Even though the hype of the Pistons trading for Brandon Jennings has died down, the critics are still questioning giving up on the young prospect that was Brandon Knight. At only 21 years of age, many fans wanted to see Knight grow with the young core of guys drafted by Detroit in Monroe and Drummond, but the Pistons brass had something else in mind.
After signing marquee free agent Josh Smith and signing highly respected veteran guard Chauncey Billups, Joe Dumars felt the team needed a more accomplished point guard to run the team back into the playoffs.
With 5 years of experience at the point guard spot (1 in Italy, 4 in Milwaukee), Jennings has more experience on how to run the point guard spot rather than Knight. In Knight’s defense, he was not given the proper opportunity to succeed as a point guard, or develop into a playmaker. He started at point guard for the majority of his rookie campaign which saw him average 12 points, 3 assists, and almost 3 turnovers.
Knight also never had the veteran leadership, or a mentor at the point guard spot to help him improve at the position. For about 30 games last season he had Jose Calderon, but at the time, Brandon was shifted to the shooting guard position for the remainder of the season. Knight played well as a shooting guard, but was not the player that Dumars envisioned he would become in Detroit. He never really has had a mentor at the point guard spot, but now he has that leadership with Milwaukee. Under guard Luke Ridnour, Knight can hopefully make the jump from shooting guard back to point guard for the Bucks.
As the relationship between the Bucks and Jennings soured, GM John Hammond had to find a solution to the matter, and found that in Knight. Brandon will have another shot to show the Bucks, as well as the rest of the NBA, that he does have what it takes to be a lead guard in this league.
As for the Pistons, the idea of adding a guard that can not only score, but distribute as well, was too enticing in the end for Dumars to pass up. As a Buck, Jennings averaged 17.5 points, 6.5 assists, and just over 2 turnovers a game. The part that stands out the most about Jennings stat line in 2013, was the high assist total for a guy playing on a subpar team. He also had to share the ball handling duties with guard Monta Ellis, decreasing the opportunity of setting up his teammates. With an improved roster situation in Detroit, Jennings could thrive as a playmaker with the Pistons, if he decides to make the switch.
Another reason why Jennings is a better fit is his ability to play the pick and roll with their three big men on the front line. Most of Brandon’s shot attempts came off the dribble, making the defense address his shot, thus clearing a passing lane for the big man rolling to the basket. Brandon’s ability to run the P/R, and his ability as well as tendency of stretching the defense with his shot off the P/R is what interested Detroit in possibly acquiring him.
While Jennings is a player that thrives off running the P/R, Knight is not one too familiar at running it. At Kentucky, coach John Calipari never really implemented the play in his system, leaving Knight a step behind coming into the NBA. Knight is capable of running the P/R, but is not one to really shoot off the dribble, making the defense focus on the big man rolling to the basket. He also is more of a spot up shooter from behind the arc. Does not take to many shots after creating it himself, thrives off of dribble hand-offs and players setting him up from the perimeter.
It is no knock on Knight that he is not as experienced playing the point guard spot, or running the P/R, or scoring off the dribble. He very well could learn and excel at that over his long career in the NBA. With Ridnour in Milwaukee, it is a great situation for Knight as a Buck, to learn the spot.
The Pistons are in “win-now” mode, and with that said, they needed a guard that will help complement the lane-clogging frontcourt of Greg Monroe, Josh Smith, and Andre Drummond. With his skill of running the position and shooting off the dribble, Jennings is a better fit for the Pistons with the situation they are in right now. And at the young age of 23 (24 to start the season), Jennings can still drastically improve, and change his game for the better of the team.