MANILA, Philippines – Up-and-coming guard Brandon Knight has high hopes for the Phoenix Suns heading into the 2016-17 NBA season after a series of offseason moves that brought much-needed veteran presence to the young squad.
Knight signed a contract extension with the Suns ahead of the 2015 season, but they struggled in their campaign with injuries, as well as changes to the coaching staff. Phoenix slumped to a 23-59 record, fourth in the Pacific Division, and missed the post-season.
"Every team has its own challenges," Knight said on Monday in an appearance at the NBA Store. "Now, with Phoenix, we're a young team again. We had a lot of injuries last year. We're trying to find a way to stabilize ourselves and build with the roster that we have."
"Our goal is to be one of the best teams in the West," he added. "That's what we're trying to do right now."
The Suns had a promising offseason, drafting Croatian big man Dragan Bender with the fourth pick of the 2016 rookie draft, then signing free agents Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley – both former Phoenix players.
"It's gonna be great," Knight said of the addition of Barbosa and Dudley. "We have a young team, and with such a young team, you need a veteran presence."
"You have that with Tyson (Chandler), we have that in Barbosa and Jared Dudley. To have the voice of guys who have done it, so younger guys will have something to look to, an example to look to, somebody who will show them how it's supposed to be done, how to win a championship, what it's like to build championship habits… To have those guys is gonna be very important for us," he added.
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There are still things to work out. Earl Watson will be in his first full year as head coach, and he will have to deal with the Suns' plethora of guards that includes not just Knight but other up-and-comers including Devin Booker and the athletic, if injury-prone, Eric Bledsoe.
Knight, however, is unconcerned about their packed backcourt and says they can work things out by "doing what it takes to win."
"If you do what it takes to win and you sacrifice, you leave it all on the court, and if you guys really bond together – which we do, not just the guards but our entire team, we're forming a great bond," he said.
"That's kind of the thing that we have going on right now – we bond and get to know each other," he added.
"Something special is really happening in Phoenix, and that's how we're gonna make it work, just by being brothers off the court, and on the court, we'll find a way to make it work."
Knight averaged a career-high 19.6 points per game in 36 minutes of action per contest last season, but played in only 52 games. His season ended in early April, and had to go through surgery to fix a sports hernia.
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