From undrafted to a 10-day contract, to waivers, then to a two-way contract. Kenny Wooten has gone through quite the ride so far in his professional career. The new two-way contract is going to give him the chance to prove he can stick in the big leagues, but how many big men will he have to fight through to get there?
First things first, back at Oregon, Wooten was known as a defensive force. His rim-protecting ability was second to none in the NCAA. He terrorized opposing guards whenever they drove inside and then he made life difficult for any big that he guarded in the post. On the offensive end, he was more so a putback and rim-runner type of big, which would explain the points per game averages hanging around six points.
Now, here we are with the Westchester Knicks. Wooten still has the same type of defensive abilities. He’s been wreaking havoc in the G League as he’s the total blocks leader and is averaging 3.6 blocks per game. The advanced stats are also in his favor with an 8.8 DBPM, 103 defensive rating, and 20.0 player efficiency rating.
His work on the glass has been big for the Knicks as well. Per 36 minutes, Wooten is averaging 11 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 5.3 blocks. He’s contributing in a big way without having to dominate the ball on the offensive end.
So, even though he inked a new contract, what exactly is keeping him from signing a full big leagues contract? Well, we haven’t talked about his offensive abilities that much for a reason.
Wooten only takes a little over four field goal attempts per game. Very few of those are actual jumpers, and none of them are threes. His ability to finish through contact isn’t great, and his tendencies to get to the free-throw line, as well as make free throws, aren’t good.
Combine all of that with the fact that the New York Knicks are loaded with power forwards and big men, and you have your reason why Wooten isn’t already on the team. If I had to make a comparison, I’d say Kenny Wooten is a Nerlens Noel or Willie Cauley-Stein type of player. He’ll provide some great defensive assistance off of the bench, but you should never expect some amazing offensive performance.
Big blocks, catching lobs, and putbacks on the offensive glass will be all the types of highlights you’ll see. They’ll probably be spectacular too with Wooten’s crazy athleticism. To make it even better, he’s probably the best fit alongside lineups with wing or guard scorers like RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, and Dennis Smith Jr. since he won’t demand the ball. This could be a very nice role player to keep around in New York.