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What to expect from Kevin Knox in his second season with the Knicks

Kevin Knox, Knicks

The New York Knicks have a collection of young talent mixed with oddly fitting veterans. They’re going to need some of their recent first-round picks like Kevin Knox to raise their game if they want to escape the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

The current projection is that Knox is going to be coming off the bench while the team deploys a frontcourt of Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson. While there is still the possibility that lineup changes could occur throughout the season, it will be up to Knox to earn that role from head coach David Fizdale and provide a ‘spark’ off the bench.

Last season, Knox averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds and while that may appear to be effective, he struggled significantly with his scoring efficiency and defensive impact. The Knicks are going to need to see development and perhaps coming off the bench will help him with accomplishing that.

While it is expected that first-year players are inefficient, the extent of Knox’s lack of production was concerning. When including passing, he produced 0.964 points per possession (6th percentile) last season, which means that he was the least efficient offensive player with the basketball in his hands among the 113 players that recorded at least 1,000 possessions.

There have been flashes of progression from Knox during the preseason but he will need to bring that to the regular season before it holds weight. The two main areas where he has displayed some growth has been in making passing reads when operating in the pick-and-roll and jump shooting. It remains to be seen if he can turn a flash or two into sustainable impact, though.

The only area of playmaking within the half-court that Knox appeared to have comfort doing last season was pick-and-roll ball handling. However, he still produced only 0.891 points per possession (40th percentile) when accounting for passing. The main issue was that he wasn’t efficient enough as a scorer himself in this area to make passes 18.8 percent of the time.

Knox was one of the absolute worst finishers around the basket in 2018-19 and wasn’t a reliable jump shooter either. At his size, he should be able to consistently get his shot off against most defenders, it will be up to him to become consistent doing it. There were a few plays in the preseason that provided a reason for optimism, but it’s still just preseason.

There are a lot of areas where Knox will need to improve based on the execution that he provided the Knicks as a rookie. The expectation is that he shows progress in at least a handful of key areas and at least comes close to solidifying himself as a long-term starter.