Why Kenny Payne is an important hire: Kevin Knox’s development
The hire of Kenny Payne will bring plenty of speculation about the NBA stars he has helped develop while coaching at Kentucky. Let all of the rumors about Payne helping New York to recruit players like Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns begin.
While some will be distracted by the splashy headlines, don’t overlook the importance of Payne’s role in developing players already on the Knicks’ roster. We talked about Mitchell Robinson earlier.
The most obvious player who is set to gain from having the former Kentucky assistant along the sideline everyday is Kevin Knox. The 2018 lottery pick has a strong relationship with Payne from his time playing at Kentucky. Perhaps the two working together in New York can unleash some magic at the NBA level.
Payne recently told the New York Post that he still believes Knox can thrive with the right people around him.
"“I think a new staff comes in and can evaluate what the kid is and tell him what he needs him to do,’’ Payne told The Post in a phone interview. “He’s starting with a clean slate. There’s no prejudging of who he is. He can go out and feel comfortable and do the things to help the team win. I think he’s coming back with a new and different fire. With a little adversity, you can attain greatness. And he’s been through it.”"
Since leaving Kentucky, Knox had an up-and-mostly-down rookie campaign where it was trial by fire on many nights. Whatever positives could be taken from Year 1 seemed completely lost in his sophomore campaign. Knox shot a dismal 35.9% from the field and several advanced metrics place him as one of the worst players in basketball.
Knox just turned 21 on the day of Payne’s hiring becoming official. While still extremely young, the former lottery pick needs to develop from a young player trying to find his way into an asset the Knicks can count on in their lineup or as a trade piece down the road. Time is ticking before his rookie contract runs up. Hopefully, Payne can help mature Knox into a productive player.