Our 2021-22 Atlanta Hawks Player Review series continues with a look at the season of forward Kevin Knox.
Despite entering the league with lottery pick pedigree, Kevin Knox has had to fight for his role from the very onset of his career. Standing in at 6’7” and 215-lbs. with terrifying rim attack potential coming out of college, Knox was seen as prospect with an NBA-ready body that just needed a touch of player development to unlock his potential as a two-way wing. Surely his college career spent at the basketball factory that is the Kentucky Wildcats program would springboard him to a long and fruitful NBA career.
Sadly for him, he would quickly be proved overmatched at the next level despite his size and physical gifts, and he could never develop the needed basketball skills or spatial awareness to become a franchise building block.
The New York Knicks elected not to build around their 2018 #8 overall pick after toiling around the fringe of the game day rotation for three and a half seasons, their front office made him available to move teams via trade.
With the Atlanta Hawks looking to shake up their roster a bit to jumpstart their season midway through the year, Cam Reddish was also made available after asking for a trade before the season.
And thus a trade framework was born.
The centerpiece of the return was a protected 2022 1st round pick, which was Charlotte’s original pick with protections. The pick was protected top-18 in 2022, meaning it will not convey this draft due to the Hornets’ lottery finish, but the Hawks have three more seasons with less stringent protections to hold the asset until it turns into two second round picks if it doesn’t convey by 2025.
Knox was seen as a throw-in of the trade that sent Cam Reddish and Solomon Hill – who was already ruled out for the season with an Achilles injury – as well as a future second round pick.
But Kevin Knox did some good things for Atlanta when his name was called upon. In a season that saw 24 people suit up for the Hawks, the team occasionally lacked healthy bodies especially at the wing and forward spots. Knox would appear in 17 contests — all off the bench — and average 2.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 6.5 minutes per appearance for Atlanta.
Knox’s strength and physicality gave him the ability to defend either forward spot, and he settled in as a cutter, rim runner in transition, and streaky spot up shooter in his short time in Atlanta.
In a game late in the season against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Knox exploded for 17 points as part of a record setting first half for the Hawks, including hitting three of his five triples he would make in his Atlanta tenure in that game alone.
Kevin Knox could theoretically be a restricted free agent after the season should the Hawks choose to offer a qualifying offer, but with a price tag of over $7 million for one season I see almost no chance in the team extending this offer for someone of his caliber as Atlanta looks to trim salary to avoid the luxury tax penalty.
Thus, unfortunately for him, I see little opportunity for him to return to the Hawks as an unrestricted free agent, and he may be without interest from all other NBA teams as well. It’s possible his basketball future resides in an overseas league or elsewhere. But having been humbled quickly, I suspect Knox will continue to fight to show he belongs in the league wherever he lands.