John Calipari, who coached Kevin Knox during his time at Kentucky, spoke at length about the Knicks' second-year pro on Tuesday about his adjustment to the NBA, his work ethic, and more.
Calipari, who announced Tuesday that, through The Calipari Foundation, he would be donating groceries to 400 families during the coronavirus pandemic, also implored the Knicks to not give up on Knox too soon.
On the adjustment period for Knox given his age
"He was so young. Some guys are even younger than their chronological age, which is young. And guess what? He's one of those. He was the youngest player in that draft. And he was learning about himself. And I come back to: you've got to conquer yourself before you can conquer anybody else. Being in that league, I've never heard him complain one time. How about that? That he's accepting, 'I'm responsible for me. I am what my stats say I am. I'm responsible. And I've got a ways to go.'"
On his work ethic and what the Knicks need to do
"No one is going to work harder. He's one of the great kids of all time, from a great family. It's going to take time. What you don't want to do -- and teams have done this in that league -- they give up on a young, young player too soon. And now all of a sudden, the guy comes back and they look and the whole thing in New York will be, 'Well what if we had him? We gave him away. We should have held on longer. Why did we do that?'
"Young guys take longer to develop, especially when they're big. And guys with his size and his skill, the game is going to him. In other words, if you're long, if you're lanky, if you're a basketball player, if you can shoot it -- shooting has become a premium in the NBA. If you can't shoot it, it's hard to become significant guy, or the No. 1 or No. 2 guy. You've got to be No. 3, 4 or 5 if you can't shoot. That's easy because in the NBA, over time, what happens is, guys shoot the ball better. they shoot it better. and i would expect, most guys I've seen in the NBA, they improve their shooting."
What to expect going forward
"What you saw in glimpses in his first year and even glimpses in his last year, and glimpses in the summer, it's in there. Now that maturity of consistency, and most of that is not just your physical consistency, it's your mental consistency. You can't force that. A lot of times, it comes on its own terms. But when you've got what he has -- the talent and what I see in him and what I know of him, I've not lost any faith in him because I knew he was going to struggle.
"And let me leave you with one thought: the only way you're going to achieve the kind of success you're going to achieve is you're going to have some failure. And if you really want to achieve at a high level you're going to probably have to fail greatly. And you think of all the players who have gone through that league that have had to learn about themselves. And I can, with all of the great ones that learned this early and it changed who they were as a player.
"Those guys, though, came in as seniors. They were 21, 22, 23 years old. He walks in as an 18-year-old. you've got to remember that. Those guys in that stage were not coming out as freshmen. They were coming out as juniors or seniors in college. I think he's going to be fine. I think it's going to be a dogfight. I'm happy that Julius (Randle) is with him to show him to fight, fight for everything you want. I'm happy that Julius is standing beside him. I think they have some good pieces. And Kevin's got to work his way to be that guy on that team."