David Fizdale hopes to take the New York Knicks in a new direction and Kevin Knox fits the bill for the player he’s looking for.
The New York Knicks are receiving a super-talented player with a ton of upside in Kevin Knox. The swingman from Kentucky wasn’t always the clear-cut choice, but on draft day, there didn’t seem to be much anticipation.
Sure, Mikal Bridges was the odds-on favorite for the past few months, but as the pick drew nearer, Knox was no surprise.
He even may have tipped his hand in an interview on Hot 97. When asked about the team he said, “We got a new coach—they got a new coach.” He said “we” in reference to the Knicks. There’s no grand conspiracy here, but it’s clear that the feelings of attraction were mutual. For better or worse, the Knicks got their guy.
Kevin Knox while talking about the Knicks slips up and says "we got a new coach … they got a new coach." pic.twitter.com/1GvHK0WJFD
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) June 21, 2018
Knicks Fans Had To Boo
Knicks fans react to their No. 9 selection of Kevin Knox ? pic.twitter.com/k9CEc2ROEu
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) June 22, 2018
You can’t put too many Knicks fans in the same room. When they’re all together they must feel the need to boo no matter what.
Of course, Michael Porter Jr. was still on the board and if healthy, he could be a superstar in the league. But the fact that 12 other teams besides the Knicks passed on Porter tell you that maybe there is something amiss with his health. To be clear, I really hope not. It would be really awesome to see him succeed in Denver, but the reaction from Knicks fans in the building was an overreaction.
That being said, this definitely is not the reaction of the fanbase at large. Most Knicks fans are rational enough to let things play out for Knox. But the larger narrative that most in the media love to push is that the Knicks hated their pick. It’s an old and tired narrative.
Clearly, Kevin Knox has already moved past this narrative. He’s ready to prove the doubters wrong.
Kevin Knox: “They booed Porzingis (on draft night) and look where he is now. That's the same mindset I'm going to have. They can chant Michael Porter all they want. But they got Kevin Knox, and I'm willing to work and I'm willing to get better.”
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 22, 2018
Love the attitude from Knox and even better, Knox is ready for the uphill battle that the Knicks face in the years ahead. He knows their in rebuild mode, but he’s a guy that can kickstart that rebuild.
Prior to the draft, Knox spoke about what his mindset would be like if drafted by the Knicks. He told Adam Zagoria of SNY:
“Oh yeah, I would be real patient,” he said. “But I’m going to go in there with a competitive mindset, go in there and try to give it my hardest and try and get a starting job. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I’ll be patient with the coaches.”
Fizdale's Kind Of Player
It sounds like this pick had a lot to do with David Fizdale and the rugged style of play he hopes to bring back to Madison Square Garden. Knicks general manager Scott Perry told Ian Begley of ESPN that he thinks Knox’s size and athleticism are going to mesh well with Fizdale’s style of play.
Knicks president of basketball operations Steve Mills echoed the same sentiment to Begley. Mills mentioned Knox’s ability to compete in a group workout. With this pick, we’re beginning to get a clearer picture of the team that David Fizdale hopes to put together.
A physical, hard-nosed style with guys that can play multiple positions and—hopefully—guard multiple positions as well. It’s no surprise that Fizdale is a Pat Riley disciple. Perhaps Knox will be one of the guys to help Fizdale reach the same level of success that Riley had in New York. Perhaps, they’ll go even further than Riley ever could at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza.
Knox will have the opportunity to take on a huge role next season. The team will be without Kristaps Porzingis for a majority of the year—if not all of it. They are desperately looking for someone to step in and take a more assertive role.
Tim Hardaway Jr. can help with some of that, but he’s not a true No. 1 option. If Knox can come in and take some of the weight off of THJ’s shoulders. Knox can attack the paint with his length and athleticism. He’s likely to be further along on the offensive end than he is on the defensive end.
But his willingness to compete combined with Fizdale’s commitment to defense could be key in his development on the defensive end. His length and athleticism will go a long way on that end of the floor as well.
Bottomline, the Knicks desperately needed an athletic wing. Knox looks like he could be made for that role. It’s always smart to take the best player available—especially when you’re a rebuilding team like the Knickerbockers—but in this case, Knox may be the best available and he fits a need.
As we know, the draft is anything but a sure thing, but there’s more than a few reasons for Knicks fans to be optimistic. If nothing else, Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier is sure to have a fun time creating rhymes and alliteration with Knox’s name.