Over the course of this season, Detroit Pistons fans have been very excited about rookie Brandon Knight. There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to the first-year point guard. He is scary quick, very athletic and shows a poise on the court that the Pistons have sorely been missing.
One of the common refrains about Knight is that he is destined to be one of the Pistons all-time great point guards.
In some cases, people have compared Knight to the greatest Pistons player of all time, Isiah Lord Thomas III. Let's make this perfectly clear to those that are reading this. Brandon Knight will never be Isiah Thomas.
For those of you that are of a younger age, you can be forgiven if you don't grasp the greatness of Isiah. Those that saw him play can tell you, he is one of the few players in the history of the NBA that is not soon to be duplicated.
From a physical standpoint, you can make an argument that Knight could become Zeke. He is about the same height and weight as Thomas. He also plays the same position and entered the league more or less around the same age as Isiah.
He also is mature beyond his years, something that certainly puts him in the discussion with Isiah.
But Thomas was a transcendent player. We aren't talking about a very good player. We are talking about one of the greatest players of all time.
What made Thomas so great was not just his lightning quick first step, his second-to-none ball-handling or his killer crossover. What made Thomas so great was that he possessed all of those things, plus a killer instinct and an ability to get to the hoop whenever he wanted.
Thomas was only 6'1'', but he played like someone 6'6''. He flourished when the game was on the line, and he more often than not won the game by himself. But more than his stellar scoring ability was his ability to make his teammates better.
Thomas not only was a top-notch scoring threat, but he also had the ability to find teammates and get them the ball in positions to succeed.
Think about this. He never truly had a scoring big man like Magic Johnson, John Stockton or Steve Nash but he still managed to rank number three on the all-time assists list when he retired.
To produce double-digit assists seasons without having a go-to scorer is beyond hard. In fact, nobody in the history of the league has been able to do it prior or since.
Looking at the all-time assists leaders, right now Isiah is number seven on the list.
Stockton, Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Nash are ahead of him.
Stockton had Karl Malone, arguably the best power forward of all-time.
Kidd started his career with Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn, and has continued with Kenyon Martin, Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki, all of whom are All-Stars.
Jackson played the bulk of his career with Patrick Ewing as his teammate, pretty much a guaranteed two points.
Magic had Kareem, Worthy and a whole cast of players with him.
Oscar Robertson also had Kareem.
Nash has had Amar'e Stoudamire, Shaquille O'Neal, Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.
Isiah had Bill Laimbeer and Joe Dumars, two perimeter scorers that did very little to help his assist numbers.
But I digress.
Brandon Knight is showing some flashes of brilliance, and in my estimation has a very high ceiling. If he makes it to an All-Star game before he retires, it will be a great pick for Detroit.
But Thomas made 11 and was the MVP of two of them.
Personally, I think that a better comparison for Knight is Lindsey Hunter. Hunter was also a lottery pick, and someone that dazzled with his quickness and scoring ability.
He also joined Detroit during a rough spot, and helped bring the team back to the playoffs.
But he too was unfairly compared to Thomas, and his career was never able to reach those heights. And why would it, Thomas was Thomas, Hunter was Hunter.
But would anyone call Hunter's career a failure because he didn't become the next Isiah Thomas?
Absolutely not. He had a very good career.
And so too will Knight.
But Pistons fans need to realize that there will only be one Isiah, and we are lucky to have seen him once.
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