Brandon Knight: The Evolution of a PG

I don't need to post the quotes. If you're on this site, you've read somewhere that the problem with Brandon Knight is that he's not a "true" point guard, but a scoring-first PG, or a SG trapped in a PGs body. (Admittedly, I think that saying is more of a cliche than anything, but I digress...)

It's one thing to look at Knight's end-of-season averages and make a judgment about what kind of a player he is, but I feel like that analysis doesn't tell the whole story. What it fails to show is Knight's progression throughout the season. 

I broke Knight's season into thirds. Then I took his averages for each third and compared it to his season averages. The idea is that if Knight was improving in an area, his average for the last 1/3 of the season would be higher than his average for the season (and vice versa). There are more complicated ways to do this, but for the sake of time, this is what you get. Here are the results: 

1/3          FGM     FGA     FG%     FTA     FT%     3pt Attempt     3pt%     Points     Reb     Ast     TO     Fouls

First         1.05     .99      1.05       .93       .94           1.03            .97         1.01      .89      .94    1.16    1.11 

Middle      1.03    .90       1.05      .90       .92            .95              1.12       1.01      1.08    .97     .95     .98  

End          .94      1.08     .85        1.25      1.1          1.00             .84         .99        1.03    1.21   .88     .92 

(I'd give anything to know how to post a table in here.) 

What the numbers mean: 

Each number is a ratio for that 1/3 of the season to the overall season average. I didn't invert the TO Fouls numbers, so a number less than 1 indicates a positive trend. For everything else, a number greater than 1 is what you want. 

A few observations:

The assist and turnover trends are pretty remarkable. These show that as the season progressed, Knight became a significantly better distributor, and did a much better job taking care of the ball. IMO, this progression shows Knight's evolution into a point guard. 

It's also significant, I think, that Knight cut down pretty significantly on his fouling. 

The troubling thing from this is that while Knight's scoring stayed remarkably consistent throughout the year, he took more shots, and his shooting percentages went down. On the other hand, though, Knight got to the line at a much higher rate, and converted more of his FT attempts. 

But I think the thing that sticks out the most to me is this: Brandon Knight didn't become less effective when his shooting got worse. In fact, you could argue that his team got better when he became more of a "pure PG" (i.e., as his assist:turnover ratio shot up), despite the fact that his shooting was declining. Even though Knight took more shots and shot a worse % in the final 1/3rd of his season, his team became more successful as he became a better PG. Over the last 1/3 of the season, Kentucky only had 2 losses. One was an OT game in Arkansas (lost by 1 point), and one was in the Final Four to eventual champion UConn (again, by only 1 point).



It's true that Kentucky also only had two losses in the first 1/3 of the season (UConn and UNC), but those losses were worse than the losses in the final 1/3, and their wins during the final 1/3 were much better than their wins during the first 1/3. This was when they were running through the SEC tournament and advancing to the Final Four. 

Despite the shooting regression, you have to be encouraged with Knight's evolution as a PG. He's certainly not going to be required to take the same scoring role with the Jazz that he did with UK, and perhaps better shots and spacing will get those shooting numbers back up to beginning-of-the-season averages. But in my opinion, the assist:turnover improvement shows that he can most definitely become a great PG in the NBA. 

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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