No one knows what will happen in the NBA draft -- we're two weeks out, and we still don't know who's going No. 1, let alone No. 8 when the Detroit Pistons are on the clock. But, at least on paper, it seems likely the Pistons will select a guard -- and that's a good thing.
Rodney Stuckey is entering the final year of his contract and is a prime candidate to be dealt before the start of the season. Jose Calderon is a free agent, and while I'd love to have him back, he may take the opportunity to finally join a winning team after years of losing in Toronto and Detroit.
As for Brandon Knight? There's little evidence that suggests he deserves to be a starting guard in the NBA, and certainly not a starting point guard. Mo Cheeks briefly mentioned Knight's ambiguous role during his introductory press conference Thursday, albeit in nicer terms than I just did. From John Niyo of the Detroit News:
"Brandon has some point-guard skills, and he has some 2-guard skills," said Cheeks. [...]
"So I’m not gonna label Brandon as just a point guard. Stuckey can also play some point guard. To say (Knight) can just be a point guard, I don’t think so. He can be a 1 and he can be a 2, as Stuckey can."
I'm guessing Cheeks got his talking points from Joe Dumars, who said virtually the same thing:
"He’s a guy that you can play at both positions," Dumars said Thursday, when I asked him again about Knight’s role. "Other teams are doing it. It’s not a novel concept."
[...] "Right now, I don’t think you can slot him," Dumars said. "Going into his third year, I don’t think we’re in a position to say he’s just a point guard or he’s just a 2-guard. The way we’ve got to look at him right now is he’s a combo guard."
Of course, as Dumars quickly added, "He might disagree."
It's awfully nice of Dumars to spin it this way, saying Knight isn't just a point guard, or just a 2-guard, subtly implying he might be both. But right now the truth is that he's neither, and it's worrisome how little improvement he showed from his first season to his second.
Maybe he takes the next step and develops into a starter, or maybe he grows into a reliable third guard off the bench. I'm eager to see how he responds -- he's still incredibly young, and by all accounts an extremely hard worker, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that it might go either way. I'm curious to see what, if anything, Cheeks can do to help with that development as a former All-Star point guard who's coached the likes of Allen Iverson and Russell Westbrook.
But while we're waiting to see what Knight might eventually become, his presence won't dictate what the Pistons do in the draft or free agency, as Dumars admitted.
"What it does do is allow you to draft the best player," Dumars said. [...] "Let’s say you’re looking at a guard. You can draft the best point or the best 2-guard."