On Tuesday, the Bucks and Pistons completed a sign-and-trade deal that sent Brandon Jennings to Detroit and brought Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravtsov to Milwaukee in return. After a few days of letting the move sink in, we thought it would be interesting to get a Detroit point of view on the deal, as well as some opinions on the newest faces on the Bucks roster. So I chatted with Detroit native, Pistons fan and basketball blogger extraordinaire Jameson Draper of PistonPowered.com. Here’s what went down:
Cole: What are your thoughts on the sign-and-trade deal between the Bucks and Pistons that sends Brandon Jennings to Detroit in exchange for Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton and Viacheslav Kravtsov? Which team won the trade?
Jameson: It’s hard to tell which team won the trade, because no one’s played a game yet. However, if I had to pick a winner, it would be Milwaukee. Detroit got the best player in the deal in Brandon Jennings, but he doesn’t necessarily fit the offensive scheme the Pistons are taking this year. With a shot creator in Josh Smith and two prolific scoring big men, the player Detroit needed was a pass-first guard, and… that’s not Brandon Jennings. On Milwaukee’s side, they got Viacheslav Kravtsov, Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton. Kravtsov is a novelty; the only positive you’ll get out of him is his incredible name. Khris Middleton, however, is a good shooter and can defend both the two and three positions. He has the potential to be a competent sixth man in the NBA someday. Brandon Knight’s going to be a good guard someday, even though his career’s been rough thus far. Plus, Knight is definitely not a big step down from what they had at point guard last season in Brandon Jennings.
Cole: I completely agree with everything you said. While Jennings’ style of play may not be the best fit at point guard for Detroit, his talent is undeniable and should help the Pistons win. Hopefully he’ll thrive with all of the pieces around him, as he certainly won’t have to be the team’s number one scoring option. I think the Bucks did well in swapping him for two intriguing prospects; Knight and Middleton. Like you said, Kravtsov isn’t an important piece in this deal, just filler. But I can definitely see Knight and Middleton having the potential to be important pieces of the franchise moving forward.
What did you see from Brandon Knight in his two-season stint in Detroit? Can he be Milwaukee’s point guard of the future?
Jameson: I saw a lot of good and bad from Knight on the Pistons. He shoots the ball a lot (I’m sure Milwaukee fans know all about this) and sometimes gets stuck in the middle between a two guard and a one guard. If the Pistons nurtured Knight better in his first two seasons, he would have been a much more highly-regarded player than he is right now. If the Bucks can bring Knight in and start grooming him to be the team’s point guard of the future from day one, they have a great shot at having him become a great point guard. All of the tools are there. He’s athletic with a good shot and can get to the rim, and had a reputation as a solid defender back at Kentucky. He also could be a huge bust. It all depends on how well the Bucks groom him.
Cole: When the deal first went down I was ecstatic to see Knight was Milwaukee-bound. I know he’s recently been the victim of a few unfortunate events, but in his first two NBA seasons Knight has shown he has all the tools to be a solid starting point guard in the association. He can shoot, create, finish and defend. Plus, it’s nice to have a guy with some size (6’3″, 189 pounds) running the point for a change. Considering the job Larry Drew did with Jeff Teague in his time in Atlanta, I have no doubts the Milwaukee staff can develop Knight in to the great player he has the potential to be.
I know you’ve watched a lot of Khris Middleton this past season, including his short time in the D-League. Can you see him developing in to a solid rotation player for the Bucks?
Jameson: Yes, yes and yes. He’s great at creating and making his own shots, he’s a good perimeter defender and can get to the basket. He’s not superb at any of these things, but he’s definitely good enough to find his way into the rotation of most NBA squads.
Cole: It’s good to hear I’m not the only one who’s intrigued by Middleton. I’ve only seen him play a few times over the past year, but I can definitely see the considerable amount of skill he has. I agree with you that with some work, Middleton can find thrive as a rotational swingman.
Viacheslav Kravtsov didn’t see a whole lot of time on the floor last season. If he isn’t released by the Bucks, will he be able to find any play time in a crowded Milwaukee front court?
Jameson: If someone gets hurt, then sure he will. He played 25 minutes per game when Drummond got hurt last season. Granted, the Pistons front court, while having great starters, wasn’t very deep last season. He could find playing time, though, for sure.
Cole: Any other thoughts you’d like to share about the Bucks’ offseason as an observer from afar?
Jameson: The Bucks got rid of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings and retained Larry Sanders and John Henson for their front court. Success.
Cole: Well said. Thank you Jameson for chatting with us and we hope to talk to you again soon!