With the best lottery odds locked up and the offseason looming, the Knicks are hoping to snag a morale win over the playoff-bound Houston Rockets.
With four games remaining in the 2018–19 season, the New York Knicks (15-63) are looking to the future, where their most important offseason in franchise history looms. For now, they have to worry about the game ahead, a Friday night matchup on the road against the Houston Rockets (51-28).
After an early season lull, including an 11-14 start in the team’s first 25 games, the Rockets quickly regained their status as one of the top teams in the league, thanks to MVP hopeful James Harden. Harden is in the midst of a statistical masterpiece this season, averaging 36.3 points, 7.5 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. These gaudy numbers kept Houston afloat as backcourt teammate Chris Paul dealt with injuries.
The likes of Damyean Dotson, Lance Thomas, and even recent G League call-up Billy Garrett get one last chance to wrangle Harden on the defensive end this season.
Aside from Harden, it’ll be interesting to see if the Rockets attempt to win this game right away, then hand it over to the likes of Danuel House, Gary Clark, and Austin Rivers to allow the rest of the roster to rest.
Kevin Knox, slowly figuring it out
If you were to say Kevin Knox has been the worst player in the NBA, I wouldn’t argue against it.
The eighth overall pick in the 2019 draft has struggled on both sides of the ball outside of a decent month in December. Look at any set of numbers, basic or advanced, and you see Knox struggling.
However, Knox just completed his best month, perhaps offering a glimpse into his future as New York looks to improve its roster.
In 14 games in March, Knox averaged 12.9 points and 3.4 rebounds, shooting 41% from the floor. It wasn’t ideal, but knocking down 43% of his threes is something. His 11 steals were a season-high for a month, while his 17 turnovers were a season low. Things are turning around for Knox, after struggling for most of the season.
Labeled a small forward, the six-foot-nine Knox just might be a power forward, and one who could space the floor off the catch. There are other details in Knox’s game that need to be figured out—overall impact outside of scoring, ability to score off the pick-and-roll and defense—but if he can space the floor, it’s a decent start.
The history of the NBA is littered with players who dominate the league at the tail end of the season with nothing to play for, so there is a hesitance to say Knox has figured it out, but the steps are being made.
Tonight’s contest against Houston is scheduled to tip off at 8:00 p.m ET.
UPDATE: 1:03 p.m. ET.
All four points—Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., and Kadeem Allen—are out against Houston on Friday. Mario Hezonja, who started at power forward in Orlando, will start at point guard versus the Rockets, per NorthJersey’s Chris Iseman.
WATCH: TKW Highlights: Mario Hezonja and Kevin Knox vs. Magic