There hasn’t been a recent UK player drafted into the NBA that I’ve wanted to succeed more than Brandon Knight. I just think he’s the best kind of ambassador for this program. Now, he’ll probably have to settle for second-place once Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hits the league, but until then he’s my top guy so I was happy to see that his coach, Lawrence Frank, was praising the rookie guard for his hustle this season. The worst part about Knight’s situation is that he’s in Detroit but there are some pieces there and you can’t count out the magic of the lottery just yet. At this point, every point guard on teams in the bottom half of the league are making Faustian bargains to have the opportunity to throw lobs to Anthony Davis next season. If that worked out for Knight, he’d have the distinct pleasure of individual praise as well as team success to look forward to in 2012-2013.
Knight finished eighth in voting for Rookie of the Year after starting 60 of 66 games and finishing with averages of 12.8 and 3.8 in points and assists, respectively. When Coach Frank was asked to give his opinion on Knight’s play, he only had positive things to say about the young guard:
“It was all through merit,” Frank said. “Brandon came in, his work ethic — I would say both he and Ben Wallace are consistently our two hardest workers. He just had a great aptitude and just soaked everything in. He just earned it.
“He didn’t start the first six games. We started Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon. Rodney got hurt, and really from that point on, Brandon had the keys. He learned through trial and error but continued with his work ethic and his preparation.”
Frank was asked whether he was he was happy with the team’s 21-21 finish after a 4-20 start, leading to a 25-41 record.
“You’re never happy, especially when other teams are playing and you’re not,” he said. “But considering the really tough start and just dealing with all the things everyone deals with — the lockout — and just to see the growth, you saw the potential. To go .500 after a 4-20 start, there’s definitely some positives with it. Yet at the same time, we’re not blind enough to know we have a lot of work to do.”
With the trust of his coach behind him, the sky is the limit for Knight. However, the team will need to see a real improvement in the next season or Frank might not be around long enough to see Knight into his best years.