New York Knicks Midseason Report Card: Kevin Knox Edition
Despite the win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the cold reality of a 12-32 record far better describes the reality of the New York Knicks as the second half of the season continues in earnest.
Accordingly, the growth and development of the team's young players, which readers of this space have understood is the primary measuring stick of the season, becomes even more important. Over the next few weeks, we'll look at how the trade deadline can facilitate this.
But most of all is measuring the players who are already here, young, and under team control.
So let's take a look at Kevin Knox. Earlier this season, I asked Knox about the ways he's going to measure his own progress. Here's part of what he had to say.
So the three primary ways we should be measuring Knox are as follows: ability to hit threes, first and foremost. Ability to finish at the rim, which makes him a multi-dimensional offensive threat. And ability to defend, which will keep him on the floor as a two-way player.
Here's how the report card looks right now, year-over-year.
From deep: Knox continues to take those aesthetically beautiful rainbow shots. I asked him about those and how he started with them, and he informed me it is a Knox family tradition.
However: pretty or not, they need to go in. He shot 34.3% from deep last season. He's at 33.3% this season, down slightly. And neither mark is even at the league average mark from deep of 35.4%. Moreover, his free throw percentage, just 64.2%, doesn't suggest long-term growth in his profile from deep. It's way too early to give up on it. But as what was supposed to be a carrying tool for his profile, it is concerning.
As for finishing at the rim, the data is a mixed blessing here. Overall from two, he's jumped in efficiency, from 38.7% last year to 42.4% so far this year. But he's taking fewer twos overall. That's also true around the rim, with 18.3 percent of his attempts coming inside of three feet, after 22.1 percent of them came from that distance last year. Even so, I'd mark this a win, since that's a small drop, and his percentage makes from 0-3 rose from 50% last year to 64.2 percent this year. It reflects the work Knox has done in the weight room, and hopefully for the Knicks, portends a more diverse overall game than a three-and-D player.
About that D: the numbers still aren't great, if not disastrous. His DRating was 116 last year, 114 this year. The Knicks allow slightly fewer points per possession with Knox on the floor this season. Synergy has him allowing 0.985 points per possession this season, bottom quarter of the league, but that is improved over last season's 1.03 points per possession. So the defense isn't what you'd call a reason to keep him on the floor yet, clearly, but it's becoming less of a cause to take him off.
Overall, the negative of Knox's shot from deep remaining slightly below average in accuracy takes away the shine of his other improvement. That said, if Knox finds his way up toward 40% over the season's final 38 games, this 2019-20 looks very different for him. So stay tuned.