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Kevin Knox's game improving rapidly in first NBA season with Knicks

The Knicks rookie forward scored a career-high 31 points against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

Knicks forward Kevin Knox scored a career-high 31

Knicks forward Kevin Knox scored a career-high 31 points on Sunday against the visiting 76ers. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Boos rained down on Kevin Knox when he was selected by the New York Knicks in the 2018 NBA Draft at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. The laid-back rookie likened it to the experience of All-Star teammate Kristaps Porzingis, who was booed at the same arena by Knicks fans three years earlier and turned the boos to cheers.

Knox is repeating that feat with his performance through the first half of the season, having earned Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December.

“It was cool. That’s a great achievement,” Knox told amNewYork before last Friday's 121-106 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. “I know I still have a lot of work to do, but it was pretty cool to win that award.”

Knox credits part of his development since the start of the season to being more patient and sure of himself.

“Just slowing down, letting the game come to me,” Knox said. “Taking better shots — I mean just trying to get to my spots — be able to knock down those shots. But I think my confidence has gotten a lot better since the beginning of the season.”

Knox, who scored a career-high 31 points in Sunday's 108-105 loss to the visiting Philadelphia 76ers, raised his scoring average to 12.7 points to go along with 4.2 rebounds and 35.9 percent accuracy on 3-pointers in 27.1 minutes. He knows he has much to work on as he completes the back half of his first pro season.

“Being more consistent,” Knox said. “Defense, I think, is something big, especially for rookies coming into the league. I think that’s something I want to get better at and just get my ball handling tighter.”

Knicks head coach David Fizdale went into length late last year about the improvement of Knox.

“He’s getting better,” Fizdale told reporters in early December. “We’re watching his growth right before our eyes. Where he started struggling really early, he’s starting to see more games now where he’s putting together some solid performances. I’ve really been stressing to him rebounding and getting in the trench, and we do a lot of block out drills with him, just trying to get him used to the physicality of the league, trying to fast track
him that way. So, he’s taking it to heart and he’s starting to get the ball.”

Fizdale repeatedly has said that he believes Knox can be a big scorer in the NBA, and veteran teammate Lance Thomas sees the same qualities.

“Absolutely,” Thomas told amNewYork last Friday.  “Very versatile. Coach is big on, especially with Kevin, making sure he takes the extra dribble. There’s been times when he takes off from so far away. [When] he takes that extra dribble, instead of covering distance, he’ll actually gain height because he’s so athletic and he’ll be a better finisher.”

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