New York Knicks rookie Kevin Knox knows his reputation, but he’s out to show that he’s willing and able to defend at a high level in the NBA.
When the New York Knicks selected Kevin Knox at No. 9 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft, the conversation immediately shifted to his upside. He boasts the physical tools to be a force of nature on both ends of the floor, as well as the skill level to score in the half court.
While the upside talk was invigorating, there was a concern that overshadowed the optimism in some circles: Knox’s subpar defense as a freshman at Kentucky.
Knox has the potential to be a lockdown defender, but the film shows a lack of toughness and consistency. That doesn’t seem to fit the system that David Fizdale is building, but there’s a silver lining for Knicks fans to find solace with.
According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Knox has no higher priority than coming out and proving that he’s willing and able to defend at a high level.
"“I’m ready to come out and show people I’m able to play defense,’’ Knox said after their first summer-league practice Tuesday at Thomas & Mack Center. “It’s a new season, a new year, so I’m really looking forward to coming out there and be physical on defense, get stops. Like Coach Fiz says: Our offense is going to come from our defense. If we get stops and run in transition, that’s kind of how we’re going to play.”"
Knox still needs to put his money where his mouth is, but the Knicks have a player who’s aware of what needs to be done to maximize his potential.
Knox has the physical gifts to be a high-level defender, which implies that change could be on the horizon. He stands at 6’9″ with a near 7’0″ wingspan and a 9’0″ standing reach—prototypical measurements for a 3 and ideal marks for a 4.
If Knox plays with a consistent level of energy and intensity, it stands to reason that his size and length alone should make a positive impact.
If Knox develops the proper stance, hand action, and footwork, he could be a legitimate lockdown defender in the NBA.
Knox will have two safety blankets on defense in Frank Ntilikina and, when healthy, Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks’ wing defense has ranked amongst the worst in the NBA, however, and Knox is being brought in to address that flaw.
No matter what transpires on offense, Knox will earn his keep in New York by proving that he can be a better defender than the critics believe he will be.
New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale has Kevin Knox thinking the right way. At this point, that’s all you can ask for.