Kevin Knox – Kentucky
CPP Big Board Ranking: #12 Overall (#3 SF)
Weight: 213 lbs
Age/Birthday: 18 (8/11/99)
Hometown: Tampa, FL
High School: Tampa Catholic
(Brett Siegel – 3/7/18)
Without Kevin Knox, Kentucky would have probably had the worst season under Coach Calipari ever! Entering the SEC Tournament, Kevin Knox leads the Wildcats in scoring and is one of their “go-to-guys” when they need to score. Knox has established himself as a dominant offensive player for Kentucky this season and has caused a lot of miss-matches for opposing teams. His measurements are definitely something that a lot of NBA scouts covet. He stands about 6’9”, has a long wingspan of 7-feet, and has a standing reach of just under 8’11”. His size and stature gives Knox a lot of potential to develop into a great two-way player at the next level, with the right coaching of course. In the 2017 ESPN 100, Kevin Knox ranked 10th and second in the nation for his position. In this year’s draft class, there are not many wing-players who have the size and ability to get to the low-post that Knox has, making him projected to go somewhere between picks 10-20. Kentucky has a tradition of having lottery players in the draft and Knox should not be an exception! His skills are something that cannot be overlooked and is definitely one of the stronger players offensively coming out of college to the NBA!
Strengths: As stated earlier, Kevin Knox’s size and measurements definitely play to his advantage as a future NBA wing. His ability to stand over defenders and rise up over them on his shot allows him to see the rim better and without much contestion. In the NBA, with longer and taller players, Knox will not be able to “rise-up” over some of his opponents, but the size he possesses is still a “pro” for his game as a whole. For a larger wing player, Kevin Knox runs the floor really well. Knox loves to run in transition and is a very dangerous, athletic player when running free. He has had a lot of success running in transition this season, along with Hamidou Diallo and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and often times, is not too selfish with the ball. If his teammate is open, he will dish it out to them, otherwise he will go hard to the rim and tends to draw a lot of fouls. Using his size to his advantage, Knox is able to bully smaller players in the paint and get to the rim with ease. His footwork when backing down defenders shows no immediate issues and his decision making with his back to the hoop is above average. If the only shot he has is going to be a weak fadeaway, Knox will usually reset and pass the ball out of the low-post.
Another big strength for Kevin Knox is his confidence. The way he handles himself on the court is very calm and he very rarely shows a lot of emotion. He is a very composed player and does not try to overplay his abilities. Knox knows what shots he likes and, although can be “trigger happy” at times, takes every shot with a lot of confidence. There have been multiple occasions this season where I have watched Knox take a weird looking jumper and I say to myself when the ball is in the air, “why did he just take that shot,” and then it goes in, and I just shrug it off. Creating space for himself to take jump-shots is not a problem for Knox and he looks comfortable on a wing in an isolation-type set. When Knox gets going, he can be a very elite scorer. He has scored 20+ points 9 times this season, and if Kentucky is to advance in the NCAA Tournament this season, Knox will have to be an elite scorer.
Weaknesses: Even though Kevin Knox can be a prolific scorer, he seems to struggle with his jump-shot at times and uses his speed and quickness to bail him out. Without his size, Knox would be an average shooter and has some mechanical issues with his release. Nothing that is too concerning, but something that will need to be addressed by his future NBA team. His decision making with his shot selection is also something that is questioned at times. Knox settles for a lot of contested mid-range jumpers beyond the free-throw line when he fails to find his teammates. This may be a direct correlation to his young age (Knox is only 18 years old) and his tendency to revert back to a “highschool” like basketball mindset.
When Knox is matched up with opponents who play up to his physicality, Kevin Knox seems to get bullied at times and struggles to get to the paint. In these instances, Knox can also be pretty turnover bound and sloppy. As a result, Knox tends to play down from his potential and can get frustrated from his lack of success. He can be very successful running in transition and running loose, but needs to learn when to use his speed and elusiveness to his advantage. Knox can get out of control sometimes and usually turns the ball over at this point. Again, I see this as a lack of maturity and development moving up to the next level of basketball, but not a major red flag moving forward.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: A little bit of Rudy Gay, more like Tobias Harris
Kevin Knox shows a lot of skill-sets and tendencies that remind me of a young Rudy Gay, but I do not think he will be as good and consistent as Gay has been over his tenure. Knox is slightly more lengthy than Rudy Gay is, but is not as bulky and strong. As a draft prospect, Gay was profiled as a transition-scorer with a lot of upside as an athletic wing player. Knox is drawing similar comparisons in this way as a result of his athletic ability to explode in transition and running the court. Knox has the potential to turn into a great wing player like Rudy Gay has been, but I personally see more Tobias Harris in Kevin Knox.
Tobias Harris has the same measurements as Knox does now, but again, is much stronger and bigger muscle wise. Harris entered the 2011 NBA Draft at 18 years old, much like Kevin Knox is about to do and both average similar numbers in college. Knox currently averages about 16 PPG, 5 RPG, and shoots about 45% from the field. At Tennessee, Harris averaged about 15 PPG, 7 RPG, and shot about 46% from the field. Knox is slightly more explosive in the open-court than Tobias Harris, but in a set-offense, both players possess very similar attributes.
Overall, Kevin Knox will definitely be a first-round pick in this year’s draft and will have some work do to moving forward. He has proven he is mainly a threat on the offensive end, but has the potential to develop into a solid two-way player in the NBA. Knox’s physicality and toughness is something lots of NBA teams need and are looking for in players that can stretch the floor and something Knox does not lack on. With no major flaws or problems in his game, Kevin Knox is a coveted prospect and should continue Kentucky’s trend of lottery picks in the NBA Draft!
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