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Power Ranking: Top 15 NBA Cardinal Careers, #5

An oft-traveled classic little guy

Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Ranking the top 5 was actually the easiest part of this. It's when this writer started sorting out the rest of the guys that the waters got a little a choppy. That being said.. I fully expect some blowback on the order of my #1 and #2 picks.

5. Brevin Knight, 5'10" PG, 173 lbs. (1997-2009). Stats: 7.3 ppg, 6.1 apg, 2.4 rpg, 1.7 spg, 41.2% fg%, 78.9% ft%, 14.9 PER, 0.086 WS/48, 3.28 assist-to-turnover ratio, 24.9 mpg - Brevin Knight was the real deal: a 12-year NBA mainstay who logged time with 10 teams -- which is no small feat as an undersized backup point guard (to wit: look how tough it's been for 30 year-old Nate Robinson to stick with a team this past season). But Knight had attributes beyond the vertical: he was fast, he was a good defender (especially considering that he was, you know, Jameer Nelson-size), and a really good passer (his 6.1 assists over 24.9 minutes translates to 8.9 dimes per 36 minutes). He was also a horrible shooter. In fact, he ranks 8th all-time among on a rather telling list: NBA players with the most games played tallying 10 or more assists and fewer than 10 points. Knight was so known for his passing/non-shooting style that SB Nation's own Tom Ziller named that list after him.

Knight had two seasons where he averaged more assists than he did points, and boasted a great assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.28. He was always among the league leaders in this particular arena. For the sake of comparison, this season's assists leader, Chris Paul, is averaging 4.; Rondo, who is basically a much, much better Brevin Knight (well, maybe not anymore), is actually averaging a bit less for his career than Knight, at 2.94. At his most efficient, Knight averaged a 4.62 assist-to-turnover ratio during the 2007-08 season while a part-time starter with the Clippers (good for second in the league). He led the league in that statistic once, in 2004-05, and finished in the top 10 four different times all told. He also finished in the top 10 in assists four different times, and in the top 10 in steals three different times.

The best thing about Brevin Knight, though? He knew his strengths and weaknesses! He was aware that he couldn't shoot, he wasn't some hopeless gunner who froze the offense looking for his shot. Knight found the open man and he played within himself. Sure, he got moved around a lot, but another way to look at that speaks more favorably to him: there were teams taking him back on the other ends of all those trades and signings. A tacit back-up point guard who could defend and pass and wouldn't gripe about his role in the team's hierarchy is a huge asset that any smart team would covet. He was such a solid player in his day that he is remembered quite fondly still, coming in at #13 in Complex's list of the NBA's all-time best little guy hoopers (i.e. anyone standing at or under 5'10").

Since the Mike D'Antoni pace-and-space revolution, championship teams ranging from the Mavericks to the Heat to the Spurs to the Warriors have prioritized three-point shooting and getting to the free throw line, Knight's two biggest weaknesses. So his value may depreciate some since his peak days in Charlotte. But point guards who can't shoot but can give you passing and/or crazy defense (Rondo, Patrick Beverley) still have a place in this league. And anyway, Knight would have enough pros to outweigh his cons regardless. He would still be a nice rotational piece on any 2015 roster.

He never got out of the first round in any playoff run across those ten teams. Weirdly enough, he made a perhaps his biggest impression in Memphis from 2001-2003. His gritty efforts as the back-up for peak-era White Chocolate endeared him to Grizzlies fans, so much so that he is now a TV commentator for the team. Here he is having a peak moment. Now granted, his making all those jumpers was kind of an anomaly, but those sweet passes were not.