(First posted at RealGM)
Kevin Knox, II was the 10th-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class.
Through the first 14 games of the season, the six-foot-nine big wing has averaged 17.6 points per 40 minutes on 50.6% effective shooting and 22.8% usage-rate.
His role on the team is as a shot maker who relies on his teammates and the offense to get him in a position to take good shots, given he hasn’t had the chance to run pick-and-roll or isolate against his man regularly.
Although he does post up a smaller matchup every once in a while, his touches are mostly coming with him spotting up on the weak-side, coming to the ball for dribble hand-offs and curling around pindown screens.
His 15.0 PER is a cause for concern regarding his ability to make a tangible impact in the game other than scoring, though.
His 215-pound frame and six-foot-11 wingspan make him suited to play as a big on smaller lineups but Kentucky rarely plays that way, so Knox has been a wing defender for the most the part.
He’s proven himself agile enough to guard out in space in the perimeter and attentive enough to execute the scheme as a help-defender. But for someone with his physical traits, Knox hasn’t created many events, posting low steal and block rates and grabbing defensive rebounds at an average rate.
He’s ranked 10th in ESPN’s top 100.
Knox has a fluid release and decent touch, always getting a high arc in his shot. He is a good open-shot set shooter at this point of his development.
But he struggles letting the ball go from the same point on every attempt, especially with an opponent running at him. And although he takes some shots on the move, Knox doesn’t necessarily have the quickest trigger. He hasn’t had trouble getting shots off in college but the contests figure to be more effective in the pros.
Still needing to improve in these areas to become a more sound and dynamic enough shooter for the types of shots he takes, Knox has nailed just 33.3% of his 63 three-point attempts this season, at a pace of 5.6 such attempts per 40 minutes. He’s also hit just 70.9% of his 55 foul shots.
Off the bounce, Knox has shown smooth-looking one-dribble pull-ups coming to the ball for dribble hand-offs or off an escape dribble and rising up off hang dribbles and crossovers in isolation.
But he’s shown a strong preference for floaters off jump-stops when he’s needed to drive at his man with multiple dribbles. His touch is OK but these looks are often more challenging, as he hit his 61 two-point jumpers at a 39.3% clip.
Knox doesn’t have an explosive first step and isn’t very fast with the ball. He is also yet to show a particularly diverse arsenal of moves to shake his man off balance and get all the way to the rim on craftiness – taking just 23.9% of his shots at the basket and averaging 4.8 foul shots per 40 minutes, though it’s fair to point out Kentucky doesn’t offer a very well spaced floor.
But Knox has long strides and it’s hard to contain his momentum forward because of his 215-pound frame. When he does manage to get deep penetration, Knox uses his length very well to over-extend and finish over length launching just outside the restricted area – converting 68.6% of his looks at the basket, despite not being an explosive leaper off one foot in traffic.
He is an adequate passer on the move, able to make simple kick-outs and drop-offs against the defense collapsing to him – assisting on 10.6% of Kentucky’s scores over his 463 minutes, but nothing more than that just yet.
Knox has been a solid individual defender in college. He can slide laterally multiple times in a stance to stay attached in isolation and although he doesn’t use his strength to contain penetration, he does a nice job of guarding with one of his arms up to leverage his eight-foot-10 standing reach into walling off the opponent.
Knox is not suited to defend pick-and-rolls at the point of attack, though. He does work to go over the screen but doesn’t have the quick reaction necessary to hurry back to his man and try making plays as a trailer.
So while he might be an asset to pick up smaller players on switches on the fly, Knox doesn’t project as someone who can cross match and defend these types of players for entire possessions.
As a weak-side defender, he is proven himself attentive enough to pick up the roll man and has shown good instincts rotating in help defense to crowd the area near the basket and use his length to challenge shots.
He also puts in the effort to run shooters off the three-point line and his length, combined with that effort, has made his closeouts effective. Subsequently, he’s shown lateral quickness to stay attached off the bounce.
But Knox is yet to show much of a knack for making plays in the passing lanes and transforming his timing rotations to the basket into blocks. His 15.5% defensive rebounding rate isn’t particularly impressive either.
As a result of not creating that many events, despite being a solid individual defender and team defender, his defensive rating is third worst on the team among rotation players.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara