With the Pistons acquiring a proven, pure point guard in Jose Calderon this week, it’s easy to draw a conclusion that the performance Friday (20 points and 10 assists with just one turnover) of their incumbent point guard, Brandon Knight, may have been a message that he is not ready to relinquish the position just yet.
That very well could be the case, but let’s not forget that Knight has had some of his best games as a pro when matched up with Kyrie Irving, a rival point guard from his high school class, his lone season of college basketball and his draft class. In fact, Knight plays far better against Cleveland than any team in the league. He averaged 23 points per game on 60 percent shooting with 5.2 assists and just 2.2 turnovers per game in six career games against the Cavs coming into tonight.
It’s hard to say if his outstanding game tonight was a response to sudden competition for his position or him heightening his game to play against a rival player he’s always done pretty well against. Either way, it was welcome and hopefully something that Knight can build on.
* Note – I also am giving Calderon an A tonight just for that shot of him taking notes in a legal pad on the sidelines. He’s already among my favorite players for that. Do the Pistons coaches even take notes during the game? I have a great feeling about how much he’s going to help this team improve.
|Jason Maxiell, PF 23 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +16Maxiell played OK, although he wasn’t particularly good against Tristan Thompson.|
|Greg Monroe, C 36 MIN | 7-16 FG | 4-8 FT | 16 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +21Monroe didn’t shoot the ball all that well most of the game, but he was a monster on the glass and he only turned it over once. Monroe also made some great, precision passes all game long.|
|Rodney Stuckey, PG 35 MIN | 5-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +20Stuckey only attempted one 3-pointer and, predictably, he shot very well as a result of that. It’s not a difficult concept with him. When his shot selection is better and he passes up those 3-point looks, he’s a much better player.|
|Brandon Knight, PG 32 MIN | 7-14 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +30Knight’s stat line is even more impressive when you consider he did it in just 32 minutes. It was a great game, but I’m done getting excited about one good performance here and there from Knight. His challenge is consistency, and until he can find it, he’ll continue to be a below average starting guard. Tonight gave a great glimpse as to why people are so high on his talent though.|
|Kyle Singler, SG 37 MIN | 9-17 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | +17Singler looks to be settling into that small forward spot quite nicely. Not only did he rebound and defend well tonight, he also showed a quicker than expected first step, frequently beating his man off the dribble.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 6 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1Jerebko’s opportunity to earn his way back into the rotation isn’t going well. He rushed shots, didn’t look comfortable and didn’t make the customary hustle plays that have made him so valuable his previous seasons in Detroit. He just doesn’t look like the same player he was last year or as a rookie.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 18 MIN | 3-5 FG | 3-8 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +4The Pistons blocked 11 shots tonight, and Andre Drummond only had one of them. Your new rim protecting presence, ladies and gentleman, is Charlie Villanueva. He and Drummond are the next Sampson-Olajuwon.|
|Khris Middleton, SF 1 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2Middleton made the most of his one minute of action, making a shot. Hard to do much positive or negative in one minute, so he gets a C.|
|Andre Drummond, C 18 MIN | 4-4 FG | 1-5 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -9Drummond was quiet (by his standards at least) tonight, but with the performance of Detroit’s starters, they didn’t need a monster game out of him. He dunked, he blocked, he rebounded, so basically, what we’ve come to expect from him every time he touches the court.|
|Viacheslav Kravtsov, C 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +4Hey, he made two free throws! That’s a decent accomplishment for a guy who would be the worst free throw shooter on the team if not for Drummond.|
|Will Bynum, PG 16 MIN | 4-5 FG | 3-6 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -9Speaking of players who might be leery of Mr. Calderon’s presence … Bynum was fantastic off the bench. Detroit’s point guards combined for 16 assists and three turnovers tonight. Amazingly, after years of needing point guards who are careful with the ball and look to set up others, all it took was bringing one to town who actually tries to do those things to get the team’s incumbent point guards to play that way.|
|Kim English, SG 16 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -5English played OK defense and I respect that he helped on the glass even though his shot wasn’t falling, but he’s yet to do much in his couple of games auditioning in extended minutes.|
|Lawrence FrankI can give a pass for not playing Drummond as much tonight considering the Pistons had a comfortable lead most of the way and there were a lot of other players playing well. The Pistons bounced back from two consecutive poor efforts, played good defense, played great offense and got a home win over a bad team that they absolutely had to get.|
Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Knight Charlie Villanueva Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell Jonas Jerebko Jose Calderon Khris Middleton Kim English Kyle Singler Lawrence Frank Rodney Stuckey Vyacheslav Kravtsov Will Bynum