When he was Troy Weaver’s GM Detroit Pistons Agreeing to a two-year contract with former #9 overall pick Kevin Knox II on the first day of free agency, expectations for Weaver’s latest attempt at reclamation were low.
Certainly, Knox has shown promise in his rookie season with New York Knicks He averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game but was only 37% from the field overall and 34% from behind the 3-point line. Furthermore, Knox would find his numbers and playing time decreasing each year thereafter.
Ultimately, Knox will be traded to Atlanta Hawksas he was still unable to find any foothold in the league, before becoming a free agent last season and coming to Motor City.
While the 6-foot-7 forward averages 6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, he does so on 48% of the field overall and 38% from behind the 3-point line. Knox’s current 65% from two-point range would be the best of his career.
It’s important to take a quick look at those stats in the 19 consecutive games Knox has played as points jumped to 7.7 and rebounds to 3 per game while shooting 54% from the field overall and 45% from behind the 3-point line. .
Former No. 10 recruit (via ESPN) in the class of 2017 (Marvin Bagley III was No. 1) is taking advantage of the opportunity created by the injury to Isaiah Livers (No. 75 in that class) and simply being outplayed by Hamidou Diallo. Let’s take a look at how Knox has contributed to each end of the Pistons arena.
For now, Knox is exactly the role the Pistons need from him on the offensive end. The former Kentucky Wildcat clears open catch and shooting opportunities when created as well as being a good tackler, offensive rebounder and ball mover.
Not only does Knox make these positive contributions on the offensive end but he also does so without the negatives. His shooting efficiency has already been mentioned but he also limits his turnover. Knox has the second-lowest turnover per 100 possessions outside of friend Bay out of all the Pistons’ rotational players (not including Isaiah Livers who only played seven games). The Knox have four games on Wednesday night vs 76ers But that should be seen as an anomaly because he only has one more game in this 19 game with more than a turnover and nine games without a single. All of this combines to yield the top five offensive rankings for every 100 possessions on the team (via basketballreference.com).
To stress before we continue, this is an important role for the team and one that Knox has fulfilled well so far this season. With that said, it’s always important to look for areas of growth for a young player like Knox.
The three-point shooting and shooting efficiency was nice to see but Knox can continue to increase his overall value if he continues to develop this shooting into transition (something we saw on Tuesday night vs. the Jazz) and off screens.
The Knox has a good push float in the 5-10-foot area of the fairway, but their all-out offensive lockouts would also be a nice improvement on the offensive end. If the shooting continued, it would become more and more difficult for him to fire imaginary and attack. Being able to convert those into points on the track or drive and create chances for teammates would be a huge compliment.
While Knox is nowhere near elite, or perhaps even good, on the defensive end, he has fared much better than expected. The Pistons are terrible defensively, so anything positive tends to stick, but Knox makes his presence felt simply by being active, engaging, communicating, and making multiple efforts at this end of the field.
It seems that if there’s ever a chance of getting a 50-50 ball, he’s the one currently making it. His 2.6 rebounds (steals + blocks) per 100 possessions is second only to Killian Hayes among non-seniors (excluding Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, and Marvin Bagley III) and his 8.3 rebounds (offensive and defensive) per 100 possessions is first among all rotation if players You exclude these same players.
Much like on the offensive end, Knox is simply filling the role required of him on the defensive end of the court. As these stats show, he’s active and engaged with the ball and aggressively looking for it when the opportunity presents itself. All of this also put Knox in the top 5 on the team in the Defensive Per 100 possession rating (via basketballreference.com)
The biggest hit (no pun intended, Kyle Metz) on Knox as a defender would be on point offense. This isn’t due to a lack of effort, but he simply doesn’t have the speed to stay in front of really good NBA perimeter players consistently. Raising it to the “4” position is a reasonable idea but at 6-foot-7 and 215 lbs. He may not stop guarding the volume he is required to.
Contract and seal
Kevin Knox has signed a very reasonable contract that pays him three million dollars this season and he has a club option for the same amount next season. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why the Pistons wouldn’t choose this option based on what we’ve seen so far. While there is reason to believe that improving the wing forward position will be a focus this season for Weaver, and he has the means to improve it through draft picks and cap space, Knox is beginning to make his claim to at least be part of that conversation.
Can the 23-year-old maintain this level of three-point shooting, avoid fouls, and deliver the same level of energy and involvement defensively for an entire season? If so, it would be a huge step in his career. If he can do that as well as add some of the discussed offensive value and improve at the point of attack defensively, you’re now looking at a legitimate wing-forward rotation that would provide tremendous value going forward for this organisation.