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With injury-plagued Michael Porter Jr. dropping like a rock to No. 9 and fans at Barclays Center chanting his name, the Knicks wouldn’t take a chance on the Missouri forward.

But the Knicks still wound up taking something of a chance on draft night with Kentucky freshman Kevin Knox, the second-youngest player in the draft at age 18 and the youngest Knicks draft pick since the forgettable Maciej Lampe in 2003.

The 6-foot-9 Knox, like a late-closing thoroughbred from the state where he played college ball, beat out the more established Mikal Bridges of Villanova despite his up-and-down freshman year. Knox averaged 15.6 points and shot 44.5 percent — 34.1 percent from 3-point range — and struggled on defense.

“They booed [Kristaps] Porzingis [on draft night] and look where he is now,” Knox said of the harsh reaction. “That’s the same mindset I’m going to have. They can chant Michael Porter all they want. But they got Kevin Knox, and I’m willing to work and I’m willing to get better.

“I like it,” Knox added. “The fans wanted Porter. It’s motivation.”

Bridges was considered the safer pick, a much better defender and proven winner as a two-time NCAA champion. It’s all potential with Knox, whose spectacular group workout against Michigan State’s Miles Bridges nearly two weeks ago saw him rise on the Knicks’ board.

Most importantly, Knox won over new coach David Fizdale with what Knicks general manager Scott Perry called “a tremendous upside” that Villanova’s Bridges may not possess. This was a Fizdale selection and it better be the right one as there’s no margin for error for this woebegone franchise.

“[Knox] fits what we’re going to be about,’’ Perry said. “He’s athletic, plays multiple positions, has tremendous upside at Kentucky which has produced a lot of great pros. We know he’s been challenged there by Coach [John] Calipari.

“With Coach Fizdale and the way we want to play, his ability to work and develop young people, we felt he was an excellent fit.”

Calipari said Knox could be the next Jayson Tatum in that he didn’t show his full worth in college before exploding in his rookie year with Boston.

Asked about his defensive woes, Perry said, “He’s going to grow in that area.”

Knox is the kind of combo forward that is all the rage in the new NBA. Perry said Knox was a better choice than Bridges for “the way the league is trending.’’

“His athleticism will really show at our level,’’ Knicks president Steve Mills said. “His ability to shoot the ball will show. As season went on, he felt a little more comfortable.’’

The Post reported in Thursday’s editions the Knicks were getting cold feet with Porter if he dropped. Like many teams, the Knicks considered Porter’s medical reports alarming after he played three games as a freshman and suffered a mishap last week.

One person familiar with the situation said choosing him as high at ninth would have been “reckless.’’ Denver picked Porter, once projected as the No. 1 pick, at 14.

“You weigh medicals,’’ Mills said. “We do our due diligence on everyone and make a decision and Kevin Knox was the guy for us.’’

For days, the Knox camp was certain the Knicks would take him. His father, Kevin Knox Sr., told The Post an out-of-the-blue phone call from Perry last week indicated huge interest.

“We had a lot of healthy debates the last couple of days,’’ Mills said. “By last night we had figured out exactly what we wanted to do.’’

Knox’s group workout in which one source said he “kicked around’’ Miles Bridges, was the tipping point. In fact, Mills commended Knox to do the 3-on-3 workout as it showed confidence in his game. Mikal Bridges chose a solo workout.

“You could see the growth he displayed from the end of the season to two months later,’’ Perry said. “He gained size and was confident. The most important part is we got to know him as a person, learn more about him. The young man was driven to become a great player.’’

And clearly Knox hit it off with Fizdale.

“He’s probably one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever met, as far as information and knowledge of the game,” Knox said Wednesday. “We talked a lot about our personal lives. He gave me some tips about life. He’s a player’s coach. He’s really good coaching X’s and O’s and I really enjoyed my time with him.

“He loves to coach guys who are all-around wings and he believes I fit that mold,’’ Knox added.

The Knicks were focused on adding a small forward who will be a foundation piece to seal Kristaps Porzingis’ desire to re-sign in 2019 and to attract a marquee free agent. Bridges, selected by the 76ers at 10 and traded to the Suns, was seen as someone ready to contribute in a big way. But Perry believes Knox will, too.

“We think this guy is going to come in and even though he’s young, we’re going to push him to contribute as early as possible,’’ Perry said.

Knox’s father, a former NFL receiver who played at Florida State with ex-Knick Charlie Ward, showed up in a blue suit and orange tie. Now his son gets to play for Ward’s former team.

By Marc Berman, New York Post

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