Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Knight needs to prove he can run an offense and take care of the ball.
Regardless of Billups' leadership and experience, Knight will be the Pistons' best option to start at point guard if he shows even moderate improvement from last season.
Last season Billups was the more efficient offensive player, with a PER nearly three points higher than Knight. He turned the ball over less and was 20 percent better from the line (93.8 to 73.3 percent). But outside of those areas, Billups wasn't much better.
Billups was the slightly better scorer, averaging 15.8 points per 36 minutes, compared to Knight's 15.2. Knight shot half a percent better from the field (40.7 to 40.2), and both made 36.7 percent of their threes. He also averaged slightly more rebounds and assists per 36 minutes than Billups.
Knight is just 21 and will benefit from the best surrounding cast he's had in his three NBA seasons. Billups will be 37 at the start of the season and has suffered foot and Achilles injuries over the past two seasons.
The ceiling for Knight's 2013-14 season is substantially higher than Billups'.
Throw in Knight's superior defensive ability (he gave up a PER of 11.2 to opposing point guards, Billups gave up an 18.6, per 82games.com), and there's no doubt that he brings the most to the table at point guard for the Pistons. But given his lack of improvement from his first to second year, there's no guarantee he will maximize his talents.
Knight has a great deal of skill, but he's underperformed during his first two seasons. His ability to start living up to his potential and become an above-average NBA point guard will play a big role in how successful the Pistons are this season.