School: William & Mary
Height/Weight: 6’10, 235 lbs.
Nathan Knight is an athletic big who is quite versatile at the college level. He has good hops and can make some emphatic dunks whether it is off a drive to the basket once he gets separation with his handle or if he is rolling off of a pick.
The strength from Knight is the first thing that draws you into his game. He utilizes it in a variety of ways in the game and not just in the post on defense. Often, you’ll see him easily winning the positioning battle against defenders because of that sheer strength. He has a very strong base and great hands to be able to catch any post pass coming his way. His touch around the rim is also very soft.
That touch applies to his use with both hands. It certainly feels like he has increased his finishing around the rim each year he has played at William & Mary and that is largely due to his work to finish with either hand.
The strength is also showcased but his fundamentally sound rebounding tactics. He is so great at boxing out every time the ball goes up. Not often will you see him being a lazy player on the defensive boards and offensive rebounds are scarce for the opponents because of that fact.
Let’s go back to the handle that I had brought up because it’s at an NBA level for a big. He keeps it tight to his body and seems to be comfortable crossing over to his right at any time. Knight loves to use a good jab step to make it even tougher for the defender to guess which direction he is attacking. Once he gets into the lane, he’s extremely crafty for a big man.
While Nathan Knight has shown the ability to stretch the floor more and more as his career at William & Mary has progressed, he simply hasn’t been able to produce a consistent jump shot. The form isn’t too bad might I add, but he just needs to prove to teams in his senior season that he can go a full year shooting the ball well from deep.
Knight doesn’t seem to have a great second jump which has led to him being ineffective at protecting the rim. His post defense is quite good, but if he can’t protect the rim then he can’t be a center at all at the next level. (I personally didn’t see him as that either) What that means though is that he will need to slim down and convert himself into someone who can effectively operate from the wing. He has shown promise there, but he’ll need to do more than that during his NBA Draft workouts.
The perimeter defense from Nathan is quite concerning. He will often get beat by players with a quick first step. He doesn’t have the quickest feet and that causes major problems on switches. Slimming down can help with this, but he still has to fundamentally work on his footwork on defense as he doesn’t always find himself squared with the player attacking the basket.
Passing is another concern for him. Not necessarily the ability, but the willingness. He is the clear go to player for the team, but it won’t be that way to begin in the NBA. Being willing to pass instead of passing when it is the last resort will be a big thing for Knight as he transitions to professional basketball.
Just how good can Nathan Knight become? He has the size, strength, and has started to show some versatility offensively. He’ll have to work on making his jump shot consistent, but there’s so much promise in Knight’s game.
I envision him being a fringe 2nd round pick in this year’s draft and I believe, in the right system, he can find a long term home in the NBA if he can work on his defensive fundamentals and become reliable from deep. It’ll take time, but Nathan Knight is certainly a prospect that can outplay his value. His draft value will greatly depend on how he performs at PIT (if he decides to go) and in his team workouts.