Leading up to Draft Night on June 23, we’re going to profile the draft prospects that we feel are most likely to be on the Raptors’ radar for the fifth overall pick. Going alphabetically, Brandon Knight is next.
Weight: 180 lbs.
Date of birth: December 2, 1991
Likely NBA position: PG
With the first two picks of the June 23 draft widely assumed to be Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams, Brandon Knight is the odds-on favorite to go third overall. This means it’s unlikely he’ll still be on the board when the Raptors make their selection, but Ed Davis wasn’t supposed to still be available at the Raptors’ pick last year so they wisely worked out Knight last week.
Perhaps nobody will benefit more than Knight from the shallowness of this year’s draft pool. While he impressively led Kentucky to the Final Four as a Freshman, he shot just 33 percent from the field while averaging 3.4 turnovers per game during his tournament run. Knight certainly offers a lot to work with, but he’s far from a finished product — and yet that makes you a guaranteed top-five pick in this draft.
(Shout-out to loyal “Tim & Sid Uncut” listener Timsidizen for this excellent mix.)
What impresses you most about Knight?
Scott Carefoot: I really like his size, standing six-foot-three with a six-foot-seven wingspan. While he’s just 180 lbs., he was able to do 10 bench reps at the combine so he’s deceptively strong in spite of his wiry frame. Knight is quick, fearless and highly effective when driving the lane, but he can also pull up and bury the J with impressive freshman shooting numbers of 46 percent overall and 38 percent from three-point range. There’s no denying the rawness of several parts of his game, but his pure scoring ability is NBA-ready.
Holly MacKenzie: As someone who loves Kemba Walker, but laments the fact that he wasn’t given the gift of height, Brandon Knight’s size is awesome. And probably my favorite thing about him. He’s a legit six-foot-three, but has the long arms and quickness that will make him a more than capable defender. People rave about his athleticism, and anyone who tuned in to the tourney knows why. The guy can also score. Sure, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him to become an NBA point guard, but turnovers can be cut down. Hate to go all cliché on you, but you can’t teach size and Knight’s got it. He’s also young and to be this good this young? He’s got lots of room to grow. He’s got a great attitude, solid head on his shoulders and seems prepared to handle all of the work and pressure that will accompany him as he becomes a top-five pick.
Joseph Casciaro: His explosiveness/quickness and his scoring ability for a point guard. What makes these qualities so impressive is that Knight won’t turn 20 until December. Some people say that Knight’s youth is a weakness because he isn’t quite NBA-ready and might be a “project” player, but I feel like a point guard with his abilities at 19-years-old could be a can’t-miss prospect. Add to that the fact that Knight stands at a very respectable 6’3″, and now you can envision a point guard of the future who can create matchup problems with his size and speed.
What are your biggest concerns about Knight’s NBA prospects?
Scott Carefoot: His assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.2-t0-3.2 should be a dead giveaway that’s he’s not your classic “pure point guard”. And while his size, reach and quickness indicate he has the potential to be a strong defender, the fact that he only averaged 0.7 steals per game over 35.9 minutes is concerning.
Holly MacKenzie: Of course, the biggest concerns with Knight are his turnovers and play-making abilities. He’s not a “true” point guard (and Lord knows I hate that term because the point guard position has been steadily changing for awhile now), but he’s also 19 years old. His biggest weaknesses are both things that can be cured over time with hard work and good coaching. I also wish Knight had worked out against Walker, but can’t blame his agent for not wanting to take that chance. While other people point to his ability to score (or score first) as a detriment, I couldn’t be less worried about that. Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, etc, etc, etc, all come to mind when I think of score-first point guards who are A-OK with me.
Joseph Casciaro: My biggest concern would be the fact that Knight looks like a score-first point guard. I like point guards who can score the ball with the best of them, but whose main priority is to get their teammates going first. I’d like to see Knight develop into the type of point guard who makes his teammates better, keeps the opposing team’s defense honest with his own offense, and then takes a game over later on in the game, if need be. I don’t know if he will become that type of player, or if his score-first mentality will be a detriment to his teammates.
How good of a fit do you think Knight would be on the Raptors?
Scott Carefoot: Much like with Ed Davis in last year’s draft, if Brandon Knight is available at the Raptors’ pick, you say, “Holy crap! Snap him up!” and worry about “fit” later. He appears to have the most upside of any of the NCAA players besides Irving and Williams, and he expressed his fondness for Toronto after last week’s workout, saying “It’s a great place. I wouldn’t mind being here.” Needless to say, I would be very surprised if he was up for grabs and Bryan Colangelo passed him over.
Holly MacKenzie: If Brandon Knight does not go top five in the 2011 NBA Draft, there will be a lot of shocked people, including the three of us here. While he’s likely to be picked up by Utah with the third pick, if he does fall to fifth, the Raptors would be thrilled. They need a point guard, and he’s thought to be the best point guard in the draft outside of Kyrie Irving. Personally, I wish he had shown a little more of his personality when he was in Toronto for his workout, but again, he’s 19. If he’s available, the team’s taking him. I think it’s safe to say book it.
Joseph Casciaro: Outside of Kyrie Irving, you could argue that Knight is the next-best fit for the Raptors in this draft class. All we have been hearing about over the last couple of years is how the NBA is becoming a guard-oriented league dominated by quick point guards (think Paul, Rose, Rondo, Westbrook). Now I’m not suggesting that Brandon Knight will be mentioned in the same breath as those four guys, but I am suggesting that when you consider the Raptors’ dire need for one of these young, quick guards, then Knight would have to be the obvious choice if he is still on the board when the Raptors are on the clock. Not to mention, with his quickness and size, Knight has the physical abilities to develop into a solid defender at the point guard position too.