SIOUX FALLS, SD – After four games, the Sioux Falls Skyforce find themselves at 1-3, celebrating their first victory of the season on November 13 against the Grand Rapids Gold. They are in the midst of a two week break to improve and figure out who they are as a team.
“It’s crazy to say, but I’m thankful for the first three games,” NBA veteran Brandon Knight said. “Being able to see that you can’t win doing what you did before. It allows us to see what it takes to win. There is a lot of learning left to do.”
Knight is not a new face in the NBA world, he has been around for nearly a decade. He was drafted eighth overall in the 2011 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. Since then, he has found himself in Milwaukee, Phoenix, Houston, Cleveland and now Sioux Falls.
Knight’s journey has at times been a struggle. He suffered a significant knee injury that took away his 2017-18 season and has had to fight tooth and nail to prove he is still capable of being a player in the league.
“It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been rewarding,” Knight said. “It’s been transformational. The person I am today, versus the person I was when I got hurt, those are two completely different people. I’ve grown, my perspective has broadened. I’ve become a much more rounded individual.”
The last couple of years, Knight has counted his blessings and embraced his transformation and the grind that is still ahead of him.
This season, he has embraced another responsibility: being a leader of a young team.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) November 3, 2021
The Skyforce’s 12-man roster has an average age of 24, with seven guys being 23 or younger. Knight, who will turn 30 on December 2, is the oldest on the team by four years.
“It feels weird, because I remember being in their position,” Knight said. “It feels like yesterday I was just drafted. I don’t feel far removed from them. They may feel a little different, but I still feel like I’m a young kid.”
Some older players in the NBA G-League are laser focused on getting their next NBA shot because they are not sure how much more time they will have left to pursue it. Knight on the other hand, is all in on being a leader and a role model for his younger teammates, something you don’t necessarily see from a nine-year NBA veteran.
“Whether you call it leadership or not, I always try to give as much of myself to the team as possible,” Knight said. “At the end of the day, it’s not about me. It’s about Sioux Falls, it’s about the HEAT, it’s about the game of basketball. It’s a lot bigger than me. So understanding that, I give the guys as much information as I possibly can.”
While it seems like it is the obvious choice for Knight to lead this team, being not only the oldest, but having the most NBA experience under his belt, Knight had to earn the respect of his teammates early on.
“I always feel like leadership is earned, not given,” Knight said. “Being in a certain position doesn’t give you leadership authority. Whether it be giving effort, knowledge, wisdom, or little gems I’ve learned along the way, I’m really pouring into the guys. The biggest thing I’ve learned about being a veteran is passing on what was passed to you – giving freely what was freely given to you.”
Knight’s unselfish attitude is noticed by everyone, from his teammates to the front office. After practices, guys are eager to work with him to improve aspects of their game. Even head coach Kasib Powell can not say enough about his leadership qualities.
“We go as he goes,” Powell said. “He’s our leader on the team, on or off the floor. Whenever we get into a game where it’s a close game, in fourth quarters, or any kind of clutch situation, we want the ball in his hands. We trust that he will make the right decision every time.”
Through four games, Knight is all but silencing critics and putting the G League on notice. He is averaging 18.5 points on 42.2-percent shooting, 6.5 assists and five rebounds in 36.7 minutes per game. Powell believes the small sample size is just the beginning of great things to come for Knight.
“He’s an NBA player,” Powell said. “There is no doubt about that. Just staying healthy and showing the scouts and NBA executives that he can still play at a high level. I think that’s what he’s been doing.”
“I just got to be me,” Knight said. “I think the course for me, the biggest thing for me, is just being healthy. I just need to be myself. As far as basketball goes, that will take care of itself. I don’t think anyone doubts my ability. I don’t doubt my ability. I just got to be me, the rest will take care of itself.”
Knight’s journey is different than most and has had a few unforeseen detours along the way. Through the twists and turns, Knight finds himself exactly where he dreamed of being: with the Miami HEAT.
“It’s a blessing, man,” Knight said. “I’ve been saying that Miami HEAT basketball has raised me, that’s what I grew up watching. That’s who I dreamed of playing with. The fact that it’s working out this way, even here in Sioux Falls, it’s a blessing to be an extension of the Miami HEAT.”
Knight looks to continue to lead the Skyforce, as the team hosts the Cleveland Charge in back-to-back games on November 27 and 28 at the Sanford Pentagon.