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2019-20 Preseason Profile: Brandon Knight

After Bounce-Back Season, Knight Looks Ahead
by Joe Gabriele 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.

Cavs Recite MLK's Famous Glenville High School Speech

The Cavs remember Martin Luther King's famous speech from Glenville High School in 1967 by reciting the moving words of the late activist.

Knight Player Preview

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Cavs Recite MLK's Famous Glenville High School Speech

The Cavs remember Martin Luther King's famous speech from Glenville High School in 1967 by reciting the moving words of the late activist.
Jan 20, 2020  |  01:18

GAME RECAP: Clippers 128, Cavaliers 103

Kawhi Leonard scores 43 points with four assists, three rebounds and a block to lead LA over Cleveland, 128-103.
Jan 15, 2020  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Lakers 128, Cavaliers 99

LeBron James scores 31 points as the Lakers get the win over the Cavaliers, 128-99.
Jan 13, 2020  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 111, Nuggets 103

Collin Sexton scores 25 points and grabs 3 rebounds as the Cavaliers beat the Nuggets 111-103
Jan 11, 2020  |  00:02

Knight Cleans Up Before the Third Quarter Ends

Brandon Knight is able to corral the ball and lay it in before the buzzer sounds at the end of the third.
Jan 11, 2020  |  00:08

Knight Hits Floater to Give CLE the Lead

Brandon Knight hits a tough floater in the paint to give the Cavs the lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Jan 9, 2020  |  00:07

Garland Cuts, Knight Assists

Darius Garland and Brandon Knight play the old give-and-go game with each other, as Knight passes to a wide open Garland who scores an easy lay-up.
Jan 9, 2020  |  00:09

Wine & Gold Go 'Round the World

The Cavs show off their impressive passing abilities before Brandon Knight seals the play with a deep ball.
Jan 7, 2020  |  00:20

Brandon Knight Weaves In and Out of Traffic

Brandon Knight makes some nifty moves en route to the first-quarter score.
Jan 7, 2020  |  00:10

GAME RECAP: Pistons 115, Cavaliers 113

Detroit edges Cleveland 115-113 as Andre Drummond racks up 23 points and 20 rebounds.
Jan 7, 2020  |  00:01

Featured Highlight: Zizic's Sweet Spin

Ante Zizic catches a quick pass from Brandon Knight, shows off a spin move inside, and finishes with ease in the fourth quarter.
Jan 5, 2020  |  00:15

60-Second Recap: Cavaliers vs. Hawks

Cleveland holds off Atlanta for their third-straight win on Monday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Dec 23, 2019  |  00:01

Brandon Knight with the Spot-Up Three

Brandon Knight shows off his range with a long trey in the second quarter vs. the Hawks.
Dec 23, 2019  |  00:07

60-Second Recap: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Wine & Gold fall to the Bucks on Saturday night in Milwaukee.
Dec 14, 2019  |  00:01

60-Second Recap: San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Wine & Gold rally past the San Antonio Spurs in overtime on Thursday night.
Dec 12, 2019  |  00:01

Cavs Players Provide Company for Patients

As part of the annual Cavaliers Season of Giving, the full squad made the yearly holiday visit to Cleveland Clinic Children’s visiting the young patients and their families.
Dec 9, 2019  |  04:02

GAME RECAP: Sixers 141, Cavaliers 94

Ben Simmons dominates for 34 points and 7 assists as the Sixers beat the Cavaliers 141-94.
Dec 6, 2019  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Pistons 127, Cavaliers 94

Blake Griffin scores 24 points with five other Pistons scoring in double figures as they beat the Cavaliers 127-94.
Dec 3, 2019  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Nets 108, Cavaliers 106

Jarrett Allen scores 22 points and grabs 21 rebounds as the Nets beat the Cavaliers 108-106.
Nov 25, 2019  |  00:01

It's Whammer Time in the Cavs New Intro Vid!

Peep the new Cavs intro vid "MC Whammer" that debuted ahead of Saturday's Cavs-Blazers game.
Nov 23, 2019  |  01:15

GAME RECAP: Mavericks 143, Cavaliers 101

Luka Doncic scores 30 points and grabs 7 rebounds as the Mavericks beat the Cavaliers 143-101.
Nov 22, 2019  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 110, Blazers 104

Jordan Clarkson scores 28 points and grabs three rebounds as the Cavaliers beat the Blazers, 110-104.
Nov 22, 2019  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Heat 124, Cavaliers 100

Duncan Robinson scores 29 points and grabs 2 rebounds as the Heat beat the Cavaliers 124-100.
Nov 20, 2019  |  00:00

GAME RECAP: Knicks 123, Cavaliers 105

The Knicks win at home behind 30 points and seven rebounds from Julius Randle, 123-105.
Nov 18, 2019  |  00:01

GAME RECAP: Cavaliers 113, Wizards 100

Tristan Thompson scores 21 points as the Cavaliers get the win over the Wizards 113-100.
Nov 8, 2019  |  00:01

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