Buck’s Brandon Knight developing into all-around player

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During the early stages of his fourth NBA season, Brandon Knight is doing the same thing to his contemporaries.

Knight, beginning his second campaign as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, was the only player in the league averaging 18+ points, 7+ rebounds and 7+ assists through games of Nov. 6.

LeBron James is the only player in the Association to average those numbers over the last 15 seasons.

Jason Kidd, the Bucks’ first-year head coach, might not be aware of those facts, but Knight’s performance has most definitely captured his attention.

“It’s all good stuff,” Kidd said. “He continues to get into the ball defensively, but before that, just setting the table, setting the pace. If you look at a race and when it starts, he’s kind of that guy who gets us going.

“We’ve asked him to do a lot of things – find his teammates, look for his shot – and he’s responded in a positive way. I think one of the nice things is how he’s helped out with rebounds. He’s filling up the stat sheet that way, and by finding teammates.

“Coming down the stretch at Indiana (in an 87-81 Milwaukee victory Nov. 4), he hit a big shot that helped get us through. He also picked up the ball defensively and got some deflections. If there are times when his offense isn’t going, he’s got to continue doing that for us.”

Knight was acquired by the Bucks along with forward Khris Middleton and forward/center Viacheslav Kravtsov from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Brandon Jennings on July 31, 2013.

He encountered a setback just two minutes into the team’s 2013-14 regular-season opener when he sustained a right hamstring injury. The ailment forced him to miss eight of Milwaukee’s first 24 games, and he didn’t score his first points as a Buck until Nov. 9. In his seven November appearances, he averaged 9.6 points in 25.3 minutes per outing, shooting 36.1 percent from the field.

At the time, Middleton expressed his confidence that Knight would rise above his adversity and establish himself as the leader the Bucks were looking for when they made the trade.

“Brandon is a high-character guy with a high motor, someone who’s going to give it his all no matter what day-in and day-out,” Middleton said. “He’s a scorer first, but he can find guys open. He’s a lock-down defender.”

Middleton’s words proved to be prophetic.

Knight led the Bucks in total points (1,291), assists (352) and steals (69) during first season in Milwaukee, becoming just the second Buck ever to accomplish the feat. He appeared in 72 games and averaged 17.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.0 steals per contest.

The 6-3 guard posted career-high single-game totals in points (37), rebounds (14), assists (14), steals (four), field goals made (15), 3-pointers made (six) and free throws made (12). His 2013-14 point total was the 10th-highest total in franchise history for a player in his first season in Milwaukee.

Knight talked about his priorities as he approached his second Bucks camp.

“This year, I just made sure I stayed strong and made sure I came in healthy,” he said. “Last year, I was unhealthy coming into training camp at the beginning of the year.

“I wanted to make sure I was as healthy as possible. I work on my body every summer to make myself flexible, strong and stable. I’m pretty good right now, pretty healthy.

“What made us unstable last year were just the injuries. If guys are able to stay injury-free or have minimal injuries this season, it’ll be more stable than last year. Anything will be more stable than last year.”

Knight was asked if he expected to become a leader of the Bucks, the second-youngest team in the NBA.

“I think I already am,” he said. “It’s just a matter of doing it every single day, making sure that I’m showing it by example and doing it vocally as well.

“I know I’ve gotten better as a player. I know I have the capability of doing it. I think I can showcase it more on this team and I want to continue to grow and do it this year.”

Knight already has a 22-point, 13-assist game to his credit this season (in the team’s Oct. 29 opener vs. Charlotte), but he believes there is more to being a leader than racking up big assist numbers and being vocal on and off the court.

“I would say just getting guys to play hard every night, finding ways to do that,” he said. “That’s the main thing for me, making sure I get guys to come along with me on that journey and play hard every single night.”

Knight is adjusting to playing for his third head coach in three seasons. True to his nature, he has taken the situation in stride.

“It’s part of the business,” he said. “It’s something that you get used to.

“Hopefully we’ll get into a situation where we’ll be stable and we can adjust to one coach or I can adjust to one coach. At the end of the day, you’re going to be in situations where things continue to change. Players come in and out. Coaches come in and out. You can only focus on yourself.”

Scores of Internet surfers focused on a video of Knight working out over the summer.

“I didn’t expect that to happen because we do that every summer,” Knight said. “With social media taking off these days, you put some things on there and sometimes people go crazy over them and sometimes they don’t. I just decided to put my workout video on there.”

He considered his summer beneficial.

“I got some rest and got healthy,” he said. “I did a lot of touring and saw a lot of international players. That was good.”

Knight has already begun to reap the benefits of playing for Kidd, a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer who excelled at the same position he plays.

“He’s never too high, never too low. … a pretty straightforward guy,” Knight said of Kidd. “He’s easy to relate to because he played the game.

“It’s been good. I’m learning a lot. He always has good pointers about the game and different ways of looking at things that can help our team. It’s been very positive so far.”