Kevin Knox Knows He Needs a Better Finish to His Season

Howard Megdal

GREENBURGH, NY — Kevin Knox spent the summer working the only way he knows how — tirelessly, on both sides of the ball, endeavoring to improve upon a rookie season that showed promise.

He's not satisfied with the progress in Year 2, at least not yet.

"It's been a tough season," Knox told reporters after practice this week. "I'm not shooting the ball how I wanted to shoot, play how I want to play. But I'm not going to let that affect my confidence."

Kevin Knox discusses his evolution, February 11, 2020

It can be confounding at times, frankly. Knox is not only a hard worker, his shot is simply aesthetically beautiful, this rainbow arc of a three. But he hit 34.3 percent of them as a rookie, and knew that needed to get better. So far, in his sophomore campaign, that's actually down, to 32.6 percent.

"I miss a lot of open shots that I know I can make, that I've made in the past," Knox said. "I've just got to get consistent with it. It's all muscle memory."

Consistency doesn't mean makes, really. Knox said it comes down to making sure his shot remains the same from start to finish. His process of shooting, beginning to end — he said that's what separates a Klay Thompson, a Ray Allen, the kind of shooter he intends to be.

He has a checklist, one you can follow along with as you watch him, too.

"It's really just being lower, before the ball gets to me," Knox said. "So I can really just go up and explode into my shot, not fading away with my shot, holding my follow-through."

An area where Knox clearly has improved, both by the numbers and the eye test, is on the defensive end. Per Synergy, his defensive points per possession have gone from 1.03 last season to 0.958 this season. That ranks 174 of 248 players with at least 300 defensive possessions — not elite, but better than last season, when he ranked 295th of 308 such players.

Most of that improvement has come on both defending the pick-and-roll ball handler and on handoffs, both indications of the work he described putting in on lateral movement.

"I'm really just getting a lot more jabs, a lot more deflections," Knox said. "Sliding my feet. Something I've really been working on. I have the size to do it, I have the ability to do it."

It is worth remembering the context of Kevin Knox — drafted extremely young, and less than two full seasons into his NBA career.

How the next 27 games go matter quite a bit.