On June 23, 2011, I sat anxiously at my computer watching one of my favorite sports days of the year, the NBA Draft. All the various scenarios for the Pistons ran through my head:
- Jonas Valanciunas could fall to #8. Would he be worth waiting a year for his arrival? (It felt exciting, but Darko-y at the same time.)
- There is no way Joe Dumars would setting for Tristan Thompson, right?
- Kemba Walker would probably be there. (Eh, felt a little Mateen Cleaves-y.)
- Could they trade down and take Kenneth Faried or just reach and take him at #8? He seemed very Dennis Rodman-y at the time (minus the mental baggage).
Finally, I settled on the best option being Bismack Biyombo. He seemed like the perfect complement to Greg Monroe as a raw, poor man’s Ben Wallace. But when the Kings took Biyombo as part of a trade with Charlotte, Detroit selected Brandon Knight.
Brandon Knight had a few things going for him.
- He was young. 19 years old means a lot of potential.
- He played for Kentucky. By definition, that means he must be an NBA prospect.
- He could shoot. Nearly 38% from 3pt range in college.
- He was a great person with a great work ethic.
Overall, I was lukewarm on him. I was really hoping for a big guy to compliment Monroe. (One unknown at the time is this pick left room for the Pistons to go big and draft Drummond one year later.) But, Rodney Stuckey did not seem like a long-term solution at the point, so a “point guard of the future” made a lot of sense.
So how was Brandon Knight as a rookie? In short, he was a high usage guy who shot the 3 ball well, turned the ball over a lot, and wasn’t particularly good at anything else. Here is Brandon’s scorecard for his rookie season.
To get perspective, I searched for a player with a similar rookie profile. The only point guard comp that made sense was Tony Delk. However, the player that was actually the best match was Randy Foye. Check out Foye’s rookie scorecard.
The profiles are similar, with an overall advantage to Foye. If Knight is to be viewed as “the point guard of the future”, the poor man’s Randy Foye is not the most encouraging comp for Pistons fans. However, one shortened lockout season does not make a career. Let’s see how Knight’s game has evolved this year.
Modest overall improvements, with the biggest difference is Knight’s ability to get to the free throw line more this year. Nevertheless, Brandon Knight continues to look below average. I want to believe that Knight is a rising star, but the large gap between rising star and Knight’s performance thus far in the NBA is hard to ignore.
Brandon Knight is still young, but that does make it too early to re-assess what type of player Knight will be for Detroit in the future. On draft night in 2011, the Pistons may have hoped for the next Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday or Chauncey Billups. A year and a half later, it might be wise for them to expect the next Randy Foye, Tony Delk or Terry Dehere instead. While the former is a starter you can build around, the later is a nice player off the bench.
The “point guard of the future” is probably still in the Piston’s future.