The Milwaukee Bucks are off to a bad start and Michael Carter-Williams has never looked worse.
When the Milwaukee Bucks made a surprise move at the trade deadline last year and shipped off Brandon Knight in a three-team deal that netted them Michael Carter-Williams, they were trying to avoid overpaying Knight while also salvaging the career of a Rookie of the Year who was wasting away in Philadelphia.
It’s far too early to say that trade was a mistake, but it’s pretty clear that between Knight, the Lakers’ protected pick and MCW, Milwaukee’s gotten the short end of the stick.
Over in Phoenix, Knight is putting up career numbers for the Suns, averaging 21.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game on superb .440/.396/.824 shooting splits. He’s set a new career high in scoring twice (37 and 38), he’s put up a gaudy 30-15-10 triple-double and he’s combined with Eric Bledsoe to form the league’s most underrated backcourt.
The tanking Sixers have a grim outlook for the 2015-16 season, but they could be looking at two early lottery picks between their selection and the Lakers’ top-three protected pick. If Los Angeles somehow falls outside the top three, Philly will more than likely have another top-five pick.
The Bucks? Well, they have a 24-year-old point guard who’s actually two months older than Knight, nowhere near as good as Knight, and has recently been benched for Jerryd Bayless.
Ever since replacing Knight with MCW, the Bucks have posted a 17-35 record. They’re 6-11 to start the 2015-16 season, which is even more disappointing when you remember they were 30-23 last season with Knight as their starting point guard.
This season, MCW is averaging a meager 9.8 points, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting a paltry 41.7 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from three-point range. He’s committing 3.5 turnovers in 27.7 minutes per game and the Bucks have been outscored by a staggering 12.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.
Oh, and again, HE WAS RECENTLY BENCHED FOR JERRYD BAYLESS.
In his first game coming off the pine Sunday, MCW didn’t exactly make a compelling case for Jason Kidd to give him more minutes, tallying three points on 1-of-3 shooting in 13 minutes and posting a team-worst point differential of -15.
Games like that have made it hard to avoid the Brandon Knight comparisons, and none of them favor MCW.
When he first arrived in Milwaukee, the trade was defended because it meant the Bucks wouldn’t have to overpay for both Knight AND Khris Middleton.
Behind the Buck Pass
With the money they saved on Knight, the Bucks got one of the most high profile free agency acquisitions in franchise history in Greg Monroe, a move that was supposed to bolster the offense thanks to a defense that could hide his flaws on that end.
Unfortunately, Monroe’s arrival and the departure of veterans like Jared Dudley and Zaza Pachulia have turned the league’s second stingiest defense from 2014-15 into its absolute worst defense here in 2015-16.
Middleton is having a career-best season so far, averaging 14.5 points per game on 46.2 percent shooting from three-point range, but he hasn’t been much of a difference-maker and probably won’t live up to his $70 million extension in his first year under the new contract.
Meanwhile, MCW is completely failing to live up to the triple-double hype that was once his calling card that Bucks fans used to convince themselves the deal was okay. Playing under Kidd, it was hard to ignore the way the two players stacked up to each other through the first few seasons of their careers:
Unfortunately, Carter-Williams hasn’t improved his jump shot, he’s failed to make an impact at the helm of Milwaukee’s offense and he’s rapidly losing confidence as it appears he’s starting to be phased out of the rotation. In less than a year, any hope there was of him becoming some sort of poor man’s Jason Kidd has rapidly dissolved into pessimism about his long-term future in Milwaukee.
It’s far too early to make any definitive statements about whether or not the Brandon Knight trade was a mistake, but with the defense plummeting, the losses stacking up and MCW failing to inspire any faith in his development, it’s safe to say most Bucks fans are starting to daydream about what overpaying to keep Knight and Middleton might have looked like.