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Why Arkansas-Pine Bluff Alum Martaveous McKnight Is A Potential Diamond In The Rough

Dakota Schmidt looks over Martaveous McKnight stands as a potential diamond in the rough

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of this weekend, a cavalcade of ballers laced their sneakers inside the Quest MultiSport Facility in Chicago, Illinois to compete in the 2019 NBA G League Player Invitational. The festivities kicked off on Friday where the players that signed for the event on the G League’s official site competed in a series of workouts and scrimmages. For those prospects, their ultimate goal was to get invited back for Saturday and Sunday to play alongside the guys that were actually invited by the G League itself.

One of the prospects that was actually invited to the Player Invitational was former Arkansas-Pine Bluff guard Martaveous McKnight. For regular Ridiculous Upside readers, that name should be familiar as he was one of the prospects featured in a piece entitled “Nine Most Intriguing G League Player Invitational Participants”. Although that article gave a brief overview of what made the former SWAC prospect interesting, it didn’t really right to have analysis on his overall play on the court limited to a single 150 word blurb.

That idea came to mind after taking a deeper dive into his work last year against high/mid-major schools like San Diego State, Colorado State and 2019 NCAA Tournament runner-up Texas Tech. Against those three schools, McKnight either looked either at the same level or better against the competition that he was matched up against. This was especially evident on the offensive end as he put up 32.3 points and 7 rebounds on 48% from the field and 52% from beyond the arc on 8.3 attempts during that three game stretch.

Although you can argue against that production on the accounts of small sample size while bringing up his awful performance against Cincinnati, it’s still impressive to see those numbers from a prospect that was playing in a small JuCo just 18 months prior. That remarkable play during those three non-conference was largely due to the 6’5 guard having a well-rounded offensive arsenal that allows him to score in multiple ways.

His versatile nature is obviously evident when you watch him play as McKnight can shine as a perimeter or mid-range threat, off-ball cuts, on-ball drives and posting up. Along with allowing him to look like a star during that trifecta of non-conference games, that arsenal allowed him to shine over the course of his senior season as he averaged 20.8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.5 steals on 44% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc on 6 attempts per game. Those numbers pushed the SWAC to put the young guard on their All-Conference First Team.

As evident in those numbers, a lot of the Arkansas-Pine Bluff alum’s success on the offensive end came through his fantastic work as a mid-range or perimeter. Working from beyond the arc was probably his best trait as McKnight showed tremendous confidence in his ability to nail those long-range bombs. His courage was greatly exemplified through how he utilizes dribble moves like step-backs and crossovers to get his defender off-balanced before putting up a jumper. His approach is seen in the clip below as he uses some solid dribble moves to lull the Colorado State defender to sleep before nailing a smooth step-back jumper.

In addition to being a solid off-the-dribble threat, McKnight also has success through shooting off the catch. Within Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s scheme, a lot of his work in this area came through standing on one side of the court and waiting for the pass rather than working through screens to get to his spot. Although his work in this area seems limited to a single method, the young guard is solid as he’s quick with being able to retrieve a pass and quickly fire off a shot. That speed is likely due to his shooting stroke which is quick and has a high release point.

Currently, being a solid perimeter and mid-range shooter clearly stands as his go-to offensive method with all the other areas standing in the rear-view mirror. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t score in other areas as the guard is capable of contributing through the low-post, making driving to the rim and making off-ball cuts.

Among those three traits, McKnight’s work as an on-ball driver probably stands on the top. Currently, he mostly seems comfortable driving to the rim with his right hand. With that hand, he’s capable of shining through having a quick first-step and being able to finish in traffic despite a skinnier 190 pound frame. Even if he doesn’t finish successfully, those drives can still be beneficial as those drives led to frequent trips to the charity stripe as the former SWAC great averaged 6.2 free throw attempts per game as a senior.

Another area where McKnight shows some promise is as a post-up threat. Able to work on both the left and right block, that optimism simply comes from a beautiful fadeaway jumper that he uses while backing down on the opposition. An example of that is seen in the clip below as the young guard puts up a nifty jumper over the head of the Texas Tech defender.

Although his current strengths and weaknesses on the offensive end are clear, you really can’t say the same thing with his work on the other end of the court. That’s largely due to the fact that Arkansas-Pine Bluff ran different methods of zone defensive sets from 1-3-1, 2-3 or 3-2 . This predicament makes it really hard to judge how effectively he can defend an opposing ball-handler.

However, McKnight definitely works his tail off on this end of the court as he does a nice job working in the passing being a menace in the rare times he’s asked to defend against an opposing player.

After spending the final two years in college playing with a relatively unknown SWAC team in Arkansas-Pine Bluff, McKnight will likely start his pro career as an overlooked player. That’s a shame as the 6’5 guard is a solid player that’s able to shine on the offensive end through mixing a fantastic jumper with bits of low-post and on-ball driving work.

Will he showcase those skills in the G League in the upcoming season? That’s yet to be determined. However, it’s clear that Martaveous McKnight is a talented player that can be a real diamond in the rough for whatever team he’ll be on during the 2019-20 season.