It feels like it’s been forever since Brandon Knight has played an NBA game. Injuries have plagued him. Playing for a horrendous team in the early stages of a rebuild didn’t help either. The reason it feels like forever since we’ve seen Knight play is that it has been forever. Knight sat out the second half of the 2016-17 NBA season due to what was ultimately branded as a tanking tactic (and so the Suns could understandably give Devin Booker all the minutes in the world) and then missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in July of 2017. Now it looks like he could be the future starting point guard of the Phoenix Suns.
Looking ahead to next season, the Suns don’t appear to be in tank mode anymore. They’re trying to make strides in the direction of winning now that they have an incredibly young and talented core of Devin Booker, number one overall pick DeAndre Ayton, Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender, T.J. Warren, Marqueese Chriss, along with the addition of veteran forward Trevor Ariza. Are they a playoff team? Not even close, but they won’t be losing games on purpose anymore. They have the foundation they want and are content with trying to compete.
Now the front office has to decide what to do with Knight. The Suns have a desperate need for a point guard and Knight instantly provides that without having to use a high draft pick or dip into free agency. Signing Ariza in the few hours following the start of free agency all but exhausted their eligible cap space for the summer, especially in terms of signing a starting-caliber point guard. They released backup point guard Tyler Ulis (upsetting Booker in the process) but also drafted Elie Okobo from France with the 31st pick in the 2018 draft. Outside of Knight and Okobo, the Suns are dry at point guard (especially now that Elfird Payton signed a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans) with little money to bring in anyone better than Knight.
Whether or not the Suns believe Knight can be their point guard of the future is hazy, but it appears as though they at least want to give him a chance. In Knight’s best season as a pro, which was in 2015-16, he averaged 19.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 5.1 assists across 52 games but missed about one-third of the season with an injury. Which brings up another concern, his injuries. He was fine his first three seasons but missed 19 games in 2014-15, 30 in 2015-16, 28 in 2016-17, and all of last season. If he can get past that and fully recover (remember, he’s only 26) then he could be set up to have a good year. He’s surrounded by budding talent, he won’t be the main attraction of defenses, and he has veteran presences around him.
He played mostly shooting guard when he was healthy in Phoenix, although mainly because Eric Bledsoe ran the point. Getting him back to his natural position should be a positive. It’s been years since we’ve seen what a 100 percent Brandon Knight can do, but there is past evidence that he can be productive. The Suns don’t really have many more options for their lead guard – barring something crazy, which neverrrr happens in the NBA – and Knight looks to be the guy they’re investing in, at least for one season. Not to mention, Knight still has two years and $30 million left on his deal in Phoenix, which is more than enough incentive for the front office to give him a shot at running the show.
It’s easy to forget just how good Knight was early in his career. He was having an All-Star caliber season in Milwaukee in 2014-15 before being traded to the Phoenix Suns. He was the number eight overall pick and a one-and-done for a reason. But he’s a bit of a polarizing player. He’s been the victim of countless poster dunks (some of which are still memes to this very day), a couple ankle-breakers, and infamously blew a wide-open layup that would have won his team the game with time running out. On the other hand, he used to do things like this to the Golden State Warriors.
He also has a history of being a little bit clutch, despite what the Brooklyn Nets might think.
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