GREENBURGH, NY — New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis reached out to rookie Kevin Knox shortly after New York drafted him with the ninth overall pick on Thursday night. One of the topics covered during their conversation?
Getting booed by Knicks fans on draft night.
Knox, like Porzingis, heard some boos from Knicks fans who attended the draft at Barclays Center on Thursday. Porzingis also heard vociferous boos from New York fans when he was selected fourth overall in the 2015 draft.
“He asked me how the fans reacted and I told him I got the same amount of boos as you got,” said Knox, who appeared to get a much tamer reaction from the crowd than Porzingis did two years ago. “….He just laughed and he said, ‘It’s all motivation and fuel to the fire.’ He said, ‘Just work. Sooner or later they’ll be cheering for you.'”
The Knicks certainly hope that Knox, an 18-year-old forward from Kentucky, can earn the kind of support from Knicks fans that Porzingis, an All-Star, has enjoyed early in his career.
The club hosted Knox and second-round pick Mitchell Robinson during an introductory news conference on Friday.
Head coach David Fizdale said Knox will have an opportunity to earn a starting role at small forward in his first season.
“Yeah, I’m looking at our roster right now, absolutely. Who’s our starting 3?” Fizdale said.
“They’re both 6-6, 6-5, and he’s going to have to guard LeBron [James]. Those are the 3s in our league,” Fizdale said. “I feel like there’s an opportunity for him to have a chance to start.”
Knicks president Steve Mills and Scott Perry both said that the club’s player development program — and Fizdale’s coaching staff specifically — gave them confidence that Knox and Robinson could succeed in New York.
Robinson, who was selected with the 36th pick in the second round, didn’t play college basketball last season. The 7-1 center reportedly committed to Texas A&M and transferred to Western Kentucky but never attended the school. He instead spent the year training for the NBA.
Perry said he had observed Robinson’s elite athleticism during his high school career. He added that the organization was comfortable with Robinson’s decision to train for the NBA rather than attend college.
“The young man is dedicated to the game,” Perry said. “We know he wants this; he knows the decision he made, a conscious decision he made, to go about that path [to the NBA].”