Though it happened against the lowly Orlando Magic, credit Brandon Knight for finally looking like the player Detroit Pistons’ organization needs him to be Sunday night.
After scoring a career high 31 points and nailing five three pointers in the process, Knight’s talent had never been more clear. This is what the Pistons drafted him to do, and who they need him to consistently be. Finally, Detroit looked to have some star power on the basketball court.
Knight was tough all night, scorching the nets on 12-16 shooting in 37 minutes. He was consistent, aggressive and dominant. At times, he’s been guilty of looking closer to a bust than Kyrie Irving. Finally, however, he completely took over a game and provided some statistical balance to Detroit’s roster.
For a minute, never mind the competition. How long had it been since the Pistons enjoyed such an explosion out of their backcourt? Perception wise, it had begun to feel like the days of Chauncy Billups and Flip Saunders’ high-flying attack in 2006. Allen Iverson was old and overrated. Rodney Stuckey rarely lives up to his hype (odd, but Knight had his best game without Stuckey anywhere near the court), and any number of fill in’s like Will Bynum can never be counted on for big, starring role type performances.
Clearly, given he now has one big game under his belt, Knight should have enough confidence to make 31 point or more outbursts a routine occurrence. If he’s able to, think of how good the Pistons might become as a team. Suddenly, Greg Monroe’s consistent double doubles would loom larger, as would the sporadic contributions of Kyle Singler, Andre Drummond and Bynum. Finally, there would be much more balance. If anything, it would be a good start towards clawing out of the basement.
A star is badly needed in Auburn Hills, and has been for some time. Without one, the Pistons might never take the next critical steps towards rebuilding and reclaiming some past glory. In the new world of conglomorate NBA superpowers, no team will ever be able to survive and thrive like the 2004 squad, or perhaps even the “Bad Boys” did for years. The next quickest way to respectability? Find a star and surround them with a handful of capable players.
Forgive the comparison, but the Chicago Bulls, led by Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, might be the best example of such a team. Rose, when healthy, is a bonafied star, and the player able to do the consistent scoring. Noah pulls down rebounds and contributes a solid offensive and defensive game. Meanwhile, solid contributions are routinely felt from Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson.
The Pistons already have a few solid options in place to make this same type of roster eventually happen. The missing element in Detroit has long been one star performer capable of going off like Knight did Sunday night. To justify his selection near the top of the draft, Knight needs to make 31 point performances more commonplace, and not something to celebrate with hope.
For one night, anyway, the Pistons looked like they had finally found their answer to basketball’s age old, constantly annoying “who’s your star” question.
Hopefully for the franchise and fans alike, Knight can consistently remain that response.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax