Pistons fans have been drooling over Bismack Biyombo for months, but that dream came to an abrupt end when the Charlotte Bobcats (via the Sacramento Kings) took the Congolese big man at No. 7. With Tristan Thompson already off the board, the Pistons opted to take the best available talent instead of reaching to fill their need for a big man.
Brandon Knight, a freshman point guard out of Kentucky, was rumored to go as high as third overall in numerous mock drafts leading up to tonight, so the fact he fell all the way to No. 8 is a surprise. But does he fit in Detroit? It depends on your point of view. Some see Knight as yet another combo guard, some believe he'll develop into a pure point.
If the latter comes true, he could emerge as a vital cog in Detroit's turn around. That said, the idea of a "pure point guard" is essentially a myth in today's NBA. Who's the last "pure point" to enter the league in the last five years? How many "pure points" start in the league? The true measure is whether he makes his team better when he's on the court, simple as that.
Knight hasn't been linked to the Pistons in quite some time -- as I said, he was projected to go much higher and didn't even work out for the organization -- but in May he did speak about Detroit while attending the NBA's Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago. From HOOPSWORLD:
Knight comes across as a quiet, polite young man who when asked a question by a Pistons reporter told the collected media, "I like the Pistons. They seem like a great organization, a younger team. I wouldn't mind going to Detroit. It seems like a great place to be."
The Pistons would be ecstatic to be able to draft Knight at eight as the young man is as high as third on some mock draft boards. The 6' 3" freshman point guard helped take Kentucky to the Final Four this year by averaging 17.3 points on 42.3 percent shooting with 4.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists. The only knock on Knight's game was his 3.2 turnovers per game. However, this very young 18-year-old improved over the college season and has a strong upside.
DraftExpress on Knight's measurements from the same Chicago camp:
Brandon Knight (6-1 ½ without shoes) was the lightest player in Chicago at 177 pounds, and registered the second lowest body fat percentage at 4.2%. Amongst point guards drafted in the top-15, Knight's height/weight combination is similar to Jason Terry's (6-1.5 without shoes, 176 pounds). His 6-6 ¾ wingspan is well above average, and his size should be an advantage for him as he continues to pack weight on his frame.
Something to keep in mind is that the NBA measures players with shoes -- all players officially listed at 6-3 are closer to 6-1 ½ without shoes. So don't sweat the height. I'm also not overly concerned about his weight given how strong he is -- he managed 10 reps on the bench press (185 pounds), the same as 6-foot-11 Jeremy Tyler. (For more on Knight's measurables and how they stack up against recent guard draft picks, check out this amazing table at SLC Dunk.)
Knight's media day interview from Wednesday -- check out the 4-minute mark when he disputes the label "combo guard" and insists he's a true point:
Praise from various college coaches, courtesy of NBA.com:
Kentucky coach John Calipari
"I told him that his curve is probably sharper than even Derrick's or Tyreke's or John's. Where he was at the beginning of the year and where he is now, it's been a—you're talking about a freshman, 18-year-old guard, leading his team, playing just about every minute that he can stand on that basketball court. And we're one of the five teams in the country with the least amount of turnovers. And so that alone, he's running the club, he's still scoring, we need him to score points, he's kind of going through what Tyreke and John Wall went through. Those two in high school took a lot of shots, just like Brandon, and had to figure out how I do this within this team. Derrick was a little different. We had to get him to shoot. But I'm really pleased, really pleased."
Former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl
"Brandon Knight’s a better shooter [than John Wall]. They both have got great length as point guards. John Wall might be the fastest guard from end to end to ever play the game. That’s one facet of being a point guard is his explosiveness and speed. He’s just a rare athlete like that. But Brandon Knight’s got length, he’s got every bit the feel, he’s a better shooter. He’s a good defender. I just think they’re comparable with the exception of Wall’s rare athleticism and explosiveness and speed with the ball."
Ohio State coach Thad Matta
"I’m very impressed with his ability to run their team. He's got the ability to not only score, but he makes players better around him. For his size as a point guard he is long, he is athletic, and he showed in the Princeton game things … he didn't shoot the ball particularly well in that game but he makes the game-winner. With as young as they are, I think he has done a tremendous job of coming in and learning the system that they are trying to play. He is a heck of a player. He is a challenge to guard."
Georgia coach Mark Fox
"I think he’s a better player in the half court than John Wall was. He shoots the ball better. He goes by you on the dribble. He’s got a super mind for the game. He makes passes that makes players better."
Strengths: Heady point guard with great size and explosive scoring ability ... Very natural scorer with an effortless shooting ability and excellent instincts off the dribble ... Very quick in half-court situations ... Great first step ... Penetrates the defense and gets into the paint with ease ... Possesses a good-looking runner, which can be extremely useful for point guards at the next level ... A fast runner in the open court ... Makes good decisions in fast-break opportunities ... Great size for a point guard, standing 6'3.25" in shoes with a 6'6.75" wingspan ... Uses his length and solid athleticism to finish well around the rim ... Looks comfortable with the ball in his hands ... Creates shots well for himself ... Uses a lot of hesitations and fakes to get himself open ... Shoots the ball often and with confidence ... Already has NBA three-point range ... Likes to surprise the defense with a quick pull-up jumper just inside the arc ... Doesn't get rattled easily ... Thrives in high-pressure situations ... Had a reputation for being a clutch performer in high school and has certainly lived up to that at Kentucky (game-winners against Princeton and Ohio State in the NCAA tournament) ... Unselfish passer who looks to keep his teammates involved ... Good timing in pick and roll situations ... Very smart defender that doesn't gamble for steals a lot ... Has the quick feet and long arms to stay in front of his man and deny penetration ... Highly competitive and mature ... Had a 4.0 GPA at Kentucky, which suggests that he is also responsible off the court ... Only 19 years old with a strong work-ethic and a high upside ... Will continue to improve ...
Weaknesses: Not a pure point guard ... Ball handling ability needs a lot of work. His dribble is too high and will be easy to pick unless he improves upon it ... Passing ability is respectable, but not intuitive ... Very turnover prone, especially when trying to create for others ... Gets caught trying to make "home run" passes at times, when a more conservative approach would save his team the possession... Efficiency leaves something to be desired ... Only shot 42.3% from the floor... Very streaky shooter ... Takes ill-advised shots, which aren't really a problem when he's hot, but can make you scratch your head if he wasn't having a good game to begin with... Athletically, his leaping ability is fairly average... Isn't a real threat to explode vertically or dunk on the defense ... At 177 lbs, he'll get pushed around by the stronger guards in the NBA ...
Overall: Knight is a ton notch prospect with a great future ahead of him ... He isn't a complete player yet, but he's only 19 and has a lot of time to improve ... John Calipari-coached point guards (Rose, Evans, Wall) have all seen a lot of success in the NBA and Knight looks to be the next in line ... Any team looking to add a franchise point guard from this year's draft will have to take a hard look at Knight ... He won't stay on the board for long, and he'll have a good chance of being a top-5 pick ...