Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things to look for this season: Brevin Knight

Last season at this point in time I was cautiously optimistic about the Jason Hart signing. I was peeved that the Jazz chased away Dee Brown, and the primary reason seemed to be that the Jazz needed a veteran point guard to fill in the gap left by Derek Fisher's exodus from Utah to go to New York Los Angeles to be closer to where his daughter would continue to get treatment for her cancer. (btw, her specialist is still in New York, not LA guys)

I did not know much about Jason Hart, but he was a guy I picked up for my fantasy team a few seasons ago when he was money for 5 assists per game and at least 1 steal (late in the fantasy season you search out for guys who play on teams that have 4 games in a week that can help you win your head to head). Last season, though, my cautious optimism was quickly replaced with disgust as Hart would try to Will Smith is way through games, and never pass the ball. (He got a grand total of 86 assists last season for the Jazz, 1.5 per game -- and he's a point guard. Matt Harpring got 82 last season, and he isn't exactly known for his play making ability as a stone-handed forward.)

Alas, Hart is no longer on our team, as he was traded for Brevin Knight this off-season. I haven't been a huge Brevin Knight fan in the past because:

  • he is really small (5'10 height),
  • he can't stay healthy over a season (been in the league since 1997-1998, and has played in the following number of games each season:
    • 80 {rookie season}, 39, 65, 53, 53, 55, 56, 66, 69, 45 and 74 games last year
    • That averages out to 59.5 games played per season
  • and Brevin possesses a truly epic shooting range disability:
    • career 14.2 3pt %,
    • 0 for 6 last season,
    • has made only 16 in his 10 year career,
    • never made more than 3 in a season before
    • for a point of reference, Gordan Giricek only played in 22 games for us last season, and he made 12 in our uniform in 2007-2008 alone.
Clearly not a three point shot
  Photographed by Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE/Getty Images

That said, the point guard spot is much better with Knight at the wheel than with Hart. Trading away a 3rd string guy for a possible 2nd string guy who makes less money is hardly a bad thing -- so kudos to Kevin O'Connor for that move. Additionally, Knight is less likely to take shots that he's not going to make -- unlike Hart who used to believe that he could make every shot he took. (2007-2008 statistics: Hart 32.2 fg%, Knight 40.4 fg% . . . ugh, that's not much better though) Anyway, what three things should we, as fans, look out for this season from Brevin Knight?

  • Be a pure point guard: Brevin, due to a number of factors (size, inability to get easy shots for himself) has to be a pass first point guard. This suits Jerry Sloan fine as there are plenty of guys who can score on our team. He's a professional and he actually plays defense. Being a pure point is going to stabilize the 2nd (or 3rd) units as he is a 10 year vet, and the oldest guy on the team (at the ripe old age of 32). He's been playing against our offense for 10 seasons, and none of the plays have changed, so he comes into training camp with more experience than his competition (Ronnie Price -- who actually played here last season) does. Additionally, as fun as Price is to have on the floor, he's really an under sized 2, while Knight is an under sized 1. Price has better scoring ability, but Knight is a point guard's point guard. Which gives him the inside track to play the 8-10 mpg that Deron isn't going to in the playoffs.
  • More playing time at PG than Ronnie Price: That doesn't mean that Price isn't going to get playing time this season -- he may very well beat out Knight as the season goes on -- but over all Knight is going to get more playing time at the PG than Price will. This is partly because Jerry Sloan has been experimenting with having Knight and Price on the floor at the same time (with Brevin handling the ball), going for a very fast, tenacious back court that he's had to contest with in previous seasons with varying results (i.e. a Chris Paul, Jannero Pargo style line up). I really don't know how often we'll see that backcourt, but it would give the Jazz a different look than in previous years.
  • Don't expect 5+ apg and 1.5+ spg this season: Knight has career averages of 6.6 apg and 1.8 spg. Those are very nice numbers to have . . . though those numbers are predicated on playing over 20 minutes per game. Last season he had a relatively healthy season (he played in his 2nd most games in his career) and gave the LA Clippers 4.6 ppg, 4.4 apg 1.9 rpg, and 1.4 spg. He also played 22.6 mpg last season. There are only 48 minutes per game at the point. Deron Williams can be penciled in to play anything from 35-42 on a given night. The last two seasons Deron has played 36.9 and 37.3 mpg. I think with the dearth of point guards this season Jerry will attempt to regulate his star's minutes, and scale that back to around 36 mpg early on; though I wouldn't be surprised to see him average 38 for the season. That leaves about 10 minutes to divided between Knight and Price. This problem is a little easier as Knight isn't a lock to play in 80 games in any given season, but one of those two guys looks to pile up a lot of DNP-CDs this season. 10 minutes makes it very hard to really get a lot of stats. Knight is a good assists and steals guy -- but how stat-happy will he be in playing less than half of the minutes that he's averaged over his decade long career?

That may be something to look out for as the season goes on. He's not going to make a stink according to his off-season interviews around the time of his trade, so that's good. And when it comes down to it, I'm just happy that the Jazz got rid of Jason Hart . . . it's even better that we got Knight out of the deal. (even if he just plays 3rd string) This season is going to be special for Brevin, because it's his first on a contender, and that usually brings out the best from long suffering veterans. (He played for the late 90's cavs, the bobcats and the clippers among other teams in his career! That's harsh!)