The Detroit Lions have re-emerged from the dust in a finer more aggressive fashion than anyone is used to. With players like DT Ndamukong Suh and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch leading the charge, the culture within the franchise and the pride pouring into the team has shape-shifted.
There is a 6-3 team sitting in front of us and no matter how dysfunctional the squad may have seemed against division rivals, the Chicago Bears, they are still in a fine place to contend for the postseason barring some awkward second half collapse that many people outside of Detroit, Michigan are banking on.
The Tigers and the Red Wings have been talks of the town for far longer and now that the Lions are catching up in the discussion there is still a franchise to contemplate.
The Detroit Pistons were once the pride of Detroit. Not just dating all the way back to the “Bad Boys” era with Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Joe Dumars. We saw spurts of life when players like Chauncey Billups, Richard ‘Rip’ Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace were crowding the floor with greatness.
This group of men brought the meaning of team basketball back to the city that has yet to be re-instilled within the most recent class of players. Austin Daye, Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva give off a sense that there are bigger and better things to come forth, but there is a still a missing link that has yet to be exposed to the public.
We have every reason to believe that Brandon Knight is the second installment of what has yet to come. He shot onto the scene in Kentucky alongside DeAndre Liggins, Terrence Jones and Josh Harrelson as “that guy” and led his squad to a Final Four berth after the team had just lost both John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins the season before to the NBA draft. Knight was that clutch shooter that no matter how far behind Kentucky had fallen there was always a chance if the ball was in his hands.
He was the difference in the game against Ohio State and remained the game changer against Harrison Barnes and the UNC Tar Heels when he was needed the most. Now, as his responsibilities are delegated across a larger stage, Detroit fans will expect the same impact, if not greater from the rookie when he is actually able to debut for the city in a Pistons’ jersey.
How he comes in to shift the identity of the franchise will be more important than anything. No one expects him to step on the court fouling out in honor of signaling a big change in the organization. However, the intensity in which he plays the game is what everyone will be watching.
There is no doubt that the Pistons showed signs that they could play hard in the face of a more media and postseason worthy opponent. But, they are missing the consistency of that impact player that Knight will hopefully grace them with. He attacks the offense with such finesse and strength and that it is ever-so-rare when his efforts go unrewarded.
We will have to sit back and wait with the rest of the world to see how influential Brandon Knight will be and if the Pistons used their first pick of the first round wisely. My thoughts are that it was a moment well spent.