Brandon Knight and Arron Afflalo have seen their respective last-place teams endure tough seasons, although they continue to try to lead by example.
These leading scorers will be the focal point Tuesday night when Knight’s Milwaukee Bucks look to hand Afflalo’s Orlando Magic a 13th straight road defeat.
Milwaukee (9-43) was the only team still in single digits in victories at the All-Star break while Orlando (16-38) owns the NBA’s third-worst record.
One positive for the Bucks is the play of Knight, acquired from Detroit in the offseason. He’s averaging a career-best 16.7 points – 22.3 in his last three games – as he adjusts to being a marked man for lowly Milwaukee.
"You can’t really have a night where you’re not on your game, because you can be exposed on any night," Knight said. "You’ve got to be able to adapt from game to game and year to year. Something in your game has to improve."
Afflalo is shouldering a similar load for the Magic, averaging a career-high 19.4 points in his second season with the club. He was in a more complementary role when he reached the playoffs in all five seasons with two clubs before joining Orlando.
"I’ve got a great group of teammates, young guys who are wanting to get better," Afflalo said. "And I’m enjoying my position at the moment."
These teams both have promising rookies to build around in Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. Oladipo leads all rookies with 13.9 points per game while Antetokounmpo is fourth at 6.9.
Oladipo has logged 1,723 minutes to lead all first-year players. The most he played in three college seasons at Indiana was 1,021.
"I think the number of games is probably the hardest thing," he said. "Just to get your body right, get your mind right, just being consistent. It’s something you got to work at. So I’m trying to work on that right now."
The 19-year-old Antetokounmpo is adjusting to the NBA as he comes over from Greece and has totaled 13 points during Milwaukee’s four-game losing streak.
"It’s a big difference," he said. "And I’m in another country, and I speak a different language now. The NBA game is very different from the European game."
Afflalo has totaled 57 points to help Orlando go 2-0 against Milwaukee this year, with both wins coming at home. The Magic are seeking to avoid dropping 13 in a row on the road for the first time since a 16-game slide Jan. 27-March 21, 2006.
Former Milwaukee first-round pick Tobias Harris is averaging 20.7 points in three games against the Bucks.
The Bucks could get back a trio of players listed as probable Tuesday. O.J. Mayo has missed the last nine games due to illness and conditioning issues, Caron Butler the last four with a left ankle sprain and John Henson sat out last Wednesday’s 102-98 home defeat to New Orleans with a right ankle sprain.