As we fly into mid-January, teams around the NBA start to really have a gauge on where they are on the season. Some teams, like the Suns and the Bulls, know they are in position to make deep runs in the playoffs. Other teams, like the Pistons and the Magic, know that they’re going to really ramp up the scouting as we approach the final months of college hoops.
But the teams in the middle, like the Knicks, are still trying to figure things out. Are they a playoff team? Or do they need to focus their attention on finding a young player to bolster the squad?
But that’s something Leon Rose and the front office needs to figure out.
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has his own fish to fry as he struggles to find out what the correct formula of players is to fill the desires of the front office.
It’s no secret that winning nowadays involves shooting the rock from deep. We come back and refer to the Warriors teams with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and today’s teams. Warriors still have the Splash Brothers. The Nets have Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. The Suns have Devin Booker. The list goes on and on.
The Knicks have shown their plan all season long is to let loose from deep. When they make their shots, it’s a very exciting brand of basketball. There’s just something about watching the ball fly from deep and cashing in consistently that can make an adult squeal like a happy boar.
There’s also something about watching the ball fly from deep and consistently missing that can make an adult groan like they were just given a bill from a mechanic.
On the season, the Knicks are shooting 35.7% from deep, which places them in a tie for the ninth-highest in the league. However, over the last month, the Knicks are shooting 34.5% from deep. That puts them in a tie with the Denver Nuggets for a mediocre 18th in that span.
Over the last month, the Knicks are 7-8 and it’s not the defense’s fault either. The defensive coach in Thibodeau has led this team to allow just 100.8 points per game over that span. They’ve scored 99.2 points per game.
Is there anyone on the Knicks roster that you feel confident in making a three-pointer if your life depended on it?
One would probably exclude the starting unit from that list, which is unacceptable, but there is no way one is trusting Rj Barrett, Julius Randle, Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker or Mitchell Robinson in this situation.
Maybe one can find someone on the bench who could. A good choice would be Immanuel Quickley. Over the last month, he’s sunk 36% of his shots from deep. He’s a 37% shooter for his career from deep. Another can make a case for the 37% career three-point shooter in Alec Burks.
After that, who?
Obi Toppin hasn’t shown many strides of improvement from behind the arc. Despite having a fine looking jumpshot, fans have to cringe watching Toppin line up. Despite adjusting his play to become a 40% shooter from deep, Derrick Rose still doesn’t seem to be a viable choice. He is still at 32% for his 13-year career. Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride don’t have a big enough sample size to entrust them in that situation. Kevin Knox can’t buy playing minutes and when he does, it looks like he couldn’t hit water if he was standing on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The Knicks want to become a three-point shooting team with just two marksmen: Quickley and Burks, both of which usually come off the bench.
When Burks starts, he starts at point guard, which limits his optimal offensive production, resulting in duds from deep (and in the contest in general) and Quickley has made five career starts in his 100-game old career.
42% of shots taken by the team with just two reliable three-point shooters are from behind the arc, which is tied for seventh-most in the league. 57% of the shots the Knicks take are two-pointers, that is seventh-lowest.
A team that frequently refers to Randle and Barrett as the stars of the team, a pair of men who could benefit from getting closer to the rim, has 40% of their points come from the paint, which is sixth-least in the league. 47% of Knicks points come from inside the arc, penultimate in the league.
38% of Knicks points come from threes. That’s fifth-most in the NBA.
The front office seems to have a vision for this team. That vision is a three-point shooting team. The team continues to push a pair of inconsistent shooters as its stars and build around them yet give them just two marksmen who are not given a fair shot at the starting lineup.
Seems to be an injustice to Randle, who is entering what is supposed to be his prime, and Barrett, who is supposed to be breaking out and levitating his game.