Anyone who follows the Bucks closely has probably come across some type of debate about Brandon Knight.
After coming over from the Detroit Pistons with Khris Middleton in exchange for Brandon Jennings--a deal that continues to look more and more lopsided--Knight posted career-highs in points, rebounds, steals, true-shooting percentage, and win shares (among several other stats) with the Bucks.
But while those numbers were a welcome sight during an otherwise ugly season, the jury was still out on whether or not Brandon Knight was the Bucks' long-term solution answer at point guard. The same concerns about decision-making and being the conductor of the offense were out there, and there had also been reports this summer that the 6-foot-11 Giannis would be cutting into some point guard time.
At Monday's Media Day, Knight made it a...ahem...point to say where he thought he'd be playing this season.
"I'm a point guard at the end of the day. But like I said I know I'll be on the court playing...as a point guard."
Knight is eligible to sign an extension with the Bucks by October 31st. And while extending him at this point seems unlikely, Knight can at least make his case for a new deal next summer stronger by improving as both a player and a leader. He was determined to do just that when he was asked about what he'd like to improve on from last season.
"I would say getting guys to play hard every night. Finding ways to do that. For me last year, a lot of times, of course I'm going to play hard every night, but for me, I think great leaders find ways to make guys that sometimes don't play hard every night, they find ways to make sure they're tuned in. That's the main thing for me. Making sure I get guys to come along with me on that journey to play hard every night for 82 games."
"I think I already am [a leader]. It's just a matter of me doing it every single day. Making sure I'm showing by example and also doing it vocally as well."
It's clear that Knight has spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a point guard, but translating those thoughts into on-court execution is a whole different animal. Knight will get plenty of opportunities to distinguish himself as the lead guard, but the competition at the position will be much stronger this year. The Bucks added Jerryd Bayless and Kendall Marshall in the off-season, and Nate Wolters showed last year that he is capable of making plays at either guard spot. Still, Knight isn't worried that he won't be able to stand out.
"We got a lot of guys that can play. At the end of the day, we're going to put the best guys on the court. I'm sure Coach Kidd wants to win, like we all want to do. So the best players will be on the court, and they'll play. Like I said, I know I'm going to be on the court. I'm going to show it in training camp like I showed it last year like I show it all the time. "
What about the point Giannis rumors? Has that affected Knight at all?
"It has nothing to do with me, my man. If that's what the plan is, that's what the plan is. At the end of the day I know I'm going to play and I know I'm going to be effective when I'm on the court."
Knight's next contract--regardless of when that comes--will largely be predicated on how much improvement he'll be able to demonstrate and how much promise he can give to the Bucks (or another team) down the road.
There's no doubt that Knight believes he'll be able to make a strong case for himself as the point guard going forward. He has improved, but he'll face the challenge of having to prove himself to others...again. It's nothing he isn't already used to seeing or hearing, but this time around the stakes are a little higher. We'll see if he can again rise to the challenge.