Nathan Knight is a senior center from William and Mary. Knight tested the NBA waters last year but decided to come back for one more year to improve his game. The mid-major big man is one of the best at the college level, but will that translate over to the NBA?
Nathan Knight 2020 NBA Draft Profile
Nathan Knight has been a double-double machine in college. He finished this past season with 23 double-doubles, the most in the CAA and second-most in the country. He became the second player in conference history to be named both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year this season. Knight was also named the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Year. This is also the second-straight year that he is a finalist for the Center of the Year award.
Knight averaged 20.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game this season. For his career, he averaged 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. The 6’10 big man from Syracuse, NY was even more dominant in advanced statistics. He averaged 41.1 points and 20.9 rebounds per game over 100 possessions. In Knight’s junior season, he became the first player since Tim Duncan to average 20 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocks per game. That is some pretty great company.
As was briefly touched on, Knight’s biggest strength is his rebounding ability. His rebounding totals increased each year while in college. He never takes possessions off, boxing out and fighting for every missed shot. His 7’2 wingspan gives him length over most opponents.
Knight is also a very skilled passer for a big. His career average for assists is 2.1 per game, but his career-best was 3.5 assists per game during his junior season. For his career, he also assisted on 18.2 percent of his teammates’ field goals. Knight’s ability to find an open man, especially when he faced double-teams, made it harder for teams to defend him.
Finally, Knight defends the paint at a high level. He was a member of the CAA All-Defensive team multiple times in his career, as well as earning the Defensive Player of the Year award this season. At times, he made highlight-reel blocks, forcing opposing players to think twice about taking the ball into the paint. That kind of shot-blocking ability translates well in the NBA.
While Knight defends the paint well, the rest of his defensive game needs improvement. Positionless basketball at the next level means every guy on the court has to be able to defend anyone. Knight is still slow on his feet at times and struggles to guard anyone who is quicker than him on the perimeter.
Compounding on Knight’s quickness issues are his foul issues. Like most players, when you get beat off the dribble, you often foul to make up for it. If he can work on improving his footwork in situations where he is not the fastest player, this should help with his foul problems. You cannot properly fill your role on a team if you cannot stay on the court.
Finally, Knight needs to develop a three-point shot. The big man did not need to have one for William and Mary, but it is a necessity in the NBA. Nearly every center or forward has some kind of touch from behind the arc these days. If he can continue to work on his jump shot, he can round out his offensive game and make himself more of a threat.
NBA Player Comparison
Clint Capela. Like Knight, Capela mainly operates around the rim on offense. The Atlanta Hawks center rebounds at a high level and finishes when he gets the ball inside. This is the kind of role Knight can fill if given an opportunity.
NBA Draft Projection
Late second round to undrafted.