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Friday / February 22.
  • Kentucky product Kevin Knox to start at small forward for rebuilding Knicks

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    Knicks coach David Fizdale has tabbed Kentucky product Kevin Knox to start at small forward when the season opens Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden.

    “He’s been up and down,” Fizdale said Friday following the Knicks 113-107 preseason loss to the rival Nets, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley. “I think he’s shown the ability to start in the first two games with the double-doubles. And the last three stunk. But for that position and what we’re trying to grow there, I think he’s what we want to put in that spot.”

    The 6-foot-9 Knox shot 1-for-6 with three points and two rebounds against Brooklyn. Through five preseason games, the No. 9 pick in the NBA Draft is averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 rebounds.

    Knox said he needs the preseason to adjust to the NBA speed and talent.

    “I’m glad,” he said, per Begley. “This is why the NBA put in preseason – for guys like me.”

    He added: “This is all learning for me…. As I keep playing more, get used to playing in the system, get used to playing (on) the NBA stage, Madison Square Garden, New York, I’ll get better and I’ll be able to find my rhythm.”

    Fizdale told reporters that Knox had “a 35-40 minute talk” this week with former Miami Heat star Chris Bosh, whom Fizdale helped coach in Miami.

    “He talked about his rookie year when KG [Kevin Garnett] and them were just kicking his butt and how he would never beat himself up,” Fizdale said. “He would take it, learn from it and put it into his workouts. I thought it was really great, sound advice for a guy who was a high draft pick and is expected to do a lot of things coming from another guy like that.”

    Fizdale previously has compared Knox to Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum, who had a breakout postsseaon for the Celtics last year.

    ‘We all like  the way that kid [Tatum]’s looking up in Boston right now and I’m not putting that kind of pressure on this kid [Knox] to be him, but when you have that kind of skill set, that height at that athleticism, you can see him being a very productive player,” Fizdale said during training camp.

    The Knicks chose Knox at No. 9, spurning the more experienced Mikal Bridges of Villanova and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., who potentially has a bigger upside.

    “Right from the beginning, this kid wanted to be a Knick,” Fizdale said after the draft. “And I can relate to that because I’m crazy enough, I asked to be a Knick. To ask for that, you have to be a certain type of competitor but you also have to understand that there’s a history involved and there’s something great on the other side if you work.”

    Fizdale said Knox fits in well with the position-less trend of Kentucky’s John Calipari and the NBA.

    “His body of work and his skill set says it,” Fizdale said. “It translates. He can shoot the ball, he finishes well around the rim, he runs the floor well, he knows how to get to spots on the  floor. Guys that are natural scorers that stuff translates.”

    He added: “He’s just going to be a heck of a basketball player that I’m going to put in every position on the court.”

    Knox averaged 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting just 34 percent from beyond the arc.

    Fizdale believes Knox will improve his three-point stroke in the NBA.

    “It’s going to come with repetition of just being out there in the deep water swimming long enough,” he said. “His fundamentals are fantastic. Some of his percentage was taking tough shots. Some of it is taking shots maybe where ehe wasn’t ready to shoot, but I’m going to try to make him very comfortable of where his shots are coming from early, really getting him good in those areas first and then building out from there.

    Photo: USA Today

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.