Off and Running

Knight’s speed, smarts, skills promise a bright Pistons future

Brandon Knight looks to have a long and prosperous tenure with the Pistons.
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What an impressive rookie Brandon Knight has proven to be. I’ve been impressed almost since day one. He has some very special qualities in his game and you can tell he’s driven, but driven in the right way. He’s not going to get under the skin of his teammates. Hopefully, he gets under the skin of opponents, but he’s the kind of guy teammates respect and like and want to be on the floor with.

His ability is way above average. He takes a few steps back occasionally, but always manages many more steps forward. Compare his game now to how he was in the preseason and even the beginning of the regular season and you’d see he’s made a quantum leap. He understands the league as much as you could expect in his first year with a shortened training camp and only one year of college behind him.

The first thing that jumps out at you about Brandon is his speed and quickness. He can beat almost anybody up and down the court. He has the ability to get to the basket and yet has the ability to get his feet together and knock down threes, even at crunch time. He doesn’t shy away from anything. He has quick hands defensively, the ability to stay in front of people and a great handle.

The way the pro game is played, I believe, is only going to help him. He sees the floor extremely well. He’s made some incredible passes. I remember a bounce pass into the post to Greg Monroe for a layup that he somehow was able to thread through defenders. The pass was red hot, but when you’re in the NBA you expect your big man to be good enough to catch it and Greg obviously is. Some of those passes in college would be a turnover, but they’re not in the pros and he’s starting to understand that. He was maybe hesitant to make them early, but now he knows NBA players – especially the quality of Greg Monroe – can make catches and finish.

Brandon is a very bright guy. He’s mature beyond his years. He wants to help all his teammates get better and I think they immediately understood that. Of course he wants to become an All-Star. Of course he wants to be among the best point guards in the league someday. But, you can tell, he also wants to help his team win and wants to help his teammates have more success on the court when he’s out there. Guys pick up on that. They know this is not about him; it’s about the Detroit Pistons. Brandon is sharp enough to know that all the honors will come once he’s made himself and his teammates better. You’ve got to like a guy like that.

I think Brandon’s abilities are perfect for the NBA at this time. The point guard position is still a position of tremendous responsibility. You have to run the offense. You have to help your teammates play at the top of their game. You have to make difficult decisions and make them on the fly. But you also have to be able to score – and be able to defend another point guard who is trying to make plays like you are and also trying to score like you are. Point guards have more all-around skill now than they’ve ever had. That makes it more difficult to play that position and more difficult to defend that position. Brandon seems to do a marvelous job of both for such a young player with such limited experience.

I’m excited about him. He’s fun to watch. I think his future is as bright as any young point guard in the league. Brandon is one of the reasons people should come out and watch this team play. They’re going to have nights where they stub their toes, because they’re a young team still learning a new system and trying to compete in the greatest league in the world. But you can see, if you watch these games, that the future is bright. Not just inside, where Greg Monroe is almost a guaranteed future star down the road, but also at that point guard spot.

Brandon is just too smart and too talented and too driven not to end up being an elite guard in our league. When you have the point guard and the center position in the hands of standout or star-caliber players, you’re on your way.

I’ve got to go back to quoting my old partner Dick Motta, who said when he came into the league there were five good centers and five good point guards and years later there were still five good ones at each position. When you have a guy from both lists, you’ve got yourself a heck of a basketball team. And I believe that in the not-too-distant future, the Pistons will have someone on both lists.