There was a lot of uncertainty as to when University of Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight would be selected in the first round of Thursday night's NBA Draft. Knight, who was the No. 4 overall player on Chad Ford's Big Board, slipped into the fortunate hands of the Detroit Pistons, who selected him with the No. 8 pick in the draft.
Knight fell to the Pistons because the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings, who were both expected to draft a guard, opted to select big men. The Raptors selected Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas at No. 5, while the Kings picked up Congolese power forward Bismack Biyombo with the No. 7 pick. Biyombo was projected to be selected by the Pistons in multiple mock drafts.
The only other guard selected in the top eight picks in the draft was Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick.
The Pistons are getting a great player in Knight and what makes it even better for them is that they probably did not expect him to be available when they were on the clock.
Knight averaged 17.3 points per game, four rebounds per game and four assists per game as a freshman on Kentucky's Final Four team this past season. Knight will need some time to develop like almost all of the players in this draft, but he has tremendous upside and has a long reach.
Knight will join a Pistons team that is in a rebuilding phase. Current Pistons point guard Ben Gordon has three years left on a contract that pays him close to $11 million per year. I think the Pistons want Knight to develop and learn from Gordon and then take over in three years when Gordon's contract is up to avoid re-signing him and free up a lot of salary cap space.
There was a lot of attention paid to Knight's somewhat unhappy reaction to being selected by the Pistons, but I think he was just frustrated he slipped so far in the draft. Knight seemed ready to get to Detroit and help them contend again when he was interviewed last night.
"I did expect to go higher (in the draft), but everything happens for a reason and I'm happy to be in Detroit," Knight said. "I know that the team is in a rebuilding stage and I'm happy to be a part of that and I'm happy to come in and try to help them compete for a championship."
With their other two picks in the draft the Pistons took Duke small forward Kyle Singler and University of Florida power forward Vernon Macklin. Singler was selected with the 33rd overall pick and Macklin with the 52nd selection.
Singler was a prominent player for four years at Duke and was the MVP of the 2010 Final Four. Sinlger was a great defender at the college level, rebounded well, and had great range as a shooter. Pistons vice president Scott Perry had nothing but good things to tell The Detroit Free Press about Singler.
"Not only is he accomplished on the court, but you're talking about a high-character individual," Perry said. "His record speaks for itself at Duke. He was very well coached, he's a winner, and he's tough. He's a very good defender."
Macklin started his college career at Georgetown University, but transferred to Florida after two seasons there. The long armed Macklin was a good rebounder in college and is a high-character individual.
"Vernon's a solid guy. He was one of the top high school players when he came out five years ago," Perry said. "When he signed at Georgetown, he played behind a couple of NBA players in Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. He didn't have the great big numbers that he probably wanted to have, but the last part of his senior year he really started to pick up and play well."
Overall I give the Pistons an A grade for their draft. They got the fourth best player in the draft (Knight), a thought to be first round pick early in the second round (Singler), and added to their post depth with Macklin. This was probably the best the Pistons could have done in such a lackluster draft class.
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