New York Knicks forward Kevin Knox has taken a step back in his sophomore season. Let’s take a closer look at his overall performance.
Nobody thought Knox was NBA ready during his rookie season. Even his staunchest defenders must admit they’ve been concerned at some of the things they’ve seen from Knox.
According to Basketball-Reference, since they started recording box plus-minus for the 1973-74 season, only two players have notched a lower BPM during their first two seasons than Knox: all-time bust Michael Olowokandi and some dude named Anthony Avent.
Here are some highlights of the Kandi Man. I took a detour to look at them after I went through the finder. Thus, I thought you should take a look at them too.
Knox’s astronomically low effective field goal percentage also happens to be making history. Of the 36 players from his draft class to log 1,000 minutes, Knox is last in eFG% by a wide margin. Not good for a shooter.
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Conversely, Knox is one of the only two rookies in franchise history to make 100 or more three-point field goals in a season.
Part of that is the recent uptick in the three-point shooting in the NBA (Tim Hardaway Jr. is the other), but Knox was supposed to be a shooter, and he came into the league firing. You must give him credit for that.
That’s part of why Knox’s offensive regression has been so stunning this season. His point total, rebound total, and shooting percentages have all decreased.
Part of Knox’s regression must have to do with his demotion in the rotation. Interim head coach Mike Miller preferred veterans like Reggie Bullock and Bobby Portis. After leading the team in minutes as a rookie, Knox is now eighth.
The kid needs some consistent playing time.
A sign of Knox’s lost confidence was his continued dip in free-throw shooting. He shot free throws at a 77.4% clip in his one year of college and went from a subpar 71.7% as a rookie to a brutal 65.3% as a sophomore.
Knox has settled into the role of a spot-up shooter early in his career (his career three-point attempt rate is 42.8%). He needs to start attacking the rim more.
According to NBA Stats, rookie Knox averaged 5.4 drives per game (39.7%) and led the Knicks in points percentage. Sophomore Knox is currently averaging just 2.5 drives per game and only converting on 32.2% of his attempts.
Rookie Knox showed potential when it came to finishing in transition, finishing in the 50th percentile but dipped to the 38th percentile in 2019-20. Rookie Knox averaged 1.9 fast break points per game, and sophomore Knox averaged a whopping 0.8.
Rookie Knox made 35% of his triples overall while making 39.4% of his wide-open attempts, 37.5% of his corner threes, and 34% of his catch and shoot attempts from downtown.
In an abbreviated sophomore season, Knox made 32.7% of his threes overall, 33.3% of his wide-open shots, 25% of his corner threes, and 31.3% of his catch and shoot threes.
Knox shot the ball with more confidence as a 19-year-old rookie than he did this past year.
Let’s talk about Knox’s defense. More specifically, March 12, 2019.
It should’ve been a great night for Knox. He snapped a brutal 4-for-21 stretch from three-point range with a 4-for-5 night from downtown and finished the game having dropped 16 points.
But like most nights during the 2018-19 season, the Knicks lost, and Knox was lit up on defense. On this night, it was by Indiana Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic.
According to NBA Stats, Bogdanovic recorded six of his nine field goals while matched up with the rookie.
In Knox’s defense, DeAndre Jordan looks about as interested in protecting the rim as I would be with a professional basketball player barreling towards me.
Knox is exceptionally skilled but struggles most of all against shooters coming off screens and keeping track of his man off the ball.
Usually, we’d chalk that up to rookie problems, but Knox has struggled with the same issues in his sophomore season.
Knox matches up with Matisse Thybulle and a 76ers employee in the stands seems to distract him.
In a game against Indiana, he loses Doug McDermott and finds himself caught up on a Domantas Sabonis screen.
An area where Knox did improve this season is shot-blocking.
After an embarrassing 10 blocks while at Kentucky, he only notched 24 in his rookie campaign.
This season, despite the decrease in minutes, he beat that total out with 28. He’s additionally had some good bouts of one-on-one defense this season.
Check out this video of him going head-to-head with Cedi Osman and Jordan Clarkson.
Once a screener becomes involved, though, it’s typically “lights out.”
But we forget that Knox fell to the ninth overall pick for a reason. He was supposed to struggle. Draft experts agreed the youngster was a work in progress.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman predicted Knox would be ready for a starting role after three years “after becoming a sharper scorer and capable defender.”
Simply speaking, that’s far from happening.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor said Knox was “a raw forward with the requisite athletic traits to be a go-to scorer if he puts it all together.” Knox is a young athletic guy with potential who hasn’t put it together yet.
We’ve seen this movie before in the NBA. Knox appears to be a hard worker despite the constant criticism of his motor.
Knox hasn’t played enough to know what he is yet, but he’s still too young for the Knicks to give up on him. There’s enough potential to be excited about what could happen for him under a new coach next season.
All statistics are pulled from Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted and are accurate as of March 30th, 2020.