What Brandon Knight’s Breakout Season Means for His Future

What other players does Brandon Knight compare to according to our advanced metrics? You may be surprised.

The Detroit Pistons drafted Brandon Knight with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, one spot ahead of Kemba Walker, and three spots ahead of Klay Thompson.

Although he started 135 games for the Pistons in his first two years, Knight was mostly widely known for getting crossed-up by Kyrie Irving in the Rookie-Sophomore game and getting posterized by DeAndre Jordan on an alley-oop.

Now, in his fourth season, Knight has shown many improvements to his game and is having his best season as a pro. Through 44 games this year, some of his per-36 numbers are career highs: 20.0 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.7 rebounds. Knight is also shooting very efficiently: 44.1% from the field, 40.4% from three, and 88.7% from the free-throw line, all of which are career highs.

In regard to more advanced statistics, Knight’s Player Efficiency Rating of 18.4, true shooting percentage of .560, assist percentage of 27.3%, and win shares per 48 of .125 are all career-highs. Also, his offensive rating of 105 and defensive rating of 103 are both the best he’s posted.

As for our own metrics, Knight is posting his highest nERD to date at 2.3. This means Knight would add 2.3 wins to a team full of league-average players over the course of a season if Knight started for them.

2.3 games might sound like a small number, but when compared to his previous nERD scores of -8.4, -8.1, and -5.3, respectively since his rookie season, it becomes obvious that this is his most efficient season from an overall perspective. Also, our nF Efficiency metric, which measures point differential with a player as a starter is also Knight’s career high: 0.8. It was below zero in his first three years: -2.5, -2.7, and -1.7.

Knight’s performance is just in time for his free agency this summer. And according to our metrics, similar players to Knight this year include 2014 John Wall (93.16% match), 2013 Jeff Teague (91.84%), and 2013 Jrue Holiday (91.75%).

Wall signed a five-year max contract this past summer, while Holiday and Teague both signed four-year deals worth $41 million and $32 million, respectively. With the salary cap expected to rise to somewhere near $80 million, Knight will be getting paid quite handsomely this summer as a result of his breakout season.

Brandon Knight is the best player on the Milwaukee Bucks, who are clearly benefiting from his improved play; after winning just 15 games last year, they currently hold the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference at 22-22.