While watching Brandon Knight play this season, there are only two thoughts that come to mind.
1) “Man, I’m happy we have that guy.”
The 23-year-old point guard has improved once again this season. After a bit of stagnation in his second season in Detroit, Knight has continuously improved in Milwaukee. Last year, Knight upped his scoring average by 4.5 points and added an assist per game. This year, he’s progressed even more, adding another point, another assist, another rebound, and half a steal to his per-game averages, which brings his totals up to 17.9 points, 6 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game.
On top of that, Knight has turned into a clutch player for the Bucks in late-game situations, hitting big shots against Memphis, Brooklyn and Dallas. He’s been a vital part of the Bucks success this season, running the offense and being a leader on the floor.
Also, he’s not Brandon Jennings. It cannot be forgotten that Knight came to Milwaukee, along with Khris Middleton, in a trade the Bucks have decisively won, as Jennings continues to struggle in Detroit
2) “Man, are we really going to pay that guy?”
Brandon Knight is certainly giving the Bucks something to think about.
Although there is a lot to like about Knight’s performance and development in Milwaukee, there are also some valid criticisms.
Like Knight’s other averages, his turnover totals have also increased this season. Knight is averaging 3.3 turnovers per game, the 10th-highest per-game total. The high turnover total comes from some poor passing decisions and his continued insistence on trying to regularly split double teams.
When it comes to shooting the ball, 22 percent of his attempts are long twos (16 feet or greater 2-point attempts). This is a worrisome statistic. Although he is quite good at these shots, hitting nearly 40 percent of them, they’re far from ideal for a team’s point guard, since settling for a long two likely means a player isn’t getting deep into the defense and probing the defense for open shooters.
Ultimately, though, what makes the decision really tough for the Bucks is the rest of the league. The NBA is really good at point guard right now. Most would say Brandon Knight is an above-average NBA point guard, and he’s probably only between the league’s 15th- and 20th-best point guard. If the Bucks had a talented young shooting guard, we might be talking about a max contract right now, because there are maybe 10 above average shooting guards in the league.
So, the question isn’t really, “Is Brandon Knight worth $10 million to $12 million a year?” The answer to that question is likely yes. Instead, the question is, “Is it worth $10 million to $12million a year for the Bucks to field the 15th-best player at his position?”
These are the type of roster construction decisions that make running an NBA team so hard, and why no one should envy the position John Hammond will be in for the next year.
What to Read
Rejuvenated Sanders, Mayo providing early spark – Eric Buenning at Brew Hoop took a look at the significant impact improved seasons from Sanders and Mayo have had on this Bucks season.
The Bucks are making rebuilding look fun – In Grantland’s review of the NBA’s first month, Chris Ryan writes about how fun the Bucks have been this season and then compares Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker to the Thunder’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Jabari Parker named Eastern Conference’s Rookie of the Month – On Wednesday, Jabari Parker was named the conference’s best rookie in the month of November, and Brew Hoop’s Dan Sinclair pulled together some of the stats that helped parker make his case.
Ilyasova sidelined by nasal fracture – Ersan Ilyasova has been great for the Bucks lately, but will now miss at least the next four games. Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the details as well as some interesting Ilyasova stats.
Clip of the Week
If you follow me on Twitter (@eric_nehm), you will regularly see me complain about the way the Bucks run their lanes on fast breaks. If they decide to do some video work on it, they can show this play from Saturday night. After an Antetokounmpo block, O.J. Mayo finds the corner and everyone else finds the perfect spot on the floor, enabling the Bucks to make a few passes to find an open Ersan Ilyasova for 3.
Week in Review
Wednesday (Nov. 26) – In the battle of this year’s top picks, Andrew Wiggins (14 pt/ 8rbs/4 asts/2 blks) probably beat Jabari Parker (11pts/7 rbs/3asts), but the Bucks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 103-86.
Friday – The Bucks pushed their winning streak to three, beating the Detroit Pistons 104-88, their second win over Detroit in four days. Ersan Ilyasova led the way for the Bucks with 22 points and eight rebounds.
Saturday – Without Dwight Howard, the Houston Rockets might have been even more dangerous, as they spaced four shooters around James Harden, and the Bucks just didn’t have an answer. Harden went off (34pts/7asts/6rbs) in the Rockets’ 117-103 victory.
Tuesday – Close throughout the game, the Bucks just didn’t have quite enough down the stretch against the Cleveland Cavaliers, falling 111-108.
Wednesday – He only had 23 points on 26 shots on the night, but that 26th shot was the one that mattered for Monta Ellis, as he hit the buzzer-beater to give the Dallas Mavericks a 107-105 victory.
Next Week’s Preview
Friday – After playing LeBron James and the Cavs on Tuesday, the Bucks will welcome his former team to town Friday, the Miami Heat. They’ve been just fine without James this year, with both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade averaging more than 21 points per game.
Saturday – After a tough loss to them on Wednesday, the Bucks will look to return the favor against the Dallas Mavericks in Texas this weekend.
Tuesday – The Bucks travel to one of the loudest arenas in the league to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, and it might be just a little louder with both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook back on the floor.
Stats of the Week
22.4 – Kendall Marshall has started to see the floor more for the Bucks recently, and he’s making the most of it. He’s creating 22.4 points by assist per 48 minutes. That’s the league’s 12th-highest rate. (via NBA Stats)
52.2 – In the last 10 games, among players who have made at least one 3-pointer per game, Jared Dudley is shooting the league’s eighth-highest percentage, 52.2 percent. (Also in the Top 50: 29th – Khris Middleton at 44 percent, 36th – Ersan Ilyasova at 43.3 percent) (via NBA Stats)
37.8 – In the last 10 games, the Bucks have shot the league’s sixth-highest 3-point percentage, 37.8 percent (via NBA Stats)
Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s
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