When he was taken ninth overall in the 2018 NBA Draft last month, it was a given that Kentucky product and newest New York Knicks small forward Kevin Knox was going to be a work in progress.
At 18 years old, there is still a good portion of his game that needs fine tuning and developing, which is common for almost every youngster making the jump to the NBA. Knicks fans have seen it with guard Frank Ntilikina, who was taken No. 8 in 2017 and still has a ton of work to do before becoming a serviceable contributor in the pros.
But after his Knicks debut in the NBA Summer League on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, Knox already started to show flashes of the kind of player he can be in the NBA.
And the early consensus is very promising.
Knox showed off his athleticism in an instant early on, recording a steal near his basket and needing just four dribbles to go the length of the floor before throwing down a powerful two-handed jam just four minutes into the game:
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) July 7, 2018
He had five dunks in total on the night, including an athletic finish on an alley-oop thrown from halfcourt by Damyean Dotson.
“He’s a freakish athlete,” Knicks head coach David Fizdale would say after the game.
That was expected from the 6-foot-9 talent, whose 22-point debut obviously has to be taken with a grain of salt considering it’s the Summer League. However, his ability to run the floor and finish with authority at the hoop is something that most NBA teams would covet in a youngster.
“It’s what the coaches want me to be from the jump — they wanted me to be able to attack the basket, get to the free throw line,” Knox said (h/t New York Post). “That’s kind of what I did. I settled myself in. I got to the free throw line… next thing I know, I was playing really well.”
Now comes the part of his game which needs to be improved.
Besides those five dunks, Knox shot just 3-of-17 from the field including a 1-of-7 showing from three-point range. His mid-range and outside shooting was his biggest knock in the pre-draft process which was the main reason why he sank to the Knicks in the first place.
But a jump shot can be developed in time. Knox’s intangibles, like his aggression to get to the basket and play around the basket can’t be. Should Fizdale live up to his billing as a player’s coach and get the most of Knox, the Knicks are looking at another “freakish” talent to line up alongside Kristaps Porzingis one day.