Utah Jazz: Brandon Knight makes good impression in solo workout
SALT LAKE CITY — Brandon Knight missed the Jimmerpalooza-Kemba Walker Show by a day.
But he gave the Utah Jazz a solo performance Thursday morning, which left a favorable impression on the team with two lottery picks.
"He showed himself very well," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He did a really good job. I mean, it was one-on-zero, but (he was able) to show his talent level. ... His basketball IQ seemed to be high."
Though the Jazz would have preferred the Kentucky freshman to go up against Jimmer Fredette, Walker or other point guards, the franchise has a history of not letting similar decisions of going solo sway their ultimate drafting decision.
To wit, Utah went through that same scenario six years ago when it last picked a premier point guard this high in the draft.
"We didn't hold it against Deron (Williams) when he came in here (by himself)," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor reminded reporters, recalling how D-Will only did individual workouts prior to being picked third in the 2005 Draft.
"Would you like to see him compete? Sure, but that's their decision and we'll go from there."
Knight, who views himself as "a true point guard," has been projected to be plucked by the Jazz by multiple mock drafts, including by ESPN.com expert Chad Ford. And the 6-foot-3, 177-pounder, who earned 2010 Gatorade national player of the year honors out of Florida, believes he gave the Jazz more reason to take him with that No. 3 pick.
"I thought it went pretty good. I hit a lot of shots, did a lot of good things," Knight said. "I think I had a pretty good showing. I'm really confident in what I did."
Overall, Knight wanted to show the Jazz — and other teams he's worked out for (also solo) — that he is "taking it serious" and that he's willing to listen to instructions and pay attention to the devil in the details.
Specifically, Knight hoped to impress the Jazz with his shooting, his ability to play the pick-and-roll, his left-handed resourcefulness (he's right-handed), his knowledge of the game and his capability of changing speeds when necessary.
Knight also adamantly put to rest the rumor that he doesn't want to play for the Jazz.
"It seems like a great place ... it'd be a place that I would love to be there," he said. "I don't know where that rumor came from, but that's not true at all."
Furthermore, Knight said he would embrace the challenge of following in the footsteps of point guard greats John Stockton and Deron Williams. He had experience filling in big shoes at Kentucky where he replaced 2010 top pick John Wall.
"I got a pretty good vibe (here). Everywhere I've been has been pretty good," Knight added. "I definitely got a good connection with the team and the coaches (in Utah). I felt good being in this environment."
Knight said he has heeded the advice from his agent to steer clear from working out against other point guards, although he admitted that he'd still make an exception.
"The guy I'm trying to work out against is Kyrie Irving," he said.
Irving is the consensus No. 1 projected pick who seems Cleveland-bound and who has refused to work out or meet with other teams.
As for Knight, the 19-year-old insists he isn't cowering from competition. He's just listening to advice from his camp.
"The best thing to do they say is to just work out by myself. I'm a competitor. I don't mind working out against anybody," Knight said. "At Kentucky, you play against the best of the best all of the time.
"You don't go to Kentucky not to do that. You don't go to Kentucky to go behind John Wall, the No. 1 draft pick, if you're not a competitor and confident in what you do," he added. "So, I'm definitely confident in what I do. I'm just trying to be strategic and listen to what my camp says to do, just be smart about it."
It isn't an ideal situation for evaluation, O'Connor admitted, but the GM said Jazz brass could still assess things like work ethic and conditioning while also getting another interviewing opportunity with the organization's potential cornerstone playmaker.
Corbin also liked running Knight through certain drills to evaluate his ballhandling and spot-shooting skills. The coach liked how Knight arrived in Utah on Wednesday and worked out for two hours the night before his personal workout with the Jazz.
"His talent level and his smarts will certainly afford him an opportunity to be (a good NBA player)," Corbin said. "I think he'll put the work in to be good."
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