Something that isn’t receiving too much attention, is the return of Brandon Knight to the Suns lineup this year after sitting last season out with a torn ACL. He appeared in south of 55 games in each of the last two years he had played with the Suns, now he’s back. Likely taking over as a starter this year, Knight has a lot to prove.
The #8 pick by the Pistons in 2008 out of Kentucky, Knight was traded after his second year in Detroit to the Bucks. While in Milwaukee, he stepped up, averaging eighteen points per game, to go along with five assists per game. He would be traded, however, in a three-team deal during 2014-15 to the Phoenix Suns. He has remained there since then, and will be inheriting the starting point guard role, something he hasn’t done since his days in Milwaukee.
Many fans around the league tend to remember knight for getting dunked hard on by LeBron James, his inability to stay healthy, and the fact that he never reached his full potential. He’s far from an elite player, but Knight is a very capable NBA starter. Back in 2015-16, starting next to Eric Bledsoe in the Suns backcourt, he averaged 19.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He was a force to be reckoned with.
Now, that he’s on the comeback trail, he can provide Phoenix something they haven’t had in two years. Eric Bledsoe was the last legitimate starting point guard they had in 2016-17. When he said “I don’t wanna be here” last year, that was that. Mike James, Tyler Ulis, and Elfrid Payton were certainly not the answer at the position. Payton is now in New Orleans, James is overseas, and Ulis remains unsigned. None of them are making too much $ this year, and that should say it all.
There have been a few rumors that if Knight is able to play well enough, he could be used as trade bait later in the season to help the Suns acquire other players. Nevertheless, seeing him shift back from a shooting guard to a point guard, will be fun to watch. It should be a seamless transition for Knight, who will likely split playmaking duties with Suns max-contract guard Devin Booker. He threads the needle well, and is an effective three-point shooter.
Some stat projections for Knight in Phoenix:
65 games played
33 minutes per game
17 points per game
2.0 rebounds per game
6 assists per game
41% field goal percentage
37% three-point percentage
80% free-throw percentage
1.3 steals per game
The most important thing for him now, is that he’s back. He was officially cleared for 5-on-5 practice last month, and has been running in full. He can do contact drills as well. Knight is back, and he is going to remind the world just what he is capable of on one of his good days. Watch out.