New York Knicks: Kevin Knox needs to show growth at Summer League

Kevin Knox, New York Knicks (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Kevin Knox, New York Knicks (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images) /

Kevin Knox is entering his second straight NBA Summer League with expectations that stretch beyond his scoring. He will need to show flashes of leadership in Las Vegas for the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks will begin their 2019 NBA Summer League schedule in Las Vegas on Friday against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. As the spotlight will be on this year’s top NBA draft pick and New York’s R.J. Barrett, it will be even more critical for second-year player Kevin Knox.

Knox was a pleasant surprise last summer during his Las Vegas debut leading the entire league in scoring and dominating opponents. His hype and legend quickly began building with every electric highlight and basket leading to almost impossible expectations before the regular season started in October.

The former Kentucky Wildcat wing player earned All-NBA Summer League first team honors last year averaging 21.3 points per game. The Knicks didn’t win the tournament title, but Knox began the regular season with a target on his back and along with injuries stumbled out of the gate. The efficient scoring and smooth moves to the basket were halted due to better competition from seasoned veterans during the season.

As the new crop of Knicks enters their first summer league which will include Barrett and fellow draft pick Ignas Brazdeikis, Knox will be looked upon to provide quick leadership with proven teammates Allonzo Trier and Mitchell Robinson. Knox will not need to rely on his stats this time around as the more significant impact will be meshing with the new players and forming a chemistry that can carry over to the regular season.

The leadership won’t be just on the court but off it as well since it’s the first professional life experience for both draft picks. Knox has already played against Barrett in their past high school days, so there is a familiarity as he explained during an interview before June’s draft.

"“That’s my guy — I played against him a couple of times in high school,’’ Knox said. “He’s a great player. If I can get a chance to play with him, it would be a great opportunity.If we get the opportunity [to be teammates], I think we’d jell really well, He’s a great player. He can pass well, score the ball well. I think we’d complement each other.’’"

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The Knicks are a very young team and have a weird luxury of having half the main roster available during the summer league. It’s a great way to form early team bonding and mix a cohesive young culture with proven veterans in the fall.