When the Pistons drafted Brandon Knight, they understood completely what they were in for after his arrival.
They were getting a young player who undeniably recognized that being a pro-basketball player is a constant grind. He is already proving that he has the work ethic to make it in the league by being the last man standing on the court during dribbling drills while the media is aching to get a piece of him.
“You literally got to kick him out of the gym,” is what new Pistons’ head coach Lawrence Frank said about the rookie. Knight understands exactly what he needs to change about his game to reach his potential as an NBA playmaker and intends on sculpting every aspect that he has control over.
They were getting a natural-born leader. When Brandon Knight stepped into Kentucky’s backcourt, he immediately impacted in ways that Coach John Calipari seems to bring out of freshmen. After John Wall and Demarcus Cousins opted for the draft, there was a huge gap in Kentucky’s roster that was righteously filled by the young player with an innate ability to hit the big-time shot at the perfect moment.
Knight controls his environment and makes his teammates better as a result. His hunger motivates the players that surround him. This is exactly what the Detroit Pistons need.
Hunger. Drive. Grind.
So what he is a combo guard and the Pistons already have that in Rodney Stuckey? With Stuckey’s latest rejection of the proposed $45 million contract, Detroit may not have him much longer. Wising up would of course be in Stuckey’s greatest interest. But would it be best for Detroit?
By resigning Tayshaun Prince instead of allowing him to navigate through not-so-murky waters elsewhere in the league shows that the franchise is attempting to keep their most effective veterans stable. If they are looking for some sort of previously defined leadership, Prince is one of their best standing options. He is level-headed and a solid scorer. Both of these characteristics are what keep him so valuable to the organization.
So maybe Stuckey has a reason to breathe easy. If the Pistons are ultimately sold on his potential, then they will up the ante. But, it does not seem like a stone-wall is going to get Stuckey the huge payday that he is looking for, simply because the Pistons have another option.
Knight is not overhyped. He has the stamina, the conditioning and raw talent to take over and get some quality playing time as soon as the first game of the regular season. He already has gained the respect of his teammates and the ultimate on-court decision maker, Coach Frank. From the outside looking in, Stuckey is playing his cards all wrong especially in light of such an early and impressive showing from the rookie.
Overpaying for him would be a waste if we have already seen the best he has to offer and Joe Dumars needs to begin straying away from those kinds of high-risk, high reward mistakes if he plans on adequately rebuilding some type of powerhouse in Auburn Hills.
Stuckey is solid. It would be great if Detroit had him to lean on throughout the season as the Pistons develop Knight into what they need him to be. But, holding out any longer may introduce Knight to a deeper starting role and Stuckey to the door.
Unfortunately for him, the grass will not be greener on the other side.