Kevin Knox’s development was cut short by the NBA shutdown. It’s unclear where he fits in with the New York Knicks.
For Kevin Knox, the sophomore slump was real. After an up-and-down rookie season, Knox saw his minutes cut and his role diminished in year two with the New York Knicks. Per Marc Berman of the New York Post, Knicks president Leon Rose is unsure of how Knox fits into the team’s future.
“According to a source, Rose still doesn’t know what to make of Knox and doesn’t know if the 20-year-old is part of their future,” Berman wrote.
Berman also notes that John Calipari, Knox’s college coach and a close friend of Rose’s, is vouching for the lanky forward. The NBA’s current hiatus robbed Knox of an opportunity to finish his season on a bright note.
Unfortunately, his scoring average was cut in half from 12.8 points per game as a rookie to 6.4 in year two. For now, the Tampa native will have to wait and see what his future holds.
The “Big Three” of the Young Core
Although the Knicks brought in a slew of veterans in free agency last summer, at their core, they are still a very young team. Three straight years—and soon to be four—with a top-10 pick will do that to a team. Beyond the first-rounders taken, the Knicks have done a solid job snagging talent in the second round.
But among the Knicks’ young core, there are three players who rise above the rest—a “big three” if you will. RJ Barrett‘s rookie season had its fair share of frustration, but it also came with a few major high points. The coldblooded bucket he hit to beat James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and the Houston Rockets in Madison Square Garden stands out.
He’s the young guy with the most potential on the team by far. A dominant wing who can handle the ball is invaluable in the NBA right now. Should Barrett improve his outside shooting, he can develop into a perennial All-Star.
The other young Knick with All-Star potential is a little taller than Barrett. There are definitely some holes in Mitchell Robinson‘s game, but he could develop into one of the best centers in basketball if he continues to improve.
All-Star Games are only the start of what Robinson can accomplish. If he kicks his habit of picking up cheap fouls, he could be the first Knick to win Defensive Player of the Year since Tyson Chandler in 2013. Those are lofty goals for sure, but the sky is the limit for Robinson.
Frank Ntilikina might not ever develop into an All-Star in the NBA, but he’s shown that he’s a player who can contribute to winning in the right situation. The 2019 FIBA World Cup suggested that Ntilikina just needed stability around him in order to thrive. Elite defense is automatic for the Frenchman and his offense tends to flourish when he has a consistent role.
Ian Begley of SNY previously reported that Rose isn’t going to “shop” Ntilikina which would indicate that the combo guard has a long-term future with the team. He’s not a player that the Knicks are going to build around, but he’s a solid complementary piece to have around guys like Barrett and Robinson.
Also, since he’s never posted eye-popping numbers, the Knicks might be able to sign him to a reasonable contract extension. That would help keep the team’s books clear for 2021 while still keeping a team-first guy in the mix.
Those three guys—Barrett, Robinson, Ntilikina—all seem to be fairly safe, but the recent buzz around Donovan Mitchell is a reminder that there are no truly untouchable players on the roster. Knox falls somewhere below this group amongst the rest of the misfit Knicks.
Allonzo Trier fell out of favor after emerging as an undrafted rookie in 2018-19. New York’s second-round pick in 2017, Damyean Dotson, showed flashes when given consistent minutes, but he’s been in and out of the rotation for the better part of three years. Ignas Brazdeikis, another second-round choice, spent his 2019-20 season developing in Westchester.
The Knicks have no shortage of young players, but there is a “big three” who seem to be in Rose’s vision for the future. The rest of the guys, including Knox, are still waiting to see how they might fit in.
Finally, there’s going to be a few fresh faces joining this group. The Knicks have their own lottery pick, plus a late first-rounder from the Los Angeles Clippers and an early second-round pick from the Charlotte Hornets.
The Rose-era Knicks will begin to take shape over the next few months. Unfortunately, it’s unclear how and if Kevin Knox fits into the equation.