get with hard work and trying hard. Teams that don’t acquire players with this talent are at a disadvantage.

    • Jan 3, 20133:18 pm
      by Big Rick

      Reply

      I agree with Vic 100% and have made several similar comments about Knight myself. It’s not crap to believe that Knight isn’t our “point guard of the future.” But what would be crap if the Pistons invest the next 3 to 4 seasnons in trying to force Knight to be that, while overlooking and passing up better and more viable options to play that position. That would be foolish and set our team back further! Didn’t we try something similar with Stuckey, he’s been with us 4 plus years right and his position and role still isn’t truly defined. Management and the PR spins it like its value in being a “combo guard” and try to sell him as that. It is what it is, that’s what we do. I just hope we don’t make the same mistakes with Knight. Believe it or not, I am a big fan of BK but you can’t be that oblivious to deny that we don’t need help at the PG position.  Although not many of us get paid to do it, as fans we critique our team passionately and give honest assesments. That’s what makes us more than “casual fans”, but even the most casual fan doesn’t have to do much dissecting of Knight’s game and see that as of now he is not best suited to be our PG. Honestly, I felt that he showed more court vision and flashes to have potential to be that PG last year. This year I feel that he regressed a little in that aspect.

      • Jan 3, 20134:52 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        I certainly agree that if the opportunity came to get a  better “PG of the future”, the Pistons should take it. What could possibly be better than signing CP3 next summer? But he is dead wrong in saying that we know what Knight is and that is all he’ll ever be. Knight may not develop new tools, but it would be silly to just assume he won’t.

  • Jan 3, 20131:15 pm
    by Derek

    Reply

    Shooting isn’t his only skill.  I remember Frank talking about his work ethic as a skill, which is essential to becoming great.  His work ethic is further fortified by his intelligence.

    The kid will blossom.  I hope he looks at the rankings and the comparisons and the doubts and uses all of it as fuel.

  • Jan 3, 20131:44 pm
    by Maeby

    Reply

    Barbosa! Why haven’t I thought of this comp. before? It’s perfect.

    That being said,as Thorpe pointed out, Knight is still very young, has a great work ethic, and is very smart. There’s obviously still hope for him to improve. Right now, though, I think that’s a great comparison.

    If you ask me, court vision is one of those things that a guy virtually has or doesn’t have, and a few more years playing ball won’t drastically develop it if you’re Brandon Knight, especially considering how much time he has spent in the gym over his life already. I think the upside of Brandon Knight lies in what he could be defensively.

  • Jan 3, 20135:10 pm
    by apa8ren9

    Reply

    Ive been critical of Knight’s play and his floor generalship but he has shown the ability to fight through and make and impact on games.  Right now, his ability to lead the team is lacking but I believe with some veteran guidance (I suggested Luke Ridnour, I believe he would also be an upgrade over Bynum)  his running the point can be further developed.  We dont have any one other than Bynum that can drop dimes, but right now he is in hero mode trying to preserve his playing time.  We shouldnt be so hasty to say that he definitely isnt the PG of the future.  By the end of season 3 we probably would have a better idea, but now is too soon.

  • Jan 3, 20135:38 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    I hear you Aoa8ren9. Yeah, it would be premature to write Knight off right now. I’ll give you that. Honestly, when Prince made those comments in the summer saying that we need a veteran PG I looked at that as a negative and sensed trouble brewing in the locker room. But Tay’s assessment was spot on. Actually as a Piston fan and Knight fan I have to admit that I was a little biased last year because I felt that Kyrie Irving wasn’t that much better than BK. For one he’s in a system that gives him the green light to do whatever and the ball is always in his Kyrie’s hands. But given the sample size of both sophmore guards I would have to say that Kyrie is more efficient, at the same time he is a score 1st point guard. Knight may not have the same opportunities as he, I’ll give him that but until recently Knight has been allowed to play through mistakes.

  • Jan 3, 20135:48 pm
    by Big Rick

    Reply

    Also, I noiced that quite a few people say he can learn to be a point guard and learn to have court vision. I kind of disagree with that notion, true he can learn to run an offense more efficiently but that elusive and rare court vision that few possess like, Magic, CP3, Zeke, Kidd, Nash, Rondo is more instinctive vice something that can be learned. His court awareness and savy can and will improve with time but that floor general and vision is a gift/trait that I don’t think can be taught. Just my opinion but I’m the same guy that thinks that you can’t learn to be a good defender. You can learn defensive schemes and systems, but becoming a good defensive player is more about instincts, effort and hustle more so than anything. You have to WANT to play defense. That’s one area where I think Knight has the tools to excel… defensivley.

    • Jan 4, 20139:40 am
      by vic

      Reply

      excellent point. 
      There’s a difference between what you “can” do in 4 years maybe.
      And what you “WILL” do now because its your natural talent.

      Monroe “can” dunk and block shots. Drummond “WILL” dunk and block shots.
      Knight “can” be a pg. But he “WILL” be a scorer. Let him be that, and stop trying to sand the square peg to fit in the round hole.
      Let’s get some body who “WILL” make great passes and grease the whole machine without turning the ball over, because they are talented at it, because that’s what we pay them for, not to work at it for 6 years. The talent is out there the Pistons just don’t want it, and its frustrating.

  • Jan 3, 201310:33 pm
    by Westen

    Reply

    The article doesn’t imply to me that they are similar because of their PER. He was just saying he sees the similarities and coincidentally the PERs are the same.

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