Now that the riff-raff has passed (Does he mean all the excessive media? Does he mean other guards like Malcolm Lee and Kemba Walker? Does he mean something else? We’ll never know!), today the Jazz get a one on one workout with none other than Kentucky’s Brandon Knight. Is it bad that he didn’t want to go head to head against a bunch of other PGs in the draft? Probably; however, at the same time this shows us something. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, you don’t take a Ferrari out to go off-roading with a bunch of SUVs, right? Sometimes the Jazz have drafted a guy they haven’t worked out, but only interviewed. Other times they have drafted a guy they didn’t even interview. Here we’re still getting a work out and interview. And it’s an interview for the starting job on our team. (Don’t twist my words to say that "Amar thinks Brandon Knight is an NBA starter right now," because that’s not what I said) But out of all the guards the Jazz have brought in so far, Knight is the only guy who projects to be a starter on a Playoff team.
Sure, he’s not a complete player now, and he’ll probably start his career on the bench if he’s on our squad – it happened to John Stockton and Deron Williams too, by the way. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the ability to be that ‘new’ point guard that this NBA seems to champion. I’m talking about a guy who probably would have played shooting guard in a previous era who spends more time working on his jumper than on getting his other guys set up. The Dallas Mavericks seemed to do pretty okay with guys like Jason Terry and Jose Juan Barea in similar roles where they are good enough to get their own shot, despite not looking for others first. If there’s anything we can learn from those World Champion Dallas Mavericks it’s that a smaller guard who can make his own shot isn’t something you should easily pass up on. And if you can get two guys great at it, you’d be a fool to pass them both up.
Stats and more after the break….
Chicago Camp Measurements
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Brandon Knight was one of the kids who was too cool for school and showed up to the Chicago predraft camp, got measured, took all the metric tests, but didn’t participate in the shooting drills. Other Top 3 picks did the same. I think it’s silly; however, I understand the ‘play it safe’ rationale. One bad shooting day (law of averages) can hurt them more than a great shooting day could help them at their projected draft position. That said, I think it is safe to say that Knight is a pretty good shooter. (In the next section we see that his career college three point percentage is 37.7% -- Jimmer’s is 39.4%. Food for thought.)
On the other end of the spectrum we see that he is, flat out, the fastest guy we’ve brought in. He’s beyond Marshon Brooks speed. (And we all know that I love that guy) He’s not too shabby on the Lane Agility drill either – clocking in faster than the "speedy" Kemba Walker. Knight isn’t packing the guns that Jimmer is, but he did have one less bench rep than potential NBA power forward Markieff Morris.
As for the long and short, he is one of the tallest guards we’ve had in (taller than D-Will who played some SG for us), and he has a pretty good wingspan as well. He has a great reach though, and his max reach is only 6" less than Enes Kanter – whom some believe could be a great NBA center. Again using Markieff Morris as the litmus test for a potential lottery big, Knight’s max reach is 2" less. It Is 5" more than Kemba Walker, and more than a half sub from subway greater than Jimmer’s max reach.
Knight is clearly a great athlete. He’s long. He’s fast. Essentially he’s Hornacek’s size with Ronnie Price’s athletic ability.
Obviously, these are cumulative college statistics. We all know that Das Jimmer averaged 28.9 ppg in his last year in college, but let’s not forget that he started off scoring only 7.0 ppg as a freshman. It averages out to a number somewhere in between. For a guy who plays a number of NCAA seasons you get more to see, but you also have a guy who is older and gets a lot more practices in and coaching in order to improve and better reach their potential. Not everyone gets that, because some of them are good enough to jump to the next level without spending so much time seasoning in college.
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The first thing that really stands out here is that Knight is a one-and-done College Player (look at the games column). A lot of the guys who would have been one-and-done stayed in College this year because their people told them to (lockout, cba, etc). Knight has the talent to be a one-and-done and he is going to the NBA. He’s confident, and his stats speak for themselves. Unlike a guy like Kemba Walker or Jimmer Fredette who only got better and better as their college careers went on, a freshman Knight has similar college cumulative statistics. Just so I’m not being misunderstood – guys like Kemba and Jimmer didn’t kick butt in their first few years in NCAA Division I ball. They had awesome final two years. Those years bumped up their averages to what they are today, in this chart. Knight’s numbers are in the same ballpark – but as a freshman. If he played 3 years in the NCAA his final stats would clearly be better. He’s super young, and super talented. This is what makes him a Ferrari. This is why his people wouldn’t deign for him to workout with other PGs that are perceived to be way below him. He just said that he’d work out against Kyrie Irving – the potential top pick of the draft. He’s not shying away from competition, but he’s elitist enough to know the difference between apples and oranges.
What troubles me is his FG%, but he’s a few months removed from having a homeroom class, he’s only going to improve in the NBA, especially when in his first practice he’s no longer almost immediately the best player on the floor anymore. What I love is his three point percentage as a college freshman. Our bench missed a lot when people started to get injured. Having a guy like Knight come off the bench (Terry like) would really help the floor spacing. He’s not gun shy either, so he may develop into the type of guy all championship teams can lean on. If he comes to the Jazz with Jimmer too, well, looks like we have our Terry and J.J. Barea all in the same draft. They can learn the sets with one another and help each other with the ball handling duties. Coming off of a Kyrylo Fesenko (potentially) screen and driving and seeing Jimmer and Mehmet Okur spotting up behind the three point line would do wonders for Brandon Knight’s transition to the NBA. And do wonders for our team against other NBA benches as well.
I think Knight can be a lead guard in the changing NBA. I’d like to see him develop more of a floor game where he gets his guys involved. The Jazz coaches will demand that he does. So will all the veteran scorers on the team – lest they stop calling out screens so the 177 pound rookie gets creamed on picks. He’s not perfect, but this isn’t a perfect draft. Unless some teams mess up the first two picks, or there are some crazy trades on the horizon, I don’t see a better guy on the draft board for the Jazz.
He may not be the white knight that our team needs, but he’ll be our dark knight, the Knight we deserve. A guy confident enough and talented enough to be a starting point guard in the post-John Stockton and post-Deron Williams eras.