After leading the Atlanta Hawks to three consecutive playoff appearances while putting together a combined 128-102 record from 2010-2013, head coach Larry Drew is struggling mightily in his first season at the helm for the Milwaukee Bucks. Crushed by injuries and plagued by inconsistency, the Bucks have managed to claim victory in just seven of their 31 games to this point. However, one thing that the coaching staff, front office and fans can be excited about is the emergence of 22-year-old point guard Brandon Knight.
Knight was acquired by the Bucks this offseason after spending the first two seasons of his NBA career with the Detroit Pistons. Though he had shown flashes of promising potential at times during his tenure in the Motor City, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft rarely performed at the level displayed during the last couple of weeks. Since Dec. 18, a stretch of seven games, Knight has averaged 23.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists while shooting north of 46 percent from the field. The onetime University of Kentucky standout will be facing off with another budding backcourt star on Thursday night in Utah.
Utah Jazz rookie Trey Burke has the basketball scene around Salt Lake City buzzing as well. Drafted No. 9 overall in the past June’s draft, the former Michigan Wolverine missed the first 12 games of the season due to injury before making his professional debut on Nov. 20. The Jazz were 1-11 at that juncture and showing little sign of life. Since then, however, Burke has sparked some energy in the team and led them to a 9-13 mark while putting up 13.8 points per contest. Granted, the win-loss record is not anything to brag about, but it is a vast improvement.
Though the bout between the Jazz and Bucks is no where close to a marquee matchup, the battle at point guard should be entertaining. For the sake of their respective fanbases, let’s hope that Knight and Burke deliver.