Last season, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight shared the same backcourt in Phoenix, as management believed that the two point guards could work cohesively. The Phoenix Suns were pleased that the two guards could both score in the system that was given to them, but the Suns could never get any momentum going as both Knight and Bledsoe were met with injuries. Bledsoe went on to average 20.4 points per game (ppg), 4.0 rebounds per game (rpg), 6.1 assists per game (apg), and 2.0 steals per game (spg) in 31 games for the Suns; Knight had averages of 19.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 5.1 apg, and 1.2 spg in 52 games for the Suns. Individually, both players had remarkable seasons, but the team struggled to make any noise during the season; this has caused management to take action. Only one season removed from a great season, Brandon Knight seems to be on the trade block, but does it seem far that he is traded rather than Eric Bledsoe?
The main reason for the Brandon Knight trade speculation is because of the rise to stardom of Devin Booker, who captured the attention of the league after injuries to Knight and Bledsoe. Head coach, Earl Watson has made it clear that he wants to start and run the Suns’ offense through the second-year player, Booker, and he wants to Knight coming off the bench. There are a number of rumors around the NBA that speculate that Knight is very unhappy with his role as a sixth man and it has effected his on-court play. Knight is currently averaging 12.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, and 2.6 apg in 22.7 minutes per game (mpg), which are all career-lows for the sixth year player out of Kentucky.
Eric Bledsoe is fourth season with the Phoenix Suns and he is averaging 20.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.8 apg, and 1.5 spg in 37 games (all starts). Though these stats seem like an incredible feat, Bledsoe has fallen off a bit since last season as he is averaging less ppg, apg, spg, and is shooting worse from the field and from three-point. The seventh year player out of Kentucky is clearly suffering from a lack of shot attempts as he has had to defer to Devin Booker and T.J. Warren more often. The Phoenix Suns organization has made it clear that they are invested in their young players and are trying to improve them and build around them.
Devin Booker has been the greatest beneficiary from Brandon Knight moving to the bench as he is now averaging 19.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, and 3.1 apg in 36 games (all starts) for the Phoenix Suns. Booker is also leading the team in minutes per game and field goal attempts per game, as it is clear that he is being pinned as the upcoming franchise player. T.J. Warren has also benefited from Brandon Knight becoming the sixth man as he is averaging 14.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, and 1.4 spg in 29.1 minutes per game. Warren is being given a chance, as he is averaging more field goal attempts and minutes per game than Brandon Knight; last season, Knight topped Warren in minutes per game by about 13.2 mpg, and field goal attempts by about 7.8.
If you compare the careers of both Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, you would see a startling difference between the two. After more than six seasons of play, Bledsoe has averaged 12.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 4.4 apg while shooting 32.7% from the three-point line; the problem Bledsoe has, is he has only played in 389 career games. Brandon Knight has played only 25 fewer career games, but he has one season less of experience than Bledsoe. He averages 15.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, and 4.4 apg while shooting 36.0% from the three-point line in his five seasons of play. Through these comparisons, Knight has a higher scoring average, a higher three-point percentage, and plays a higher percentage of his games.
In the NBA today, the three-point line has become more of a necessity for a team, and an up-and-coming team would rather have a younger player who has the potential to expand his skills. The Phoenix Suns have deferred to Devin Booker rather than Brandon Knight because of Booker’s potential, his younger age, his size, and his three-point marksmanship. However, the same does not hold true for the Suns deferring to Brandon Knight rather than Eric Bledsoe. If the Phoenix Suns started Brandon Knight instead of Bledsoe, they would have a younger point guard who can shoot the three-pointer, and has tons of potential because he is only 25 rather than 27. The Suns have probably gone with Bledsoe, who is undersized, because he is the better playmaker of the two guards and has a better field goal percentage. Regardless, both Knight and Bledsoe are great contributors for any NBA team, and it would be a shame if one of them had to leave the Phoenix Suns.
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