What does Kenny Wooten actually provide to the New York Knicks?
Kenny Wooten is already a fan favorite in New York and he hasn’t touched the hardwood at Madison Square Garden yet. His athletic ability not only has the New York Knicks captivated, but supporters chomping at the bit to watch him go out and perform. That said, when push comes to shove, is this actually going to be a beneficial move or is this just to fill a few more seats to distract from a losing team?
From what we know about Wooten, he’s a 21-year-old, 6’8 forward from the University of Oregon. He’s a freak athlete, registering over a 40-inch vertical, which factors into him being such a defensive force. At Oregon, he was selected to the PAC 12 All-Defensive team twice and it’s translated to the G-League.
He averaged 3.4 blocks over 23 games for the Westchester Knicks and has shown good defensive rotation when he’s switched onto. Whether it’s a guard attacking the basket, or a center backing him down in the paint, his versatility from a pure size and athletic standpoint allows him to hold his own and disrupt a lot of shots. His only defensive drawback is that he averaged 2.7 fouls a night for Westchester which is something the Knicks already deal with enough when it comes to their big men.
On the offensive side of the ball, Wooten isn’t going to come in and shoot the lights out. In fact, he’s only ever attempted two-three pointers in college and hasn’t attempted a three in Westchester. That’s a key contributor in his poor floor spacing and doesn’t make him incredibly suited for a half-court setting unless you use the pick-and-roll.
Once again, due to his raw athleticism, his ability to roll to the basket and finish even the most errant of passes is quite good. He finishes a lot of marquee dunks and athletic plays that remind me of Derrick Jones Jr. but outside of that, he doesn’t offer much offensively. He doesn’t have much of a post-game and can’t stretch his scoring outside of the paint where a lot of his points come from. As a result of that, a lot of his opportunities come right under the basket where he collects a miss and uses his athletic ability to create another chance.
This is why he’s been able to average two offensive rebounds a game in the G-League which is so valuable to any ball club, but sometimes, second-chance opportunities result in fouls, which result in free-throws. Coming into the league, Wooten will be known as a 57 percent shooter from the charity stripe in Westchester and a 63 percent free-throw shooter from his two years at Oregon.
Overall, Wooten has some upside. He can become a shot-blocking, high flying piece that proves valuable off the bench for the Knicks, but as of right now, I think this is more hype for his athletic ability than anything. He’s only 21 though and I think he can find his footing in the NBA. With some development on the offensive side of the ball, maybe a post-game and at least a respectable three-point shot, he can prove to be a great asset for them.
He’s excited to make his Knicks debut and I hope he makes me eat my words once he hits the floor to makes his first appearance in the NBA.