One of the standouts from Sunday's loss to the Charlotte Bobcats was the 22 turnover performance that the Pistons displayed in the 108-101 loss. As a whole, the Pistons didn't take care of the basketball well enough to win the game and Charlotte made the Pistons pay by scoring 26 points off of the 22 turnovers. Looking inside the team statistics, Brandon Knight had only a single assist in the game, but ended up leading the team with four turnovers. Knights turnover numbers have been an area of trouble for the Pistons this season, and as his assist totals aren't nearly high enough to compensate for his turnover casualties, Knight's ball control is still an obvious hurdle that needs to be cleared if the Pistons want to become a consistent threat on a nightly basis.
The season averages for Knight show a point guard that's averaging an assist and a half higher than the turnover average, 4.5 assists to 3.1 turnovers. Knight's 3.1 turnover average is the 11th highest in the league, coming in behind the likes of Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, and Jrue Holiday. All three players average over 3.5 turnovers per game, but make up for it with their assist totals. Rondo leads the league with 11.2 assists per game, Westbrook averages 8.5 per game, and Holiday averages 8.9 assists per game. All three players rank in the top ten for NBA assist leaders, while Knight floats between 41-43 depending on his nightly performance.
Breaking down the stats even further, over the last five games for the Pistons Brandon Knight has posted a one-for-one, assist to turnover average. Knight is averaging 2.8 assists and 2.8 turnovers, including two games against Milwaukee and Charlotte where Knight posted four turnovers. The Pistons were 4-1 over that five game stretch, but despite the team success Brandon Knight knows that he needs to get better if he wants to shake the "score only" stigma and become a full-on NBA point guard.
Brandon Knight spoke to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News about his approach to the point guard position, and the reasons for his turnover totals:
"I think the biggest thing is you always have the ball in your hands," Knight said. "You're trying to be aggressive. You'll make mistakes when constantly attacking the basket, trying to make plays, get guys shots."
Later in the interview Knight discussed his dislike for the idea of minimizing his turnovers by becoming a faceless player on the floor, losing his edge in exchange for playing "safer" basketball:
"I could very much so pass around the perimeter, shoot spot shots and not try to make plays," Knight said. "All those guys are aggressive when it comes to attacking the rim. You'll have some hiccups."
Knight is an aggressive guard, and no one is asking to stop that part of his game in exchange for a perimeter passing style that would more closely mirror the duties of an elementary school point guard. What is being asked of Knight is to find a balance between his slashing, attacking style, and the distributing nature of an NBA point guard.
The NBA's assist leaders aren't perimeter passers. The most efficient guards are the ones that use their scoring ability as a means to get their teammates shots. When Rajon Rondo drives the basketball, he's setting himself up later to drive and dish once the opposing defense converges on him. Russell Westbrook may be labeled as a shoot-first point guard, but as he attacks he is also looking for the one wide-open teammate that had his defender leave to play help defense.
While Brandon Knight may not have a lot in common with the top NBA guards when it comes to assist numbers, he does have the NBA quickness that the elite guards carry. But for Knight to start making his offensive attack work for him in the assist column, Knight's going to have to continue to find ways to make the game slow down as he still needs to see the floor better.
Not every point guard selected in the NBA Draft Lottery is a "ready made" product– those angry that Knight isn't better than rookie Damien Lillard should take note –but not every NBA Draft Lottery selection is as hardworking of a player as is Brandon Knight. While the jury still may be out on Knight's long term potential to be an NBA starting point guard, fans can be certain that the second year, 21 year old Brandon Knight wants to get better, and will do everything he can to be better.
Tags: Basketball, Brandon Knight, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, NBA, Rajon Rondo
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