The Knicks started off the season 6-0 and were rightfully the talk of the league. Some shell-shocked Knicks fans were in a state of disbelief but wanted to tell ourselves that as long as the the squad continued to play elite defense and took care of the ball, they could weather some inevitable ups and downs in the scorching three point percentage that had carried them to a league leading point differential. Through their first six games the Knicks ranked second in DRtg, and first in turnover rate. Indeed, their league leading ranking in 3PM and 3PT% were gravy.
But since that scorching start the Knicks are 2-3 and some of those 3 have been U-G-L-Y, particularly the loss last night against Houston, which brought back memories of this. What’s happened in the past five games? Facially it’s just clear that the Knicks aren’t shooting as well, and have collapsed on D. In other words, the Knicks have suffered a breakdown from the lofty heights that led them to such a hot start. Specifically, in the 5 games since November 16th, the Knicks:
- regressed to 11th in 3PT%, even though they’ve continued to shoot more threes than any other team; and
- ranked better than just 5 other teams on defense based on DRtg.
Cause to panic? Not necessarily. Based on what I’ve and others (like Clyde) have observed over the most recent stretch, I went into this post assuming I’d write about how the Knicks haven’t been passing anymore, and that they’ve started to turn the ball over at an alarming rate, but neither is true. While the Knicks ranked best in turnover rate over the first six games, they’re worse than just 3 other teams over the most recent five. And the Knicks are actually 2 spots better in assist rate than they were in their first six games (from 18th to 16th – no great shakes either way).
Bottom line? 11th place in 3PT% is decent, but much less than ideal if the Knicks are going to continue shooting more threes than anyone else. Last night, 45% of the Knicks attempts came from deep – when did the Knicks bring Mike D’Antoni back? The Knicks need to diversify their offense. That is especially the case if they are going to continue to struggle defensively (after last night’s game the Knicks are ranked 17th in the league!). On that front, with the personnel they have there’s no reason the Knicks shouldn’t ultimately settle in closer to first than 25th. If they can right the ship on D, continue to limit the turnovers, and diversify their offense a bit, I think we can still expect great things.