How did Kevin Knox shrink? It is kind of important for Pistons

Kevin Knox II #20 of the New York Knicks (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Kevin Knox II #20 of the New York Knicks (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Somehow, the Detroit Pistons newest player, Kevin Knox, has turned into the ‘Incredible Shrinking Man’ and is now listed two inches less than in college. That lost height might be key to where Knox can play in the Pistons lineup.

Kevin Knox was a highly prized-recruit coming out of Tampa (Fla.) Catholic High. Like many of them, he chose to play at the University of Kentucky. Like many of those who play for the Wildcats, he decided to go pro after his freshman season.

Heading to the NBA was certainly the right move, financially, as he was selected No. 9 overall by the New York Knicks in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Here comes the odd part:

In high school, Knox’s height was 6-foot-8.

In his official Kentucky bio, Knox was now listed as gaining an inch, being 6-foot-9.

Yet, in the official press release announcing he signed as a free agent with the Pistons, Knox’s height is given as 6-foot-7.

Both college and the NBA said he weighed 215 pounds.

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So, in the space of four years, Kevin Knox has apparently shrunk two inches. Did he run into the old Krofft children’s show villian Dr. Shrinker?

Well, there is an explanation.

NBA cracking down on height listing

Before 2019, teams could list players pretty much any way they wanted. Some touchy smallish players were listed at 6-foot- or -1 when they probably did not reach 6-foot (Former Piston Allen Iverson comes immediately to mind).

On the flip side, center’s might add an inch or two to appear more scary to opponents. A 6-11 Dwight Howard sounds more intimidating than a 6-9 Howard.

Calvin Murphy, a star for the Houston Rockets back in the 1970s, used to put on eight pair of socks to give himself another inch of height (he was listed as 5-foot-9).

But the NBA decided to centralize the height listing rules. Starting three years ago, the league said player heights must be measured by the team doctor, and the player can not be in sneakers.

(Although Knox is still listed as 6-9 by RealGM.)

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Many NBA players lost an inch with the new rules but a lot were able to round off to where they had been always listed. But two inches is a bit more than most.

Does the fact Kevin Knox is 6-7 and not 6-9 really matter. Well, actually, it might

Where will Knox play for Detroit Pistons?

Coming out of college, the fact that Knox was a big man who was an above-average three-point shooter was a strong selling point. He had shot 34-percent on three-pointers iat Kentucky (and he is also 34% on threes in his NBA career).

But being 6-7 and only 215 pounds (although Knox does have a 6-11 wingspan) is kind of small for a power forward. As an example, Saddiq Bey, who is Detroit’s starting SMALL forward, is also listed as 6-7, 215.

Bey played some ‘4’ last year when the Pistons big men all were hurt, and he did pretty well at it. But no one thinks it is his future position. Heck, Knox is only one inch taller and wieghs five pounds less than Cade Cunningham.

So would it make sense for Kevin Knox to play small forward?

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It would come down to defense. There is big difference on most NBA teams between guarding the power and the small forward.

For an example, if playing the Boston Celtics, the ‘4’ would guard 6-10 Al Horford while, if the ‘3’, you chase around Jayson Tatum. Each player requires different skills to defend.

Coming to Detroit, Knox has a clean slate after a disappointing stop in Atlanta (and a few underwhelming seasons in New York after doing well as a rookie).

If he was 6-9, then Knox would probably be slotted automatically as a power forward. But 6-7 and 215? He is either a small-ball power forward or a small forward.

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So coach Dwane Casey will have some options once training camp starts, on how to use the ‘Incredibly Shrinking’ Kevin Knox.