4 Reasons Brandon Knight Is the Answer at Point Guard for the Detroit Pistons
As his second NBA season comes to a close, there have been questions about how Brandon Knight will fit with the Detroit Pistons in the future. With the addition of Jose Calderon at the trade deadline, people have wondered if Knight can be the Pistons point guard of the future.
The Pistons have question marks at nearly every position on the court, but their frontcourt has been particularly troublesome. With Knight, Calderon, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum, the Pistons have four point guards averaging over 18 minutes per game this season. They have two players listed at shooting guard on the roster, Kyle Singler and Kim English, but haven't played well; neither has a PER above 10.
That has led the Pistons to move Knight to shooting guard, where the results have been mixed. He scored 32 points in a game against Washington on Feb. 27, yet has had his worst scoring month of the season in March.
With an upcoming lottery pick and over $20 million in cap space, Detroit's management has to evaluate its point guard situation. These are the reasons why Brandon Knight can be the point guard of the future for the Pistons.
Knight arguably has the most upside as a defensive ace. He has the size and athleticism to match up well against point guards and all but the biggest shooting guards.
At 6'3", Knight is taller than the majority of NBA point guards. And with a wingspan of 6'6.75" he has the ability to defend taller players. He is very thin, listed at just 189 pounds, but as his body matures and he spends more time in the weight room, he will gain the strength to defend stronger guards.
The Pistons have been a very poor defensive team overall this season, currently 25th in defensive efficiency, per NBA.com. However, Knight has been a part of the five best defensive lineups the Pistons have used this season, with Greg Monroe being the only other player that can make that claim.
The best defensive lineup for the Pistons this season included Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince (traded to Memphis), Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Those five gave up just 95.6 points per 100 possessions while on the court together, albeit in a small sample size of just 68 minutes.
Their second-best defensive lineup featured Knight, Kyle Singler, Prince, Jason Maxiell and Monroe. That group played 608 minutes together, giving up 100.8 points per 100 possessions.
Knight is far from a finished product defensively, but he has all the tools to become a very good player on that end of the court. Knight, Monroe and Drummond form a core of young players with good defensive potential that the pistons can build around going forward.
The one area where Knight has already proven to be very good has been his shooting.
Knight has shot 36.7 percent from three this season and 37.4 percent for his career. Both numbers are above the league average this season.
Having a three-point shot does not make Knight a quality point guard by itself, but it will be a very useful weapon to have as the rest of his game develops.
Even this early in his career, Knight shoots better from the outside than starting point guards Mike Conley, Kemba Walker and Jeff Teague. Having the ability to make outside jumpers at 21 will allow Knight to work on other skills in the offseason.
The Pistons have been one of the worst teams in the league this season; they currently have the fifth-worst winning percentage in the league. There are only four players on the roster (Knight is not one of them) that has a PER above 15, the league average.
As a point guard, Knight will benefit from an improved supporting cast. The current roster really only has two players who can create their own shot: Knight and Monroe. Adding another quality scorer would take pressure off of Knight.
Knight would be ideally suited as a third or fourth option on a team, yet he is forced into the number two role with the Pistons because the team lacks offensive weapons. Adding a talented wing scorer via the draft or free agency would take some pressure off of Knight and allow him to take more efficient shots.
Knight may be finishing his second NBA season, but he is barely 21 years old. If he had stayed in school, Knight would only have been a junior this season at Kentucky.
He may not have been an NBA-ready lead guard when he entered the draft, but Knight has plenty of time to develop into a very good floor general.
Memphis' Mike Conley is another point guard that struggled after just one year in college. After going to the national championship game with Ohio State, Conley didn't have a PER of 15 for his first three NBA seasons. Now he is a very solid point guard for a Memphis team that is on pace to win 55 games this season.
The two one-and-done guards have had similar second seasons:
Conley: 10.9 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 44.2 field goal percentage in 30.6 minutes per game.
Knight: 13.7 points, 4.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 41.1 field goal percentage in 32.3 minutes per game.
Conley struggled to adapt to the NBA on a team that won just 24 games. His offensive game is a bit different than Knight's, but he is a good example of a young point guard that people questioned who has become a solid pro. His size and scoring ability give him the potential to be a better point guard than Conley in the future.