New York Knicks: Where is Kevin Knox headed entering year two?

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After an interesting ride as a rookie with the New York Knicks, where is Kevin Knox headed as a sophomore?

To say Kevin Knox’s rookie season was a rollercoaster would be an understatement. He went from being injured within his first five games to winning Rookie of the Month to hitting a rookie wall that he was never consistently able to climb over. Now with his first season under his belt, Knox has to find a way to live up to the lottery slot the New York Knicks selected him at.

Many rookies get caught up in the glitz and glamor of being an NBA player, something that is completely possible in New York with a franchise and fan base that puts the hopes and dreams of nearly three generations on each first-round draft pick. For Knox progress and not be another busted Knick draft pick, he has plenty of skills to add to his bag over his first full offseason.

Knox has a frame and a skillset that should lend itself to be successful in the modern NBA. His nearly seven-foot wingspan and initial shooting touch, which has him knocking down the three at league average, should serve him well as a potential “3-and-D: wing. As a prospect, that prototype should be a success, anything else after that would be icing on the cake.

The first area of concern is his shooting at the rim. Per Cleaning the Glass, Knox is finishing at an abysmal, truly terrible, 48 percent at the rim. That puts him in the ninth percentile among all forwards. At 6-foot-9, there is no reason for Knox to finish the way he does. When he’s at his best Knox uses his frame to get into the body of the defender of the rim. Along with a heightened level of physicality, the floater is another tool that he uses to score. However, with that being his go-to shot, it’s still not enough to get his percentage to where it needs to be.

In December, Knox began to shift his narrative and showed the potential that he has. At 17 points and 6 rebounds per game for the month, he was coming into his own. He started the month off with a fantastic game against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks at the Garden. He came off the bench and was Emmanuel Mudiay’s partner-in-crime as they went toe-to-toe with Giannis, who ended the game with a casual 33 points and 19 rebounds. Knox hit five threes in the game in what was one of his more all-around games of the season.

When Knox is at his best, his catch-and-shoot game is working, the floater is working, and he’s being aggressive off the dribble. At times throughout the season, that aggression wavered. He was disinterested in games, standing in the corner for possessions at a time. Part of that is on him and the fact that he needs to be more assertive and part of that is how Fizdale uses him. Sometimes he is played at the four, other times at the three which is where he is more comfortable. When at power forward, Knox lacks the physicality to handle to bigger players in the league.

The biggest area of concern is his lack of passing. Out of the 75 games he played, Knox had five assists in only one game. Even as a forward on a Knicks team that heavily struggles with putting the ball in the basket, the passing must become an asset for him rather than a liability. On the season, he only averaged 1.1 assists. Even though passing is the biggest area of concern, it isn’t the most immediate need for improvement. Knox needs to focus on being able to put the ball in the basket.

It’s still very early in his career so Knox can still make a turnaround, but at the moment fans and the front office should be carefully watching the first round pick to see if he can make something out of a nothing season and a full offseason to train.

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On top of the on the court improvement, Knox needs to make sure his mental toughness is fortified. If Kevin Durant doesn’t sign in July, it makes it absolutely necessary. He will once again be in the driver’s seat on a roster that has been stripped down to the ground. With the first-round pick label, he has to step up or else he will end up as a person who used to play for the Knicks.