AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons chose Kentucky guard Brandon Knight with the eighth pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Knight averaged 17.3 points per game as a freshman last season for the Wildcats. 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.
Detroit does have a new owner. Tom Gores completed a deal to purchase the team from Karen Davidson less than a month ago.
With frontcourt prospects Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas and Bismack Biyombo all taken, the Pistons went with Knight, who helped the Wildcats reach the Final Four.
Detroit has been looking forward to an opportunity to add personnel after Davidson's drawn-out sale tied management's hands to a degree last season. The Pistons landed 6-foot-11 Greg Monroe with the No. 7 pick last year, and he ended up being one of the league's top rookies.
Team president Joe 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.
The Pistons picked Knight ahead of fellow backcourt prospect Kemba Walker of Connecticut. At 6-foot-3, Knight is two inches taller than Walker, and Detroit could pair him with 6-foot-5 Rodney Stuckey, giving the Pistons two guards who can score and handle the ball.
Detroit's draft record has been mixed over the years. The Pistons infamously picked Darko Milicic at No. 2 overall in 2003 — one spot ahead of Carmelo Anthony — but they've landed some solid contributors in later spots. Detroit drafted Stuckey at No. 15 in 2007 and Jonas Jerebko in the second round two years later.
The Pistons still have holes to fill, though. Hamilton is still on the roster, but Tayshaun Prince is a free agent and may not return. Ben Wallace says he's leaning toward coming back, but he turns 37 in September and played only 54 games last year.
If the team is committed to Knight and Stuckey as its future backcourt, that could leave Hamilton and Ben Gordon in unclear roles. Detroit's roster also includes perimeter-oriented forwards Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva.