Brandon Jennings is a below average point guard.
His true shooting percentage ranks 53rd among qualified PGs. His offensive points per possession mark of .88 ranks 260th overall. His defensive PPP mark of .90 puts him at 279th. His on/off court net of -4.4 ranked last amongst guards on the Milwaukee Bucks in ’12-13. As a pick and roll ball handler his shot selection often ranged from below average to downright maddening.
Yesterday the Bucks traded the guard to the Detroit Pistons, and in return they received his potential replacement in Brandon Knight. I say potential, because while the Bucks have seemingly been operating under a win-now mandate under owner Herb Kohl, Knight represents a considerable downgrade at the point guard position. He won’t be winning the Bucks any more games in the ’13-’14 than Jennings would have. He likely loses them significantly more if he’s given starter minutes.
All data from NBA.com, Basketball Reference and Synergy.
• Among guards to play at least thirty minutes a night last season, Knight ranked dead last in Win Shares per 48 minutes with a mark of .022.
• His true shooting percentage was only slightly better than Jennings, coming in at .512
• While he was a net negative on the court, just as all but two Detroit Pistons were last season, he did have the best mark amongst guards at -3.1. For reference, Rodney Stuckey was -7.4 and Jose Calderon was -10.7.
• His overall PPP mark on offense is .83, ranking 338 in the NBA. Jennings ranked 260th.
• His primary situation on offense came as a pick and roll ball handler, and in that role he generated .69 points per possession, an abysmal mark than ranked 133rd in the NBA. The Pistons only scored 34% of the time with Knight in that situation.
• The second most prominent role was in transition, where his 45% scoring mark ranks 276th.
• His third most prominent role was as a spot up shooter, and the numbers are no more encouraging. His PPP mark of .99 ranks 153rd in the NBA, thanks to the Pistons scoring on only 35% of those possessions.
• Maybe most notably, 20% of Knight’s pick and roll possessions ended in turnovers.
• The Bucks can expect slight improvement on the defensive side of the ball: while Jennings allowed .9 PPP (279th), Knight allowed .87 (195th). It is notable that as a defender of the pick and roll ball handler, Jennings allowed 42% shooting and Knight allowed 45% shooting.
When looking at PG play, it’s important to note how players work in a pick and roll setting. As noted above, Knight struggled with efficiency and turnovers. The following video illustrates some of those issues:
It’s also important to look at how they performed in transition. Again, Knight struggled:
It’s difficult to reconcile having a win-now goal while adding one of the worst players in the entire league. The Bucks could conceivably play Luke Ridnour as the primary point point and be better than they were last season, but it’s unclear if that’s their intention at this point. What is clear is that Knight represents a significant downgrade at point guard, and for a team looking to compete for the 8th seed in the East, he severely hurts their chances if given any kind of substantial minutes.