Everyone assumes Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo will fill two of the spots on the Bucks‘ future core, but Brandon Knight may have put himself in the team’s long-term plans with his spectacular play this season, writes Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com (insider piece). “You hear this cliché about guys always being the first one on and [last] off the court,” said Bucks GM John Hammond. “Brandon really is like that.” Knight has become the leader on the court late in games. During the last five minutes of games this season, the point guard sports a 37.1% usage rate, which is the best on the team. The Kentucky product understands the progress he made this year but he is more concerned with the team’s 22-21 record this season. “You have to learn from [mistakes],” Knight said. “We still have a long way to go in the season and a lot of home games. I don’t think we can be frustrated. The main thing is to learn from it and get better at it.”
Here’s more out of Milwaukee:
- Knight’s play might warrant him a maximum value contract this offseason, speculates Bill Simmons of Grantland.com. Simmons cites the anticipated rise of the salary cap as well as the point guard’s exceptional shooting as reason for Knight’s expected raise in salary. The 23-year-old is shooting 51.1% from the field and 40.2% from behind the arc, which ranks in the top 20 of all players in the league. Knight will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
- The bench unit of the Bucks deserves more recognition for the team’s improvement this season, opines John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders. The unit, led by new additions Jared Dudley and Jerryd Bayless, tops the league in many statistical categories. They rank first in the league in minutes played, averaging 22.3; assists, averaging 10.9; and steals, averaging 4.0 per game.
- Former NBA player Vin Baker believes the Bucks have a good mix of young talent, write Charles F. Gardner and Todd Rosaik of the Journal Sentinel. Baker, who was a first round draft pick of the Bucks in 1993, spoke to the team this weekend. Baker told the team “to take every day as a blessing” and to not take the opportunity for granted. Baker offered simple advice for Larry Sanders, who was absent from the team’s facilities and hasn’t played in a game in over a month. “I think the most important thing is to take life as the priority,” Baker said. “Take that first. Everything falls into place when you put life as the priority. Sanders was originally out for personal reasons but now is serving a 10-game suspension for his fourth violation of the league’s anti-drug policy of his career.