GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Knicks head coach David Fizdale isn't setting modest expectations for Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson.
The first-year coach says Kentucky's Knox has the potential to be similar to Celtics rookie small forward Jayson Tatum, while unproven big man Robinson can emulate Rockets standout Clint Capela. Both Tatum and Capela played key roles for their teams during their respective runs to the conference finals.
'We all like the way that kid [Tatum]'s looking up in Boston right now and I'm not putting that kind of pressure on this kid [Knox] to be him, but when you have that kind of skill set, that height at that athleticism, you can see him being a very productive player," Fizdale said of Knox, who was officially introduced at the Knicks' training facility with Robinson.
Fizdale took several Knicks players, including Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson, and Emmanuel Mudiay, to watch Tatum and the Celtics play in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Tatum, the one-and-done from Duke, emerged during Boston's run as one of the most exciting young players in the NBA, and the Knicks would love for Knox to turn out similarly down the road. He is only 18 now.
The Knicks chose the 6-foot-9 Knox at No. 9 in Thursday's Draft, spurning the more experienced Mikal Bridges of Villanova and Missouri's Michael Porter Jr., who potentially has a bigger upside.
"Right from the beginning, this kid wanted to be a Knick," Fizdale said of Knox. "And I can relate to that because I'm crazy enough, I asked to be a Knick. To ask for that, you have to be a certain type of competitor but you also have to understand that there's a history involved and there's something great on the other side if you work."
Knox said his goal is to start at the small forward spot for the Knicks, and Fizdale said he could potentially play ahead of Tim Hardaway Jr. or Courtney Lee because he's taller than those players.
"They're both 6-5 and he's gotta guard LeBron [James] and [Kevin] Durant and those are the threes in our league so I feel there's a very good opportunity there for him to have a chance to start," Fizdale said.
Still, Fizdale said Knox fits in well with the position-less trend of Kentucky's John Calipari and the NBA.
"His body of work and his skill set says it," Fizdale said. "It translates. He can shoot the ball, he finishes well around the rim, he runs the floor well, he knows how to get to spots on the floor. Guys that are natural scorers that stuff translates."
"He's just going to be a heck of a basketball player that I'm going to put in every position on the court," he added.
Knox averaged 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting just 34 percent from beyond the arc. Fizdale believes Knox will improve his three-point stroke in the NBA.
"It's going to come with repetition of just being out there in the deep water swimming long enough," he said. "His fundamentals are fantastic. Some of his percentage was taking tough shots. Some of it is taking shots maybe where ehe wasn't ready to shoot, but I'm going to try to make him very comfortable of where his shots are coming from early, really getting him good in those areas first and then building out from there."
Knox said he's already been working on his stroke.
'Yeah, that will improve a lot," Knox said. "It's something I worked on all summer. It's something I prepared for and will continue to keep working on it. But I think it shouldn't be a factor for me."
As for the 7-1 Robinson, who never played in college and has been training the past season, Fizdale never saw him play live in the McDonald's All-American Game or the Jordan Brand Classic in April 2017 -- the last competitive games he played in.
Yet he has watched film and sees him as a Capela-type, who can run the floor and be active in the paint.
"I've watched the film, impressive," Fizdale said of Robinson, the No. 36 pick. "If you watch it you see what Scott [Perry] and those guys saw in him. His timing is incredible, he has a great motor, he's super long. He has that instinct that Capela has, he really does. If everybody had it, they'd all do it. And this kid was doing it from a very young age. We'll give him a defined role like a Capela-type guy and then start building his game from there."