This is the sixth in a 15-part series running Wednesdays and Fridays profiling each Milwaukee Bucks player leading up to the start of the NBA season.
At one point during Brandon Knight’s introductory press conference, Bucks general manager John Hammond looked his new point guard in the eye while saying he has no doubts the 21-year-old wants to become an All-Star. Without hesitation, Knight grabbed his microphone and said “Absolutely.”
With Brandon Jennings and the Bucks headed for divorce, Knight was the replacement Milwaukee coveted. A deal was made possible because the Pistons no longer felt Knight was the man for the job.
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Detroit felt Knight wasn’t a true point guard just two years after selecting him eighth overall out of the University of Kentucky. The Bucks disagree with the notion Knight isn’t a point guard and feel his talent, work ethic and character give him a chance to be an All-Star down the road.
There’s a giant chip on Knight’s shoulder. He’d love to prove his former team made a mistake in giving up on him at such a young age. The opportunity is there for Knight to do just that in Milwaukee, as he’ll jump right in as the team’s starting point guard.
2012-13 stats: 13.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, 40.7 FG %, 36.7 3-point FG %, 73.3 FT % in 75 games
2013-14 salary: $2,947,800
Last year: Knight played point guard for the first half of last season, but he spent most of his time at shooting guard after the Pistons acquired Jose Calderon to run the show. It was hard for a player just 20 years old at the time to develop as a point guard when he didn’t get time at the position.
That being said, Knight didn’t take a step forward offensively in his second season. His scoring averaged increased by just a half point per game and his decision making still left a lot to be desired. Though he did spend quite a bit of time at shooting guard, Knight’s assists average wasn’t very high even when he was at the point.
Knight is a better 3-point shooter than Jennings, but isn’t yet as polished offensively as his predecessor. There certainly were flashes of what he could become. Knight has the potential to be a better penetrator and finisher than Jennings due to his size. Knight must become better in the pick and roll game, cut down on his turnovers and finish more consistently to take the next step.
Defensively, Knight had a fine year last season. His size and length help him to be able to fight through screens and guard the perimeter well. The Pistons were better defensively with Knight on the floor, and he will be an upgrade on that end for the Bucks.
This year: Although veteran Luke Ridnour is on the roster, Knight will begin the season as the starter at point guard. Though the Bucks should stick with their young point guard through his growing pains, Ridnour does provide a steady veteran presence behind Knight.
Knight isn’t going to be 22 years old until December. Milwaukee is an intriguing team to watch because of young players like Knight. Talented and motivated, Knight could be in for a big season, but he still has quite a bit to prove. It’s now up to Knight to determine if the Pistons were wise or foolish for letting him go. The Bucks feel he’s a player who should be just finishing his junior year of college, not changing positions.
Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups didn’t become All-Star point guards overnight, something Knight has referenced on multiple occasions when talking about his development. He feels he needs more time and experience, and he’ll get both with the Bucks.
With a team option for next season, Knight likely has two years to do in Milwaukee what he couldn’t do in Detroit — prove to the Bucks he is their franchise point guard. The opportunity is there, now he must grab it.
From the front office: “I don’t know where this, ‘Is he a point guard, is he a shooting guard?’ came from. He’s always, in my eyes, been a point guard. (He’s) a point guard that has the ability to score, and that’s a big, big luxury. At 21 years old he’s played a lot of games already in the NBA.” — Bucks coach Larry Drew