Born to Lead

Maggette anoints Knight 'franchise player' and Pistons leader

The Pistons have buzzed about the leadership qualities they see in NBA veteran Corey Maggette, but Maggette made clear whom he sees as the player destined to emerge as their unquestioned leader. The subject after Wednesday’s three-hour practice got around to the emphasis Lawrence Frank has placed on communication throughout training camp when Maggette, toward the end of a typically thoughtful answer, volunteered that “the leader of this team, Brandon Knight, is doing a tremendous job getting these guys together, talking as much as possible and also helping the young guys as well.”

Let’s take a timeout here to recall that Knight, 20, is younger than 15 of the 16 other players in camp, an elder to only Andre Drummond.

“I can see in him a leader,” Maggette expounded. “He’s the point guard. He’s the leader of our team. He’s the one who’s going to be having the ball in his hands and making the calls. He can do that. He has the ability to be the leader of this team. I call him the ‘franchise player.’ He probably doesn’t like it, but that’s what I consider him as. This is a guy who can set the tempo for everybody. If you watch this camp, the way he’s played – aggressive on both ends of the floor – that’s what a leader does. I’m going to keep calling him a leader.”

The best teams – and especially the best teams in Pistons history, the ones that account for the three championship banners that adorn The Palace’s rafters – feature a collective leadership, so no one is loading the burden entirely on Knight’s shoulders.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys grow in that regard,” said Frank, who challenged Knight to take charge of the Summer League team in Orlando. “I go back to the elements of leadership. Your best players are always going to be your leaders, whether they want it or not. That’s the deal. The key is, do they unite and inspire with their actions?

“When your best players are your hardest workers, they value what the team values, what the coach values and they live it – you’ve got to live, tell it and take it – and they’re unselfish, how do you not follow guys like that? That’s what you want from your best players and Brandon is a very good model for it. But we’ve seen a lot of guys so far in five practices doing leadership things. That’s great. Everyone is sharing the burden.”

Maggette also cited Greg Monroe for the way he’s taken Andre Drummond and Slava Kravtsov under his wing to help them with the nuances of Frank’s offensive playbook and defensive schemes. But Maggette sees in Knight a natural leader, and it goes beyond the fact that he lines up at point guard, where leadership often falls due to the nature of the position.

“You can lead by example and he’s doing that on the court,” Maggette said. “He’s working hard. He’s doing all the right things and guys really look at that. He’s earning his respect. If you look at this guy, you’d never think he was in his second year. He’s very poised and I’m just happy to see it.”