Fox Sports: Knight picked to win Sixth Man, Booker honorable mention as most improved
The Phoenix Suns tip off the regular-season Oct. 26 against the Sacramento Kings, and predictions surrounding the team continue to roll forward.
The latest one, by Fox Sports’ Andrew Lynch, has point guard Brandon Knight securing the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Suns coach Earl Watson is talking up Knight as a Sixth Man candidate after making it clear the point guard will come off the bench this year, and I’m buying the hype.
Knight hasn’t had a particularly healthy stint with the Suns, since the team acquired the guard from the Milwaukee Bucks near the end of the 2014-15 season. The 24-year-old suffered a left ankle sprain and sore heel after coming to Phoenix, and only played in 11 games in 2015.
He was on pace for a bounce-back season the following year, but was hindered by a sports hernia for most of the year. Knight averaged 19.6 points and 5.1 assists in 52 games.
With the emergence of Devin Booker, who many NBA general managers have pegged to have a breakout year, Knight was pushed from the starting lineup. The move to the bench could benefit Knight in different areas other than his play-making performance.
Since becoming a member of the Suns, Knight has dealt with six injuries, not including an illness he suffered from in Jan. 2016. If having Knight come off the bench, it can limit his minutes and allow Knight to potentially remain healthy for the entire season.
Among the honorable mentions for the award were yearly favorite Los Angeles Clippers’ Jamal Crawford and Oklahoma City Thunder’s Enes Kanter.
Speaking of Booker, Lynch listed the 19-year-old as an honorable mention for the Most Improved Player behind Los Angeles Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell and Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams.
Russell and Adams might see an increase in their touches with Lakers legend Kobe Bryant retiring and Kevin Durant heading to the Golden State Warriors, but Booker will also see a more prominent role with Knight going to the bench.
Booker averaged 13.8 points and 2.6 assists per game last season, but averaged 19.6 points in five preseason games. Granted, it’s only preseason, but the way Booker performed in the preseason and how the team used him will closely resemble how the Suns will look like when the games count for real.