Since being traded by the Milwaukee Bucks to Phoenix last February, things haven’t gone very well for Suns guard Brandon Knight.
Sure, he got a five-year, $70 million contract last summer, but the previous statement goes beyond finances.
He’s struggled to stay healthy. Knight has played in only 53 of Phoenix’s 78 games since he’s been on the roster. Last season, the former Kentucky guard was slowed by an ankle injury. This season, it’s a groin issue that has caused him to miss the last eight ball games.
A cursory look at Knight’s stats paint a pretty nice picture. He’s averaging 19.7 points and 5.1 assists per game while shooting 42 percent — which is a shade above his career shooting percentage.
But ESPN Insider Jeremias Engelmann has identified Knight as one of the five most overrated players in the NBA. According to Engelmann, the fifth-year guard has two big problems. First, it’s his ability to get others involved in the offense.
Unfortunately, as a playmaker he has struggled. He hasn’t been able to get lobs consistently to Tyson Chandler for the center’s trademark alley-oop dunks. Overall, Knight’s 5.1 assists per 36 minutes are accompanied by 3.4 turnovers per 36, including the 11th-most live-ball turnovers in the league.
Among the ten players who average the most turnovers per game this season, Knight has the second-lowest assist per game average. Only Indiana’s Paul George (4.0 assists, 3.7 turnovers per game) has a worse mark.
And then, there’s the defense, or as Engelmann points out, the lack of defense.
Knight’s role in the Suns’ bottom-two defense is pretty clear. In addition to the turnovers, he’s not a stopper, he rarely blocks shots and he grabs only three defensive rebounds per 36 minutes.
For most of the season, the Suns have been about four points per 100 possessions better on defense with Knight sitting. While that number has improved of late (the Suns still rate as better without him playing), in large part that’s because of all the minutes Phoenix is giving to very young players like Devin Booker and Archie Goodwin.
Certainly Knight’s time in the Valley has to be labeled a disappointment, but he’s still only 24, and as Engelmann points out, still has time to focus on his defense.
The other four players identified as the league’s most overrated players are Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, New York’s Carmelo Anthony, Oklahoma City’s Enes Kanter and Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo.
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