GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The last NBA Rookie of the Year out of Kentucky was New Jersey native Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016. Now, Knicks rookie Kevin Knox is aiming to be the latest Kentucky product to win the award.
"Yeah, I think it's definitely something that I have the chance to get," the 6-foot-9 Tampa native said Monday at Knicks' Media Day. "But winning is No. 1 on my mind right now. I don't really care about anything else right now, just trying help my teammates win, try to help myself get better and just get better throughout the year."
After averaging 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds last season under John Calipari, Knox excelled in the NBA Summer League with the Knicks. He was named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team after averaging 21.3 points. In fact, Knox remains in touch with Towns, the 7-footer with the Minnesota Timberwolves who starred at St. Joe's-Metuchen in Jersey.
"When I was at Kentucky, a lot of guys come back and play pickup with us and give us a little message and they talk to us," Knox said. "Karl-Anthony Towns, he had one of the better messages. He just said it's a long season, 82 games, you're a rookie. It's going to be a lot of bumps and bruises, ups and downs but never get to high, never get too low. He just said make sure you play healthy, and make sure you come out and play hard every night.
"I talk to him a lot. I talked to Bam [Adebayo], De'Aaron Fox, some of those guys just got to the NBA, that were rookies last year, so they kind of give me advice as well."
The Knicks are expecting big things from Knox in his rookie season, and he said his summer league performance was a confidence-builder.
"Yeah, I think I had a pretty good summer league," he said. "But that's kind of over with now, I'm just focused on the season right now. We all know summer league is different from the regular season. It's a different environment, different players that you're playing against so I'm just going with the right mentality."
Just as Calipari stressed "position-less basketball," new Knicks' coach David Fizdale does, too.
"He wants everyone to play position-less basketball, he's not going to put nobody in a box, so he stressed that message to everyone on the team, just to go out and do what you do best," Knox said.
Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, who has no timetable on a return from ACL surgery, just returned from Europe and said he hasn't seen much of Knox, but is looking forward to learning his game.
"He had some really good highlights in the summer league," Porzingis said. "I watched a little bit of the summer league and I haven't really seen him in person yet, working out or basketball-wise. Just conditioning stuff.
"But I'm looking forward to getting to know him more and seeing how he plays and how he thinks, so I can tell you more once I get a little bit more to see him."
Said Knox of meeting Porzingis for the first time: "He's a great person to talk to. He's fun, he likes to make jokes, but as we all know he's a really good player. So I'm really looking forward to getting on the court with him, learning form him, playing against him and going against him in practice. Just to learn his different moves, learn his terminology, just to be on the court with him, it will be a great experience."
While Knox is eyeing a potential Rookie of the Year Award, he says he's more focused on team goals and winning. And he can't wait to play his first NBA game at Madison Square Garden.
"I know it gets pretty crazy in there," he said, "so I'm really looking forward to stepping on the Madison Square Garden [floor] and playing in front of the fans. It's going to be a great experience.
"I worked really hard to be where I'm at now so I'm definitely ready to embrace that challenge."
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