New York Knicks rookie Kevin Knox stole the show on the second day of Las Vegas Summer League

Jay Asser 18:14 08/07/2018
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Kevin Knox flies for a dunk in his first Summer League game.

The Las Vegas Summer League offers rookies a stage on which to make an eye-catching first impression, and that’s exactly what Kevin Knox did in his highlight-filled debut for the New York Knicks.

The 18-year-old, who was greeted by boos from Knicks fans when he was drafted ninth overall last month, quickly converted his detractors into believers with an impressive outing in his first game on Saturday.

Knox finished with 22 points, eight rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in New York’s 91-89 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

His 8-of-20 shooting, including 1-of-7 from beyond the arc, was nothing to write home about, but his stat line didn’t do complete justice to just how bright Knox shined.

What immediately stood out with the 6-foot-9 forward was his fluidity and smoothness, which amplified his athleticism.

Knox was often used as a small forward in his lone college season at Kentucky, but he looks like the perfect small-ball four in the NBA as someone who will greatly benefit from the increase in spacing at the next level.

His fluidity was especially noticeable in the open court, where Knox terrorised Atlanta with baskets in transition, including three dunks – one of which saw him go coast-to-coast after coming up with a steal.

Defensively, Knox displayed his ability to switch onto smaller players and contest shots on the perimeter before leaking out on the fast break.

Though he didn’t shoot efficiently from long range, his stroke looked as smooth as the rest of his game and showed a lot of promise.

“I thought it went really well, totally different from college, fast-paced, a lot of 3s,’’ Knox said of his first taste as a pro. “It was real fun. That’s what the coaches told me from the jump, to attack the basket and get to the free-throw line.”

Summer League isn’t always indicative of future success, but in Knox’s case he’s already passed the eye test with flying colours. It’s obviously too early to say just how good he can be, but it certainly looks like the Knicks have got themselves a player.

Wendell Carter Jr

He didn’t get the same buzz as fellow bigs Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr or Mohamed Bamba in the lead-up to the draft, but Wendell Carter Jr has the chance to be just as good as the players selected ahead of him, if not better.

Coming out of Duke, Carter was considered fairly polished and skilled across the board, but not elite in any one particular facet. In his Summer League debut, however, the 19-year-old centre showcased elite rim protection by swatting five shots in his 29 minutes.

He might not be adept or quick enough to keep smaller players in front of him after switching over, but it might not matter if Carter can recover to challenge shots at the basket like he did in the Chicago Bulls’ 86-81 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On the other end, he knocked down 2-of-3 triples – both from the corners – to register 16 points. Carter shot 41.3 per cent from 3 on just 46 attempts at Duke, so it’s not as if outside shooting is foreign to him, but if he can consistently be somewhat of a threat from deep in the NBA, that will open up his offensive game even more.

“In the NBA game, the court is a lot bigger than college,” Carter said, via the Chicago Tribune. “It’s one-on-one most of the time, so I am going to be able to showcase a lot more things as I get bigger, stronger.

“It’s so that no one will be able to score on me in the post. That’s what I want to get to at some point.”

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