The New York Knicks are clearly in rebuild mode, but that doesn’t mean their dismal season has been full of disappointments. With the team being young, the Knicks have found a few reasons to rejoice. Despite the loss of Kristaps Porzongis, and the awful ownership practices of James Dolan, there are bright spots the roster. One of them just happens to be a rookie named Kevin Knox.
Before the 2018 NBA Draft, many analysts had the Knicks selecting Mikal or Miles Bridges or even snagging Michael Porter. But the Knicks saw something in Knox, feeling the best option was to bring him to the Garden. In his rookie season, Knox has had his share of ups and downs. However, Knox is averaging 12.2 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting .370 percent from the field.
What the Knicks have in Knox is a 19-year old player with a high ceiling.
As usual, Knicks fans weren’t feeling the selection. They wanted a more known name, but what Knox has done has proven that some fans are just as clueless and Dolan. On the season, Knox is outperforming the players fans wanted instead of him. With the absence of Porzingis, Knox has been giving a chance to prove himself and he’s done just that.
Now, what needs to happen is increased playing time. With rumors that the Knicks are open to trading Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway, and Courtney Lee, this means the team is solely focused on the future of their young guys. By moving those veteran players, this will allow David Fizdale the opportunity to unleash the potential of his young core.
Kevin Knox is playing 27.3 minutes per game while averaging 11.6 shots attempts per. What Knox will have to so is use his quickness off the dribble and not rely so much on the three-point shot. He will need to mirror his game after a player such as Paul Millsap. Get better on the defensive end of the floor while his offensive game matures.
Another area where Knox must improve in is his free-throw shooting and rebounding.
For a player with his size, Knox should be at the line more than 2.9 times per game. He averages 4.8 three-point attempts which takes him away from the paint, thus decreasing his trips to the line. This new style of basketball is why big men are so undervalued. Everyone wants to prove they have a perimeter game, not realizing that games are still won and lost in the paint.
As for his rebounding, it all goes back to his perimeter game. The best rebounders in the NBA are not just the defensive end. The best chances a team has to win any game is by getting second-chance points. As a team, the New York Knicks are ranked 24th in total rebounds. If Knox can get better position on the blocks, this will allow better chances for their perimeter players to take uncontested shots.
It’s his rookie season and there will be growing pains. But along the way, Knox has shown flashes of greatness. As the season has progressed, Knox has provided steady play while his minutes have increased. What’s to come next for the rookie is to end the first and start the second half of the season with a bang.
With Porzingis still hobbled, coupled with his impending free agency this summer, this could very well become his team in 2019. The Knicks will need to focus their rebuild around Knox if Hardaway and Kanter are indeed moved as expected by the trade deadline. So far, Knox has shown he can handle the load but it has been in increments.
While fans weren’t expecting his selection, they have come to respect his game. Hold on tight Knicks fans, this is just the beginning.