I was hoping for two things coming into this game, that it would be close, and that I'd get to see how Brandon Knight had progressed from the start of the season. Well, I got one thing I wanted at least.
Knight was matched up against the man Bobcats owner Michael Jordan decided was a better prospect in Kemba Walker, and thoroughly outplayed him. He had 18+ points, coming on a number of transition dunks and catch and shoot jumpers, he was playing within his limits for the most part, transitioning pretty smoothly between guard positions with Rodney Stuckey in the combo guard backcourt Detroit fields. They took turns handling and creating, and it worked well against Charlotte. While Stuckey looked to be on the way out last season, he was re-signed for a reasonable price and has found a new lease with Knight in the backcourt. Back to Knight though, in addition to his efficient scoring he also had a few nice passes out of the pick and roll, including a slick wrap-around to Greg Monroe in the paint. While Knight has helped Stuckey, I'm not so sure if the reverse is true, as Knight shows sound decision making and in my opinion can definitely grow into a legitimate point guard.
Jerebko showed nice energy around the basket, and Maxiell had a hot shooting start. Gordon was quiet, but the game didn't really call for a guy who could create his own shot because Charlotte were so bad defensively. Monroe was the other reason to watch Detroit and he didn't disappoint, he made a number of nice hook shots, but more surprising were the dunks he threw down; like most basketball fans I was under the impression that Monroe was somewhat vertically challenged, but he can definitely get up when he needs to. Defensively, he wasn't spectacular and needs a prolific shot-blocker next to him at the PF position for Detroit to make a championship run in the future, but even if they miss out on Anthony Davis, John Henson would be a good fit as a stretch 4 who can fill the role of helpside shot-blocker.
Charlotte were tough to watch, they ran a lot of pick and roll with Biyombo and Augustin but D.J. seemed unwilling to feed Biz the ball, so it was largely ineffective. Biyombo showed decent footwork in the post, but he needs to spend a few hundred hours over the summer running the Mikan drill to improve his touch around the rim. Defensively he was getting schooled by Monroe, who was rewarding his physicality with spin-moves which left Biyombo frustrated. That said, he definitely has a future as a player in the NBA, and he is very young. He works hard, and it's hard not to like him, so I hope things work out for him. Watching Kemba and Knight was fascinating, the two rookies picked one after the other butting heads on several occasions, but Kemba had to work a lot harder for his buckets than Knight. Walker is being used as a spark plug off the bench, but I think he's more suited playing with the starting unit, as despite his scoring numbers in college, he isn't a prolific scorer who can thrive with the D focused on him. You can tell he's frustrated playing in Charlotte, but with the addition of a top-5 pick and a resolution to the Augustin situation coming this summer, Charlotte can definitely make steps. Henderson has cemented himself as a starting calibre shooting guard at the very least, he defends well, plays aggressively and moves well off the ball. He's never going to be a 1st (or 2nd) option on a playoff team, but he's a high character guy who can plug in with any team and be productive.
Not much else to say about this one, was over by the 3rd quarter, but I thought it was interesting that they showed a graphic before the game saying "You can make the days count, or count the days" which was attributed to Lawrence Frank, and it looks like Detroit took the message to heart.
I'll get another look at the Kings tomorrow against the Thunder, two very young, talented teams, the difference being that the Thunder are a contender and the Kings well, suck. Still, interesting matchups to look forward to, and the Kings have a tendency to play up to their competition, so it should be a close game.