It has been well publicized that the 2011 NBA Draft is bad; historically bad like Dana Carvey’s movie Master of Disguise. And while Kentucky freshman point guard Brandon Knight had a great freshman season, it is hard to hard to believe that he is worthy of being the third overall pick by the Utah Jazz like many mock drafts are projecting.
By: David Kay
Knight played an integral part in helping Kentucky reach the Final Four this season. He led the team in scoring, assists, and three-pointers, but he is hardly a sure thing once he gets to the NBA. “I think I’ve proven myself on the court,” Knight said at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. “The most important thing for me is to just work hard and keep having good workouts.”
The Utah Jazz hold the third overall pick and most mock drafts, including The Sports Bank’s, project Knight being the pick since they need a back-up for Devin Harris as well as a capable scorer at guard. But there are certainly some questions regarding Knight’s transition to the NBA.
For starters, Knight turned the ball over at a high rate averaging 3.2 turnovers per game compared to just 4.2 assists. He exclusively played the point for the Wildcats but is far from a proven floor general and could actually play some two guard at the next level due to his ability to shoot the basketball. “I feel I can play both positions,” Knight told me. But he added, “I see myself as a point guard.”
Knight’s decision to turn pro was not surprising especially since Kentucky has highly touted point guard recruit Marquis Teague joining the fray next season. Teague’s addition likely would have pushed Knight to play more two guard next season which may have stunted Knight’s development some in becoming a true point guard.
“Once I made my decision, I didn’t want to waver on it,” Knight stated. “Once I made it, that was it. I love Kentucky and the fans there, and the coaching staff.”
Knight now becomes the next in line of John Calipari-coached point guards who will enter the league with high expectations; carrying the torch previously held by Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and last year’s top overall pick, John Wall. Following in the footsteps of that trio might be daunting to some, but not Knight. “I think that pressure is more so at Kentucky. What the Kentucky fans expected knowing who had come before me. Just people who have watched Coach Cal’s guards from before and what they expected. I think pressure was more so then than now.”
While it might sound like I am hating on Knight, that is not the case at all. I think he will be a solid pro given the time to improve his point guard skills especially in the half court. I just think there are better overall prospects available with third pick in this draft.
In fact, I have Kemba Walker ranked higher on my point guard rankings but since Knight was a more consistent outside shooter than Walker in college, it makes the former Wildcat point guard a better fit with the Jazz who need a point guard who can stroke it from distance since that is not Harris’ strength. I also think former Kentucky commit Enes Kanter is a better prospect than Knight but the Jazz need guard help more than they need size which is why they will likely pass on the Turkish big man.
Like current Jazz post player and last year’s third overall pick Derrick Favors, Knight will need time before he becomes an impact player in the NBA. When you are taken that high, even in a weak draft class, that is what will be expected of Knight.
CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.