Is It Time to Sell High on Brandon Knight?
When you hear people talking about the upstart Milwaukee Bucks, you mostly hear folks who are enamored with the size and upside of Giannis Antetokounmpo , the staying power of Jabari Parker, or how Jason Kidd is reestablishing himself as an NBA coach after his tenure in Brooklyn.
You rarely hear about the Bucks’ leading scorer, Brandon Knight, who is quietly putting together a breakout season.
Knight is not only leading the Bucks to what could be their first playoff berth since 2012-2013, but he's quietly putting to rest any lingering doubt about the Bucks trading Brandon Jennings, for him. Making any noise in the playoffs is going to be tough for the Bucks now that Parker has been lost for the remainder of the season, however Knight’s chances of making his first All Star appearance seem pretty good right now.
In his fourth season, Knight’s usage percentage and points per game have virtually stayed the same as last season, but his efficiency is starting to skyrocket. He ranks well inside the top 10 in true shooting percentage (TS%) among starting point guards this season, and if you look at which of those point guards is their team’s leading scorer, Knight ranks among Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Teague, and Tony Parker. He's also shooting as many threes as he did last season, but on the year is just under 40% from beyond the arc, which also ranks him inside the top five amongst point guards so far this year.
Knight is almost automatic from the line, too, which is one of the reasons his TS% has shot up so much this season. He isn’t necessarily getting to the line more this season from last, but he is flirting with 90% from the charity stripe, which would be a full 10 points higher than last.
His improved shooting, and having one of the NBA’s best point guards as his coach, have helped Knight a lot this season. And while he has a long way to go before he is inside the conversation as one of the league’s best overall point guards, he's closing the gap very quickly this season. In a year where Jennings has been relegated to a time-share with D.J. Augustin in Detroit, the Bucks can add already add that trade into the win column.
Fantasy Knight, No More?
Knight’s improved shooting has done almost as much for fantasy owners as it has the Bucks this season. Through the first third of the NBA season, Knight is ranked 15th in the numberFire fantasy metrics among all NBA players, and even though he is 10th among point guards, his improved assist, rebound and steal percentages have made him a valuable fantasy asset. He is still turning the ball over around the same rate as last season, which is concerning, but what’s even more concerning is going to be how he plays without another scorer who can also get his own shot.
Parker has only missed about 2.5 games so far, but with the exception of a 10-19 game against the Blazers this past Wednesday, Knight is starting to slump. If you take away that game, in the Bucks’ last six games, Knight has shot only 41% from the floor, and only 35% from three point land. Plus, in the few games without Parker, Knight’s shot attempts per game have gone from the 13-14 per game range to the 15-20 range. This is really going to hurt his percentages by the end of the season, and while it almost helps those playing daily fantasy, it could really hurt Knight owners in year-long fantasy leagues.
It’s still too early to tell whether or not Knight will be heavily affected by the loss of Parker for the year, but his value is pretty high right now. Hang onto him for now because with more shots come higher numbers on certain nights. But if you aren’t too worried about field goal percentage this season along with a small dip in his assists, you might want to hang onto him. He is going to give you enough production in a lot of categories to retain his value.