Kevin Knox stole the show in Las Vegas, immediately wowing his new Knicks teammates with his shot-making prowess and athleticism in the NBA’s summer league. The team’s other rookie, raw big man Mitchell Robinson, has stood out in fall workouts, drawing through-the-roof praise from potential starting point guard Trey Burke.
How impressive has Robinson been? Burke compared the 7-foot-1 second-round pick, who spent the year before the draft training instead of going to college, to a thin Shaquille O’Neal, of all players.
“I got a chance to play with him in open gym, and I was shocked a little bit,” Burke said Monday at media day at the MSG Training Center. “His ability to just get a rebound off of the rim, just go right back up and just dunk it, it reminded me of like a young — and this is high praise — it reminded me of like a young Shaquille O’Neal, just skinnier.
“Me seeing a rookie do that, I was like, man, this kid can be great.”
Like Knox, the 20-year-old Robinson impressed in Las Vegas, averaging 13 points, 10.2 rebounds and four blocks per game. Knox was one of the best players out there, notching 21.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and has only raised expectations since, talking about his desire to reach the playoffs as a rookie. Knox continued to speak boldly on Monday, reiterating his belief the rebuilding Knicks can be a surprise team this season.
“One of my personal goals is to win — that’s really the only thing that’s been on my mind all summer,” said the 6-9, one-and-done wing out of Kentucky. “It’s going to be on my mind the whole season. Just to get better as a player, get better as a team, get to learn everyone on the team, and my ultimate goal right now is to win and get as many wins as possible.”
Knox, the ninth-overall pick in the draft, is tied for the third-best odds to win NBA Rookie of the Year at +750, according to OddsShark.com. He believes it’s “obviously” an honor he has a “chance” to win. But it’s a distant second to his top mission: winning.
“I don’t really care about anything else,” said Knox, 19.
His teammates liked to hear that confidence, many of them repeating Knox’s belief the Knicks will be a surprise this season. As much as his skill set, Knox earned himself early respect with such bravado.
“A rookie coming out and saying, ‘I want to make the playoffs,’ that shows me a lot,” Enes Kanter said.
“The potential is definitely there. His ceiling is very high,” Burke said of Knox. “But I don’t think everyone realizes how much Mitchell is going to bring to this team.”
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