Calipari Freshman Guards

I think most of us know what Coach Cal's all about these days, right? Find a tremendously talented, McD's All American lead guard, and give him the keys. In the past these guys have tended to go on to the NBA after one year, and they haven't taken long to look good as pros. (Also curiously, there may be something a tad systematic with Coach Cal in that analysts have often looked as these guys' numbers and have considered them...I don't want to say bad or underwhelming, merely "not elite," maybe.)

Anyway, this year's stud for Calipari was Brandon Knight. Knight, of course, went on to have a rather inconsistent season. His numbers overall are a little flat, and at times he really struggled. Other times he dominated. Perhaps his most apropos game was the tourney game where he didn't score at all until, you know, he took the ball at the end and drove in for the buzzer beater.

So I thought, given the Wolves have a need for a lead guard and the best one is likely off the board at #2, how does Knight compare to Calipari freshmen Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Tyreke Evans?

Brandon Knight
Team strength of schedule: 14th
Best teammate: Terrance Jones
Ortg: 107
Poss%: 27%
True Shooting%: 55.3
Off Reb %: 2.1
Def Reb %: 10.4
Assist rate: 23.4%
Turnover rate: 19.6%
Steal rate: 1.1%
Free throw rate: 33.3%
2-point%: .461
3-point%: .377

John Wall
Team SoS: 50th
Best teammate: Demarcus Cousins
Ortg: 108
Poss%: 27%
True Shooting%: 56.2
Off Reb %: 2.6
Def Reb %: 10.2
Assist rate: 34.8
Turnover rate: 24
Steal rate: 2.9
Free throw rate: 53
2-point%: .509
3-point%: .325

Tyreke Evans
Team SoS: 65th
Best teammate: Robert Dozier (?)
Ortg: 101
Poss%: 33.5%
True Shooting%: 52.9
Off Reb %: 5
Def Reb %: 15.3
Assist rate: 30
Turnover rate: 21.6%
Steal rate: 4.2%
Free throw rate: 38.4%
2-point%: .514
3-point%: .274

Derrick Rose
Team SoS: 64th
Best teammate: Chris Douglas-Roberts
Ortg: 112
Poss%: 27%
True Shooting%: 56
Off Reb %: 5
Def Reb %: 11.7
Assist rate: 30.4%
Turnover rate: 19.1%
Steal rate: 2.3%
Free throw rate: 47%
2-point%: .521
3-point%: .337


So, of these four, it's clear Knight has the most red flags. While he's about as efficient as the others at a similar usage rate, Knight got most out of the outside shot. A shot's not a bad thing to have, by any means, but generally you want your guard prospects to work inside-out, and Knight's 46% from 2-pt areas is a bit weak.  He also draws fouls at a lessor rate than the others. (By my untrained eye, what's maddening about Knight is he clearly has the handle and athleticism to drive if he wanted to; he just seems to opt for pull ups and floaters more often than not). Also, Knight's non-scoring numbers are the weakest of the bunch, another red flag.

What Knight has going for him is age (all the others were rather old freshmen; I think all 3 were 20 when they entered the league, whereas Knight's still 18 and one of the youngest players in the draft). Knights' Wildcats also faced the toughest competition of any of the above.

So, there it is. Knight might have more potential than, say, a Kemba Walker. And he's shown flashes of being willing to take over games. But the red flags are certainly there. If he returned to school, would he have become more intriguing? What is he in the NBA? Who knows?

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