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2019-20 Preseason Profile: Brandon Knight

After Bounce-Back Season, Knight Looks Ahead
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Beat Writer

2019-20 Preseason Profile:
Brandon Knight

After Bounce-Back Season, Knight Looks Ahead


Sure, it’s only mid-September, but here’s a nice Christmas story anyway …

Shaun Livingston was drafted by the L.A. Clippers with the 4th overall pick in the 2004 as a point guard with the size and length of a small forward. His career was off to a solid start, but on the evening of February 26, 2007, he suffered a gruesome knee injury – blowing out his MCL, PCL and ACL. Basically, his left knee was destroyed.

After an arduous rehab, Livingston was able to compete at the NBA level again, but he obviously wasn’t the same player. He was traded twice and cut four times – by the Rockets, Thunder and twice by Washington, the second of the two coming on December 22, 2012.

His career seemed to be over when Cleveland signed him as a free agent three days later – on Christmas.

The guard proceeded to have a strong run to end the season with the young Cavaliers – starting 12 of the season’s final 49 games, shooting over 50 percent from the floor and finishing second on the team in assists behind sophomore Kyrie Irving, who Livingston mentored throughout the year.

The next year, Livingston signed with Brooklyn and started 54 games. The following season, he inked a deal with Golden State, where he’d spend the next five years – winning three NBA Championships (and tormenting the team that revived his career on Christmas, shooting .558 from the floor in four Finals series).

The point of the story is that sometimes, players who’ve suffered injuries can indeed have a second or third act to their careers.

And that brings us to today’s preseason profile – veteran guard Brandon Knight.

After an incredible NCAA Tourney run with Kentucky, the Pistons made Knight the 8th overall pick of the 2011 Draft. Despite being traded twice over his first five years, the Miami native’s career was off to an excellent start – averaging 19.6 ppg and 5.1 assists with Phoenix as recently as 2015-16.

But a series of knee injuries continued to slow down the lightning-quick point man, and complications from surgery forced him to miss the entire 2017-18 season. By the 2018-19 campaign, he was trying to rehabilitate his career in the G-League after being dealt to Houston in the offseason.

He piled up 43 DNPs with the Rockets, including his final 14 games, before being dealt to the Cavaliers along with Marquese Chriss at last year’s Trade Deadline.

In his first game with the Cavaliers, he went 3-for-3 from long-range for nine points in 11 minutes off the bench against Indiana. He started the very next game for Cleveland, going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in a double-digit home win over New York.

Knight would proceed to start the Cavaliers’ final 26 games of the year alongside Colin Sexton, and while he didn’t look exactly like the player who came out of Kentucky seven years ago, he definitely showed flashes of his former self.

This year, the 27-year-old hopes to build on that strong finish – and rebuild his career moving forward.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American life. Try telling that to Shaun Livingston and Brandon Knight.


Aside from solid numbers, Knight was also a strong veteran voice for rookie Collin Sexton.
Photo: David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images


LOOKING BACK -- Knight got off to the aforementioned hot start with Cleveland, canning six of his first seven three-point attempts and finding himself in the starting lineup one game into his tenure.

Knight put up solid numbers – netting double-figures in 10 games, averaging 8.5 points and 2.3 assists in just under 23 minutes per contest. But it was more than just points and assists that made him valuable.

The former Lottery pick was a veteran voice for Collin Sexton, and the Young Bull’s strong finish is in direct correlation to Knight’s arrival. On the floor, Knight running the point allowed Sexton to play off the ball and take some of the pressure off him as a primary ballhandler.

As the second half of the season progressed, Knight also continued to get stronger, showing flashes of the player who averaged 16.1 ppg through his first five years in the league.

Beginning with a 15-point night in a March 8 contest against his hometown Heat, Knight netted double-figures in six of his next seven games, handing out four or more assists and shooting better than 50 percent from the field in four of them.


BY THE NUMBERS: 15.0, .524, .600 … Scoring average, shooting and three-point percentages, respectively, for Brandon Knight in two games against the San Antonio Spurs.

In his 26 starts to close the campaign, Knight went for double-figures against each of his former teams (Detroit [twice], Milwaukee and Phoenix).

He had only one double-figure scoring game before being traded: going for a dozen points in the last game he saw action in for Houston, a win over the Cavaliers.


LOOKING AHEAD -- With a new coaching staff and system, along with another point guard as a top pick, the Cavaliers world is still evolving for Brandon Knight. He was the Wine & Gold’s starter when last season ended, but early indications have been that John Beilein would like to play his young guards – Sexton and Darius Garland – together.

But Knight can still be valuable off the bench and, again, as a mentor to a young point guard/Lottery pick. Knight has seen the highs and the lows that await a youngster in the NBA, and he’ll help both players navigate their way.

The Cavaliers revived Knight’s season and maybe his career. It’ll be interesting to see how his second act plays out.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at Cavaliers Training Camp this Tuesday afternoon when "Rent's Due: Training Camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers" launches on Cavs.com.

Knight Player Preview

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A Look into Training Camp Coming Soon

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Cavaliers Training Camp this Tuesday afternoon when "Rent's Due: Training Camp with the Cleveland Cavaliers" launches on Cavs.com.
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