3. Become an adequate defender
Defense was already alluded to with Kevin Knox’s rebounding woes. That only marked a portion of his problems at this end of the floor, however, as he struggled mightily to be an NBA-worthy defender as a rookie.
Per NBA Advanced Stats, with Knox on the court, the New York Knicks had a 115.1 defensive rating. Without him, they were at a more reasonable 107.5 defensive rating. The difference in net rating was over 10.6, a startling contrast.
The Knicks worked through a “developmental” season and pushed their young players in longer minutes, even if this was too soon. They were thrown into the fire, but no one on the team had a worse defensive rating than Knox. In fact, it ranked in the bottom 10 of the NBA, with players like Tristan Thompson, Collin Sexton and Jamal Crawford as some of the few behind him.
Even adequate improvement as a defender would mark a turnaround for Knox. His impact was nonexistent, and the inconsistent shooting did him few favors, which, on almost any other team, lessens his role, including leaving the starting lineup.
Knox must take a step forward defensively, especially with a crowded frontcourt on board. New York has pieces capable of being an upgrade over him at this part of the court, so a positive sign, even if minuscule, is necessary as a sophomore to achieve.