Trae Young Outduels Banged-Up Kevin Knox, but Knicks Beat Hawks

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2018

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 07:  Emmanuel Mudiay #1 of the New York Knicks drives against Jeremy Lin #7 of the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on November 7, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 34 points and Enes Kanter had a double-double, leading the New York Knicks to a 112-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.

The win snaps a two-game losing streak for the Knicks, who won on the back on a 35-point third quarter. Hardaway scored 27 of his 34 points in the second half. 

Those who were hoping for an epic clash of lottery picks were sorely disappointed, as Kevin Knox and Trae Young turned in subpar performances. Knox missed all six of his shots in a scoreless nine-minute outing, while Young sputtered his way to 15 points and eight assists on 6-of-19 shooting. 

        

Trae Young's Inconsistency Will Cost Him in ROY Race

Young entered Wednesday's game with three straight double-doubles and four consecutive solid performances. Then he laid an egg, going scoreless in a silent first half during which he took an uncharacteristic three shots. 

Young was far more aggressive after the break, but he needed 16 shots to get his 15 second-half points. He's made only three of his last 23 shots from three-point range and is veering dangerously close to bad-shooter territory. The counting stats are there, as they will be all season. The Hawks lack proven talent, so they're giving Young carte blanche to be the Oklahoma version of himself.

However, Young isn't effective enough yet at what he does to play winning basketball. His passing will keep him from becoming too much of a net negative, but he has Steph Curry's shooting tendencies with Swaggy P-esque accuracy at this point.

Young can score against NBA defenders, which should quash any concerns about him flaming out. He tries harder than advertised on defense as well, though it's never going to be a strength of his. 

But when sizing up the Rookie of the Year race, Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton are more consistent on a night-to-night basis. Doncic looks like a seasoned pro, which makes sense given his background playing against pros in Europe. Ayton is dominating inside offensively and is staying within himself.

There's a non-zero chance Young puts it all together and becomes the best player in this year's draft class. Just don't let the counting stats fool you—he's a clear step or two behind Doncic and Ayton right now. 

       

Kevin Knox Not Ready for Center Stage With Knicks

On one hand, Knox is in the midst of coming back from an ankle sprain that cost him a few weeks.

On the other, he did not look like an NBA player when he was on the floor against one of the league's worst teams Wednesday.

Knox clanged shots, missed defensive rotations and recorded only one assist and a turnover in his nine minutes. 

The hype train for Knox was at full freight following his stellar summer-league play. He looked like a superstar in the making, someone who teams—perhaps even the Hawks—would regret passing up.

The on-court results, while limited, have shown Knox is much closer to the project some thought he'd be coming into the NBA rather than the star he looked like over the summer.

Head coach David Fizdale said he planned on giving Knox more burn Wednesday than the five minutes he received against the Chicago Bulls on Monday. However, Knox then played himself off the floor.

Until Kristaps Porzingis returns, the Knicks should throw Knox into the deep end and let him sink or swim. Limiting him to nine minutes because his shots aren't falling isn't going to do him any favors. 

       

What's Next?

The Knicks have two days off before playing the Raptors in Toronto. The Hawks host the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

       

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