I am still high on Brandon Knight's future with the Detroit Pistons and feel that he can be a solid starting point guard in the NBA. While I still believe Knight's future is at point guard, I'm not a scout or coach.
So, the question remains: Do the Pistons think Knight is still capable of being a point guard?
Knight has played in the NBA for a season and a half, averaging over 30 minutes per game. While primarily playing as a point guard last year, Knight averaged 3.8 assists per game. This year he is up to averaging 4.4 assists per game.
Plain and simple, those numbers aren't good enough for a starting point guard in the NBA.
In December and January, Knight's highest assist total in one game was seven. However, he definitely feels comfortable shooting the basketball and playing as a shooting guard. With Rodney Stuckey benched against the Orlando Magic on Jan. 27, Knight exploded with 31 points, but more telling was the fact that he had zero assists.
When the Pistons traded for Jose Calderon on Jan. 30, they acquired a great pass-first point guard—which Knight is currently not. Moreover, they also acquired his $10.5 million expiring contract after this year.
As Pistons GM Joe Dumars told David Mayo of MLive.com, "What cap space does now is more than allow you to target free agents...It allows you to be creative in acquiring guys and adding them to your team."
Dumars also may have revealed how the Pistons feel about where Knight would be best suited to play by telling John Niyo of the Detroit News, "because it's clear we need a true point guard on this team," when referring to Calderon's future with the Pistons.
But while Calderon's expiring $10.5 million is very positive for the Pistons, this deal would never have happened if Knight had developed more quickly as a true point guard.
Meanwhile, Calderon's skills as a point guard are obvious—his 4.4 assist-to-turnover ratio is fourth best in the league this year, and as he told David Mayo:
I'll try to help everybody, Calderon said. That's what I try to do as a point guard. I try to get everybody involved in the game, get them in the right positions, get them involved at the right times. I just need a few practices and games.
That is what these Pistons need right now and what Knight needs to understand. Otherwise, the Pistons may move him to shooting guard permanently.
If an added bonus of the Calderon trade is a wake-up call for Knight, then this trade will have been considered a success regardless of what the Pistons do with the added cap room.
So far it appears Knight might have gotten the message, as he had one of his best decision-making games as a point guard on Friday, Feb. 1, against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Calderon still couldn't play due to visa issues and I don't think it's a coincidence that Knight, who will switch to shooting guard once Calderon can play, had a stat line of 20 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.
Knight showed all the potential against the Cavaliers that the Pistons and fans have been hoping to see out of him as point guard. The rest of the season will determine whether we see Knight's future as a shooting guard or point guard, and through his play, whether Calderon will be a Piston next season.