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David Fizdale sees progress for Kevin Knox coming off bench for Knicks

Kevin Knox II of the Knicks steals the

Kevin Knox II of the Knicks steals the ball during the third quarter against Thaddeus Young of the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

While the Knicks consider the shuffling to the starting lineup, one name that has not come into play is Kevin Knox.

Knox started more games than any other player on the Knicks roster last season as a rookie, starting 57 of the 75 games he played. While starting the last 54 games of the season he also was the Knicks leading scorer in that span, averaging 14.2 points per game.

But this season, with the arrival of rookie RJ Barrett and free agent Marcus Morris he has taken on a new role — coming off the bench in all 12 games entering Saturday night. His minutes have dropped from 28.8 to 22.8, shots have gone from 12.2 per game to 7.4 and his scoring has dropped to 9.9 points per game.

Still, Knicks coach David Fizdale thinks it’s going well and he might have a point. Knox’s shooting percentage has jumped from 37 percent overall to 42.7 and his three-point shooting is at 44.7 after shooting just 34.3 percent last year.

“He’s getting better,” Fizdale said. “He’s just flying below the radar I think. He’s just doing his job and slowly but surely he’s just getting better and better and more efficient, really getting a grasp for what the league is. 

“He’s doing better things defensively. He’s pursuing more rebounds. He’s blocking more shots. So, I know a lot of attention is going towards RJ, but Kevin is just kind of steadily moving along. I’m really happy with the way he’s progressing.”

Fizdale said that coming off the bench might actually be the reason for the improvement.

“Yeah, I’m sure. As you guys know it’s a tough place to be thrown right into the mix,” Fizdale said. “And last year was not a good team. We had to go through our lumps and he was the guy who was getting all of the attention. That’s a lot to ask of a 19 year old in that scenario. But I thought he handled it with class and he came every day to try to get better and I really thought he did get better. “

Also in reserve

Mitchell Robinson was replaced in the starting lineup by Taj Gibson when he suffered a concussion in Detroit last week and although he returned with a solid effort Thursday, scoring 16 points with eight rebounds, Fizdale said he will stick with Gibson for now.

“We talked about it, but I think right now, Mitch had a heck of a game coming off the bench,” Fizdale said. “We’ve got two wins with Taj Gibson in the starting lineup. Right now that’s what we’re going to stay with.”

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