AUBURN HILLS (WWJ) – The Detroit Pistons had a chance to get their three draft picks in for a meet and great with local media.
WWJ Newsradio’s Rhonda Moss reports that Brandon Knight, who is among the new draft picks, not only threw out the first pitch at Comerica Park Friday night, but says he feels welcome and happy in Detroit.
“I’m definitely happy to be here in Detroit, it’s a great feeling to be picked by Detroit, it’s a great city, a great tradition, I think I react that way because I’m a serious guy, that’s always been my way, I’ll always be calm and collect … (Detroit has) a great tradition with three championships and I hope to add to that,” Knight said.
The Pistons chose Kentucky guard Brandon Knight with the eighth pick in the NBA draft Thursday night. Enes Kanter, Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo – considered some of the draft’s top frontcourt players – were gone by the time Detroit’s turn came around.
“We had targeted big guys initially. We said if those guys were gone, then we’re going to take the guy with the best value,” team president Joe Dumars said. “At the point of the eighth pick, the guy with the best value, the best talent on the board, was Brandon Knight. At that point, it was a talent that we didn’t think we could pass up.”
Knight averaged 17.3 points per game as a freshman last season for the Wildcats, helping them reach the Final Four. He joins a Detroit team trying to rebuild after missing the playoffs two straight seasons. The Pistons went 30-52 in 2010-11, and coach John Kuester was fired. The team hasn’t hired a replacement.
Dumars said before the draft he was hoping to add players who “fit the culture” the team is seeking. Veteran Richard Hamilton fell out of favor and was benched at one point last season, one of a handful of ordeals Kuester and his players went through as they struggled to coexist.
“We’re putting a premium on high character guys and these guys reflect that, what they are also going to reflect…when they get on the floor, you will not have to ever worry about how hard these guys are going to play,” said Dumars.
Dumars said Knight fits the bill.
The Pistons selected Florida’s Vernon Macklin in the second round of the NBA draft with the 52nd pick overall.
The 6-foot-10 Macklin averaged 11.6 points per game last season for the Gators. He began his college career at Georgetown, where he played two seasons before transferring to Florida to play two more.
The Pistons drafted 6-foot-8 Kyle Singler of Duke earlier in the second. The addition of Macklin gives them another big body inside along with Greg Monroe, the team’s first-round pick last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.