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Pistons still need big man

June 28, 2011
By CRAIG REMSBURG - Senior Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

He wanted to select a big man in Thursday's NBA draft.

But after all the top frontcourt prospects were taken, Detroit Pistons president Joe Dumars was left with taking the best player available with the team's first pick and No. 8 selection overall.

Point guard Brandon Knight of Kentucky turned out to be that player.

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Knight averaged 17.3 points per game as a freshman last season at Kentucky, helping lead the Wildcats to the Final Four.

The 6-foot-3 Knight is only 19 and presents a gamble that he's not ready for the NBA. But Dumars is convinced he landed the best available player left in the draft when the Pistons were on the clock.

"He has one of those incredible work ethics you hear about - hours and hours and hours in the gym, totally dedicated - and what we feel is probably the most high-character guy in the draft," Dumars said.

Trouble is, the Pistons' biggest need in their drive to improve on a 30-52 record of last season was not at guard.

They already have veterans Rodney Stuckey (15.5 points per game), Richard (Rip) Hamilton (14.1), Ben Gordon (11.2), Will Bynum (7.9), Tracy McGrady (8.0) and Terrico White (did not play due to injury) listed at that position.

Stuckey is a restricted free agent and could leave the team; Hamilton sat out several games last season in a dispute with former coach John Kuester and may be traded; McGrady is 32; and White is untested.

With all that, perhaps Knight is not only a good pick to upgrade the position, but is an insurance policy should the position be depleted this coming season.

If there is an NBA season, of course, depending on labor talks.

But the Pistons need a big man. Greg Monroe proved to be a solid frontline rookie last season. But Ben Wallace is only 6-8 and will turn 37 in September, and both 6-11 Charlie Villanueva and 6-11 Austin Daye are primarily perimeter players.

The team was last in the NBA in rebounding, blocked shots and opponents' field goal percentage in 2010-11. The Pistons could use some help inside for defensive AND offensive purposes.

Dumars did the best he could in the draft. Knight was listed in a national publication as being the No. 3 pick overall in the draft.

That he slid to No. 8 and into the Pistons' lap may turn out to be fortunate for the team. Knight could - I repeat could - turn out to be a solid player for years to come, if not a star.

But Dumars - though he picked Duke forward Kyle Singler and forward Vernon Macklin of Florida in the second round - still needs to bolster the Pistons' frontcourt via a trade or free agent signing.

That may turn out to be difficult, but failure to do so could guarantee the Pistons missing the playoffs for the third straight season.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.



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