On second night of back-to-back, the Knicks look to pick up a third straight win against the Phoenix Suns amid Kevin Knox’s steady rise in productivity.
Under first-year head coach Igor Kokosov, the 6-24 Phoenix Suns own the worst record in the NBA and have been an absolute dumpster fire, despite some promising young and talented pieces. The Suns are non-competitive in a loaded Western Conference and have their sights set on next year’s draft lottery and will be likely vying with the Knicks to snag the number-one overall selection.
Putrid record aside, Phoenix has been on a bit of a roll lately, seeking their third straight win. The Suns have a decent collection of capable veteran players (Jamal Crawford, Ryan Anderson) mixed with a core of young, budding studs that they accumulated high up in the draft over the past few years of being a lottery team. Devin Booker is the unquestioned best player on the Suns and is most likely to give the Knicks problems tonight with his marksman like shooting and eye opening athleticism. Booker has missed six games recently due to injury and his return has instilled life back into the Suns. The 22-year-old is on the verge of being a star and looks to put that on display tonight at MSG.
Booker’s running mate T.J. Warren is another guy the Knicks have to be wary of, as Warren is one of the better scorers you never hear discussed in the basketball world. The NC State product is averaging 18.1 points per game and nearly 45 percent from behind the arc. So far this season, Booker and Warren have accounted for 40 percent of the Suns’ offense, so if you’re the Knicks slowing down Phoenix starts with these two.
Rounding out the Suns rotation are lottery picks Deandre Ayton, who as been as good as advertised this year and Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson, two exceptionally talented athletes who can shoot and play defense.
(*The two newest Suns, Austin Rivers and Kelly Oubre, Jr. will most likely not be available tonight.)
Knox on a Roll
Scoring over 15 points in each of his past four games, Kevin Knox has seemingly found his groove and looks much more comfortable offensively. With New York missing Allonzo Trier and possibly Damyean Dotson, there is a void needed to be filled in terms of offensive productivity and Knox has the prime opportunity to shoulder more of the scoring load this evening.
Surprisingly, Phoenix ranks in the top 10 in the NBA is both opponents three-pointers made as well as percentage, so Kevin will have his work cut out for him. Consistency and stability is what we want to see from the rookie, so expect him to get the opportunity to continue his stellar showing. Knox will likely be in the starting lineup tonight due to the absence of some perimeter players.
Knox for three, get this kid some help geez. (Kidding but also not really) pic.twitter.com/9RYiO3bEuJ
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 17, 2018
What to Expect From Frank?
With the return of Trey Burke from injury, Frank Ntilikina has seen his minutes bumped back down over the last few games. The French Prince has played very well since his benching and dazzled with his passing last night, despite a relatively unimpressive box score. Frank has the opportunity to make his presence felt beyond the box score again with his perimeter defense. As mentioned previously, the Suns have some very good three-point shooters in Devin Booker and T.J. Warren, so it will be imperative to be able to keep those guys in check. Frank’s defensive prowess in the amount of minutes he plays will go a long way in stopping the Suns perimeter offense and forcing them into bad shots.
Offensively, look for Frank to be more aggressive tonight, as he only attempted four shots in 18 minutes last game.
Expect tonight’s game to be entertaining, but filled with a lot of mistakes since both teams are so young and essentially growing on the fly. If New York is able to keep the two leading scorers Booker and Warren to a minimum in the point department, there will be positive outcome for the Knicks faithful.