photo via David Guralnick, The Detroit News
As mentioned earlier, the NBA preseason kicked-off with a matchup of the top two point guards of the most recent draft class — one of which we hold very close to our hearts. The Pistons faced the Cavs last night, giving Kyrie Irving and Kentucky’s own Brandon Knight a chance to show out. ESPN has been giving Irving the Tebow-treatment today just as they did when he was a freshman at Duke last year. Let’s examine how this meaningless preseason game went down.
The Cavaliers got the close win, 91-87, so we don’t have to worry a bout Dan Gilbert breaking out the comic sans just yet. As far as the PG rookies are concerned, the vast majority is saying Irving had the better showing.
Kyrie Irving logged 27 minutes and tossed up 14 shots, only hitting a mere 4. That’s a FG percentage of 28.5%. However, he did get to the charity stripe 15 times and was able to sink 13. That allowed him to drop 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assits, and 2 steals. Theoretically, that’s a great stat line for a rookie PG’s debut. Other than the poor shooting percentage, it was an impressive game.
On the other hand, Brandon Knight stepped into the game and nailed his first three point attempt. The hot streak didn’t happen, though, and he ended up shooting 33.3%, connecting on 3 of 9 shots, only slightly better than Kyrie. He only got to the line twice in his 22 minutes, stuck behind Ben Gordon and Will Bynum. His stat line ended up being 9 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal.
Despite having a less glowing stat line, Knight was garnering high praise from his coach and Piston pundits. Here’s a quote from Piston’s coach Lawrence Frank to attest to this:
“I thought he played with great energy when he was on the floor,” Frank said. “He made some nice plays on the pick-and-roll. I think everyone can see he’s going to be a very, very good player.”
“”The guy on the other side (Irving) is going to be good, too.”
Brandon had this to say:
“I was trying to make the right decisions, to get the calls right,” Knight said. “But it was fun to get out there, in a competitive game.”
Knight had the crowd on their feet twice with a couple great plays:
The first came as Knight fired an underhanded pass from halfcourt to Austin Daye for a layup attempt. Daye missed the shot, but was fouled on the attempt.
“I just saw him streaking open down the floor, and instead of picking it up, I thought that was the quickest way to get it to him before a defender could get there.” Knight said.
Later in the quarter, Knight stole an inbounds pass intended for Cavs rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, took the ball the length of the court, and did a spin move in the lane before laying it in. He was modest when asked about it after the game.
So what can we take from thing? Nothing. Other than what you already knew: both kids are very good and will be solid players in the league. Irving might have been out there gunning a little more than Knight and taking it hard to the rim, but Brandon really fit into the role of facilitating the offense and keeping the defense honest with his money three-ball. I’m excited to see how Knight progresses as a pro, along with our other Cats. Thank god the lockout is over. And, yes, this is a slow news day. My apologies.