LOS ANGELES — As the Knicks limp into the final stretch of the season, heading for the NBA Draft Lottery, the task remains a simple one: Develop the young players on the team to have them ready for what the franchise imagines will be better days ahead.
The largest focus has been on three rookies who have been handed huge roles and allowed to learn on the job. Second-round pick Mitchell Robinson has become a fan favorite, blocking shots at a prolific rate, and undrafted Allonzo Trier has emerged as a scoring threat off the bench, but Kevin Knox has found himself struggling.
Although his combined 6-for-28 shooting in the last two games may have brought the problem into focus, Knox has not shot 50 percent from the floor in a game for six weeks. While it may be part of the learning curve for a 19-year-old rookie, it isn’t exactly reassuring to the Knicks, who are counting on their most recent lottery pick to fit with the next one.
“Yeah, it’s tough. But I’m never going to get too high, never get too low,” Knox said. “My confidence is going to stay high. I’m going to keep shooting, keep getting in the gym, keep working.
“I knew it was something coming into this season I was going to go through a lot. I knew I was going to struggle. I knew I was going to have some times I’d play really well, some times I’d play bad. I’ve just got to be able to stay up, keep working hard. I’m never going to get down on myself. I’m always going to keep going out there, keep playing, keep shooting, keep doing the things I need to do to win.”
Coach David Fizdale pointed out that with 62 games down in the schedule, Knox already has gone through the equivalent of two college seasons after playing one season at Kentucky.
Knox, who is playing nearly 30 minutes per game, admitted that there is soreness and fatigue at times. But he believes that getting the chance to play these minutes and have his coach live with his tough times will help him in the future.
“Yeah, it’s good. Fizdale does a really good job,” Knox said. “He’s going to let us play through our mistakes . . . If you don’t have it going, he’s going to let us keep playing, see if we can get out of that little slump. Like I said, he has a lot of confidence in us. A lot of coaches don’t have that. A lot of coaches might yank you after the first couple shots don’t go in. He has a lot of confidence in us young guys to go out there and just keep shooting, keep playing hard, just try and get to our shots.”