Commentary

High hopes for Knight, Valanciunas

Both rookies have the potential to have very successful NBA careers

Originally Published: September 8, 2011
By David Thorpe | ESPN Insider
Brandon KnightAP Photo/Julio CortezBrandon Knight has all the tools to be a successful NBA point guard.

In our continuing look inside ESPN.com's player rankings, we're examining six rookies with potential for solid pro careers: Brandon Knight, Markieff Morris, Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker.

These six players have a lot in common: All were mid-to-late lottery picks who were either good-to-great college players or guys who showed huge promise in Europe. On ESPN.com's player rankings, Knight and Walker are tied at No. 267. Morris and Thompson are tied at No. 349 and Valanciunas and Vesely are tied at No. 313. As things stand, it seems that all six players are also in a fairly similar category -- guys who should be at least solid NBA contributors with substantial upside.

So among those ties, who's better? And which of these players will fulfill their considerable promise? In a couple of seasons, will they more closely resemble Jonny Flynn or Stephen Curry?

At the moment, I like both Knight and Valanciunas to emerge as the best of this group after a few NBA seasons are under their belts. Knight has all the tools I look for in an NBA point guard; he has size, agility, skills with the ball and a great-looking shot. He also has lots of poise, a huge basketball IQ and quite possibly one of the highest general IQs in the league.


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