GREENBURGH, NY — It’s been a while since New York could be considered a good landing spot for a prospect. In fact, the last spring in which that was probably true—June of 1999—Kevin Knox was months away from being born, and Allan Houston was about to make his first All-Star Game wearing the Knicks’ No. 20 jersey.
Almost 19 years later, a new wing is donning that same jersey, and he could very well grow into this new era’s Houston.
Following years of despair stemming from lopsided trades and ugly contracts, New York may finally be on the come-up, and Knox could be one of the final pieces of a young core that can take the Knicks out of the darkness. In this 6’9” wing, New York has yet another raw, exciting talent that it can develop into an NBA starter, and a player that will benefit from the tutelage of coach David Fizdale.
Some would say Knox, who has drawn inspiration from watching Kevin Durant dominate the league ever since he left Texas, needs to find the assassin’s mentality which Durant has showcased in his two straight Finals MVP performances, and Fizdale is the perfect coach to bring that out of him.
Over the course of his pre-draft workouts, Knox was knocked around and it’s only made him stronger. Down in Miami, he battled JaKarr Sampson—one of the league’s more physical players—one-on-one, and slowly built his confidence throughout the game. For the Knicks, he chose to work out in a group of six to prove he can not only survive in chippy environments, but he can thrive in them.
“You see a lot of top guys in the top-10 lottery do solo workouts but I decided, in the beginning, I want to do group workouts,” Knox said Friday. “I wanted to compete. I wanted to go at people. I wanted to show people what I’ve really been working on. That’s the mentality I had going into summer, to try and do group workouts, to do 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 and stuff like that.”
And for the Knicks, while they stress they’d never select a player based solely on one workout, seeing Knox scrap on the floor only made them fall in love with him more.
“He really responded well to the physicality,” said Fizdale. “That was I would say our best workout out of all the workouts we had. You’re talking about physical, guys hitting the floor. There were possessions where a guy turns the ball over, chases the other guy down, block a dunk at the rim. No one was giving an inch in that workout. The fact that he shined in that workout says a lot about him.”
If that’s the way he grew in just a few short months, it’s tantalizing to consider where he could be after just a year of working with Fizdale, who’s known for turning players into warriors on the floor. It’s also important to consider how young Knox is; over the offseason, after hitting the gym, he’d hop right on his gaming console at night for a few hours of Fortnite. He’s just a kid, and his mental makeup is still very much taking shape. With Fizdale and a host of promising assistants committed to player development in the fold, the Knicks could be looking forward to a future with a 20-point scorer on their hands, and perhaps even one who can feed off chippiness and sink teams like Durant, who Knox looks forward to facing soon.