Projecting Brandon Knight's rookie production

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Brandon Knight #12 of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts after a play against the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Kevin Pelton, writing for ESPN Insider, has come up with projected stat lines for next year's class of rookies using a formula that combines objective data (including college stats, strength of schedule and last year's offensive pace for their new team) and educated guesses (namely, playing time). How does Brandon Knight fare? Better than you might expect:

Brandon Knight: 24.0 mpg, 8.0 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.2 rpg

Knight gets plugged into the combo guard role played by Tracy McGrady for the Pistons a year ago. As compared to his predecessors at the point for John Calipari (Rose, Wall and Tyreke Evans), Knight is not nearly as ready to contribute immediately -- especially as a passer. The upside is that all of those players significantly outperformed their rookie-year projections because the NBA's rules regarding contact on the perimeter made them dangerous off the dribble.

If you trust Pelton's formula (I'm curious what kind of shooting numbers he projects), the key variable is playing time. Knight could easily eclipse 24 minutes a game if he's installed as a starter, but that's a big "if". Without a playbook for summer reading, without any coaching at summer league and with a (likely) shortened training camp, Knight's learning curve will be steep early in the season -- as would any teenager's with just one season of college under his belt.

Greg Monroe was able to do what he did last year by simply reacting to the play -- as he told me following Knight's introductory press conference, "They didn't really have any plays called for me." But as a point guard, Knight won't have that luxury. With that in mind, I suspect 24 minutes a game might be Knight's ceiling as a rookie, at least until/unless Joe Dumars clears up minutes by eliminating some of the competition in the backcourt.

Random aside that may or may not be worth considering: Rodney Stuckey averaged 19.0 minutes as the No. 3 guard his rookie season in 2007-08, playing on a squad with much more clarity of roles.

Hat-tip to PistonPowered for the link

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