The Phoenix Suns have struggled over the last couple of seasons, and combo guard Brandon Knight could be traded to pull them from mediocrity.
ESPN’s Marc Stein noted that various teams believe he’ll find his way to the trading block at some point, despite management having no interest in trading him. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix’s general manager, went on the Barns & Gambo radio show and said he would prefer not to deal Knight — or any of his players — until two months have passed so he can have an accurate gauge on their production.
The Suns, who are 5-12 and the second-worst team in the Western Conference, have a couple of guards who are playing well. And Knight isn’t one of them. He’s averaging a career-low in points (12.6) through 17 games, and he’s shooting less than 40 percent from the field for the first time in his career. Furthermore, he’s averaging just 25 minutes per game and has stuck with that despite starting in place of TJ Warren over the last three contests.
Ahead of him are Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, who are combining for a tick over 37 points per game. Add Warren in the mix when he’s healthy, and the Suns have another guy who can go for 20 on any given night.
Back in 2011, Knight was picked eighth overall after an outstanding freshman season at Kentucky. Since then, he’s evolved into a decent combo guard. His biggest issue is health, and the injuries have become more and more prevalent as the years have gone on. Knight played 66 games a rookie and then 75 and 72, respectively, over the next two campaigns.
Since then, he’s played in just 63 and 52 but has had two of his best statistical years. He’s a capable three-point shooter (35.8 for his career) and can get into the lane, just not as often as the NBA’s elite guards. When it comes to passing, he’s not the best, but he’s far from the worst.
Knight will make the right play, but he won’t dazzle while doing it. Some of that stems from not being a true point guard.
If there was one thing that would severely hurt his trade potential, it’s his defense. He’s terrible.
Okay, maybe I over-dramatized it, but he’s not good. Knight’s best defensive season came in 2013-14 with the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that finished fourth overall in defensive efficiency with a mark of 102.2. Even on that team, who traded him and wound up with Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee, he was average at best.
Would he be able to turn it around if he were in a good system? Yes, because it’s happened before. Since leaving the Bucks, Knight’s DRtg hovers around 111, but he has all the tools to be better than that — good size (roughly 6-3), nice length (almost 6-7) and above-average athleticism.
Along with all of those tools, Knight is in the first year of a $70 million contract that extends through 2019-20. If a team were to take him on, they’d be in it for the long haul.
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