The last three years, the Pistons’ pre-draft big board had Monroe No. 5, Knight No. 3 and Drummond No. 2.
I can make reasonable guesses at the Pistons’ draft boards in 2010 and 2012, but 2011 gets tricky. Let’s start with the easier ones.
1. John Wall
2. Evan Turner
3. DeMarcus Cousins
4. Derrick Favors
5. Greg Monroe
1. Anthony Davis
This one is much harder to square.
Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams were the consensus top two prospects in the draft.
The Pistons were reported to really like Jonas Valanciunas, and there was a report long after the draft that the Pistons tried to trade up to the No. 5 pick – when Knight was still available, obviously – just to draft Valanciunas.
Enes Kanter was also generally considered a better prospect and fit a bigger need at that time, and the Pistons heavily scouted Kentucky practices just to see him.
That’s four players, only two of whom could rank ahead of Knight according to Mayo.
Did the Pistons really prefer Knight to at least two of Irving, Williams, Kanter and Valanciunas? I find that difficult to believe.
It would also make the Pistons very foolish. I get that they liked Knight a lot more than a No. 8 player, but history shows he was nowhere near the third-best player in that draft.
Of the top 10 prospects in that draft as rated by Chad Ford – Irving, Williams, Kanter, Valanciunas, Knight, Kawhi Leonard, Tristan Thompson, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and Kenneth Faried – Knight might have the least value right now.
At the time, drafting Knight at No. 8 was perfectly reasonable. Heck, he also would have been my choice, though I never viewed him as the great steal the Pistons did. But in hindsight, he was drafted too high. Ranking him third – if true – would have been way too high.
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