Kevin Knox was a summer league sensation just two long seasons ago in 2018. New York Knicks fans were excited to add a versatile wing that can attack the rim with ferocity and make threes. Neither of which panned out with the big boys.
He was primed to be the modern tweener teams in the 2020s are looking for. At only 21 years old, there’s still a lot to be desired of Knox’s game. In his two seasons, he has played 140 games barely cracking double-digit point averages, often getting lost defensive matchups. Knox has been taking way too many threes, often settling, getting lost in offensive spacing, and frankly not understanding what is required of him.
Most of this falls on the Knicks’ shoulders. They clearly have had no vision for what Knox could be. The team obviously has not developed his court awareness and is not funneling him towards high percentage shots closer to the rim. Lots of mistakes and three years later and we ask ourselves this question. Is it too early to give up on Knox?
The answer is of course it’s too early. You don’t give up on a 21-year-old 6’7 player with a 6’11 wingspan that can shoot from deep and has a knack for blocks and eye-popping rim runs. Here is why.
2018-19: 75 GP, 57 GS, 28.8 MPG, 37 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 71.7 FT%, 4.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 12.8 PPG
2019-20: 65 GP, 4 GS, 17.9 MPG, 35.9 FG%, 32.7 3P%, 65.3 FT%, 2.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 6.4 PPG
Paul George just yielded five 1st round picks and a revamp when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019. Kevin Knox’s best-case scenario is close to PG if he has the right veterans and coaching around him. It would be plain malarkey to get rid of him. Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti is now asking for Knox in a potential Chris Paul trade. Frankly, that would be the first tragic move of many this Knicks management looks ready to make. This management bunch has a lot to prove given the rumors we have been hearing all summer.
Paul George’s First Two Seasons:
2010-11: 61 GP, 19 GS, 20.7 MPG, 45.3 FG%, 29.7 3P%, 76.2 FT%, 3.7 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 7.8 PG
2011-12: 66 GP, 66 GS, 29.7 MPG, 44 FG%, 38.5 3P%, 80.2 FT%, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 12.1 PPG
Knox’s upside is realistically closer to Tobias Harris. A scorer first wing that can play the three and the four and guard both with ease. He has ways to go. First, Knox must get closer looks at the rim. He must utilize his length to his advantage as well as develop a subtle mid-range game. Knox tends to look down when dribbling and get caught and run into help defense. The third-year forward also struggles with off the dribble shots from the perimeter. The coaching staff needs to spend time in the video room to help Knox understand which routes to take and when to take them within the offense. In Knox’s defense, he’s dealt with three coaches with different philosophies in less than 2 seasons.
It’s no wonder that an expert for young talent like Sam Presti has his eyes on Knox. The same can be said for Frank Ntilikina. Whether he can develop his passing or not will be a major indicator of his career trajectory, as teams pile on passing and shooting coupled with defensive switchability.
Kevin Knox’s Potential
The eye test does not show a lot of potential on the passing front. Perhaps a Tobias Harris type career is conceivable. If he puts his mind to be the player that he has the latency to be then the sky is the limit. Another former Knicks player (that was also traded too early) that can shed some light on Knox’s potential and future is Trevor Ariza. A reliable career three and D guy with a championship pedigree who is ending out a rather notable career.
Future For Kevin Knox
The Knicks should not trade or give up on their young players. The young prospects with the least potential on the Knicks’ roster are arguably R.J. Barrett and Dennis Smith Jr. but that’s for another story. Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, R.J. Barrett, and Mitchell Robinson must be groomed to well-defined roles. You cannot expect young players to excel without well-defined roles. Knicks’ head coach Tom Thibodeau is a veteran coach that understands that. Let’s hope the Knicks don’t give up their future due to impatience like they usually do every few years. Surprise fans and develop the team the hard way, the right way.