Unshaken Confidence

Brandon Knight: ‘I always believe I’m going to do great’

Brandon Knight is not letting the Pistons' record shake his confidence.
Dan Lippitt/NBAE/Getty Images
Brandon Knight was on the varsity at Pine Crest Prep as an eighth-grader and took the school to two Florida state titles. In his only season at Kentucky, he was the undisputed floor leader for a team that went to the Final Four. So a 4-18 record is killing him, right?

“I don’t really look at it as adversity,” he said of the first five weeks of his NBA career. “As long as I see progress, as long as I see things getting better, then I can stay positive. If things were staying the same, guys were doing the same things and not trying to buy in, that’s a different story. But guys are trying to get better, trying to do the right things, so it’s easy to stay positive when you see things changing.”

Knight is coming off perhaps his least effective game of the season on Monday at Milwaukee, held scoreless on 0 of 4 shooting with four turnovers and two assists in 24 minutes. If you think that his confidence will take a hit, guess again.

“I’m not that type of person,” he said. “I always remain confident in myself, no matter the situation. If I have a horrible game, next game I come back and believe I’m going to have a great game. It’s just basketball, you know? Sometimes you make shots; sometimes you don’t. No matter the situation, I always believe I’m going to do great.

Knight’s no-nonsense aura and the obvious work he puts in before and after every practice quickly won over veteran teammates who almost universally take a wait-and-see approach with rookies, never mind one-and-done wonders who often arrive in the NBA with a sense of entitlement.

“Whether I’m playing or not playing, I’m always going to work hard and approach the game the same way,” he said. “Lottery pick or not, I would have come in and done the same things. That’s just my nature, whether I’m playing 20 minutes, 40 minutes, starting, not starting. I’m going to get there early, work out before and after, going to always put in the extra work. When I’m in practice, try to have the same intensity in every practice and every day.”

Any worries that as losses mount, losing becomes acceptable?

“I don’t think you can ever let that become acceptable,” he said. “If you’re a winner, you’re a winner. You’re never going to let losing affect you. It’s just innate. You’re just born with that. I don’t think it’s ever going to be something you’re just cool with.”

Knight quickly developed a reputation at Kentucky for embracing big moments. Even in games where he might have struggled, Knight was able to exhibit what Lawrence Frank has come to define as “instant amnesia” – brushing off a bad play to move on to the next. If there’s something out there that fazes him, making the occasional rookie mistake isn’t it.

“I’m not going to question my ability because I know how hard I work and I’m going to believe I’m better than the next guy at all times. That’s just the type of confidence I feel you have to have in yourself. You don’t have to boast or brag – that’s just the inner self-confidence you have to have to be successful.”

As the first third of Knight’s lockout-abbreviated rookie season has played out, he’s shown his reputation as a quick learner is deserved. And as he develops a mental book on league personnel and the nuances that separate the NBA from college basketball, he’s found that boundless confidence expanding.

“I’ve gotten more and more confident as I’ve seen more and more what I can do,” he said. “As I’ve gotten to play against guys, I’ve gotten more confident in my ability in myself and also my team. I know we can play with the best in the league. The teams we’ve competed against have almost all been playoff teams.”