This is the first installment in a series that will assess several of the Bucks’ key players to determine their long-term value to the franchise.
Last summer, the Milwaukee Bucks made a significant change at the point guard position for the first time in four years, trading starter Brandon Jennings to Detroit for Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton.
The Bucks have been the clear winner in the trade. They ridded themselves of the disgruntled Jennings and found a capable role player off the bench in Middleton. Most importantly, however, was acquiring Knight, who has been the Bucks’ starting point guard and best overall player throughout this moribund season.
Knight has led Milwaukee with 17.4 points and 5.0 assists per game. He has scored at least 25 points in 11 games, including a career-high 37 against the Lakers on New Year’s Eve. He also drained a game-winning 3-pointer against the Knicks on Feb. 3.
Knight just turned 22 and is finishing up his third pro season. His per-game points and assists numbers have improved every year. Youth and improvement—the two key aspects of any rebuilding process.
However, Knight’s scoring numbers are most likely the byproduct of being on such a bad team. He has started a team-high 53 games this season, and is second on the team in minutes played, behind only his former Pistons teammate Middleton.
Knight’s field goal percentage has hovered at a mediocre 41 percent throughout his career, although it currently sits at a career-high 42.2 percent. With his shooting improvement negligible, his scoring increase simply means he’s taking more shots. Indeed, Knight leads the Bucks in field goal attempts by a substantial margin.
Among qualified point guards, Knight’s field goal percentage ranks 19th out of 26 players. However, his shooting is a huge upgrade over his predecessor, Jennings. Jennings’ 37.9 percent accuracy from the field is the second lowest mark in the NBA among qualified players at any position (sorry, Trey Burke).
As far as defense goes, Knight is shaky and often falls out of position. His defensive efficiency rating is 113. A higher number isn’t a good thing—it means that Knight allows 113 points per 100 possessions to his matchup assignment.
Such a high number equates to one of the lowest rankings in the league. For comparison, the worst defensive rating in the league is 115, and the best is 96.
While Knight may ultimately be a what-you-see-is-what-you-get point guard, there is no reason to look for alternative options at this time. He is under contract through next season and becomes a restricted free agent after that.
With the Bucks still several years away from contending, they can keep him and see whether he will develop or if his improvement has reached a stalemate. At the very least, Knight is a transition player until the team gets better and a superior point guard becomes available.