The Knicks are indeed living by the three, but how long will this last? “You live by the three, you die by the three” is the old NBA adage often associated with prolific three point shooting teams. Through a fifth of the 2012-2013 NBA season, the Knicks take and make more threes than any other team in the league, averaging 29.7 shots taken and 12.1 shots made per game, which is 3rd in the league at a .407 average. For a single player to average above the 40% 3Pt shooting plateau is truly remarkable, but for a whole team to be above the mark is utterly unfathomable; and to sustain this average throughout the year is virtually impossible. Most analysts criticize the Knicks for this phenomenon, saying this fluky play won’t last. Looking at stats in a box score can give a person perspective of how a game went down, but to accurately analyze the overall performance of a team, one has to observe the chemistry and rhythm of the game. The Knicks personnel and chemistry, along with their meticulous execution of plays, can give Knicks fans confidence that this remarkable three point shooting is more than just an aberration.
The NBA is changing before our very eyes. How many teams have a legitimate old school center? Not many, perhaps three. The championship Miami Heat team won a title last year with a power forward playing at the center position. With this shift occurring in the NBA, a need for athletic, more agile big men is clearly evident, as opposed to a big clunky paint stuffer. More and more teams are incorporating 3 point shooting power forwards into the lineup as well. With that said, let’s look at the Knicks roster.
First and foremost, the Knicks have the best 3-point shooter in the game with Steve Novak, who led the NBA in 3PT shooting percentage last year. Second, Carmelo Anthony, who’s been playing at the power forward position exclusively this season, is arguably the best scorer in the league who can drain a bucket from anywhere on the court. Third, JR Smith, although a streaky shooter, can make consecutive 3-point field goals on a given night. Forth, Raymond Felton, one of the better shooting point guards in the NBA, has shown the propensity to make timely threes, 39% shooting rate. Lastly, the newly acquired Jason Kidd, who’s making a staggering 53% of his threes this season, has made more 3-point field goals than anyone to ever lace ‘em up, with Ray Allen and Reggie Miller as the only exceptions.
Along with the plethora of viable 3-point options, the Knicks are executing plays to a poetic rhythm, a site NYC hasn’t seen since the Ewing era. With Melo penciled in at the power forward position, the floor spacing has been immaculate this season. Along with the spacing, the ball movement has been flowing at a smooth pace, a far cry from last year’s stagnation. Raymond Felton’s ability to split defenders, drive the paint, and then kick the ball out to wide open 3 point shooters allowed the Knicks to have high percentage 3PT FG opportunities. With Jason Kidd and Felton on the floor simultaneously, the ball movement, spacing and overall execution of plays has been a wonderful sight to see, where sometimes the players manage to even over pass. The ball moves faster than the man, and with the Knicks spacing, the passing has bothered defending teams who can’t seem to keep up with the graceful ball movement. Basketball has a rhythm, a heartbeat, and the fluid ball movement the Knicks are creating allows open-in rhythm jump shots. Making FG’s is the name of the game, but sometimes creating an open shot, which happens to miss, is more of a positive than taking a bad contested shot that luckily manages to go in.
With all that said, the Knicks need to establish more of a post game. The Knicks are 1st in the league at 3Pt shooting rate, at 35.3% of all FG’s coming from beyond the arc. They are last in the league in 2pt percentage, 64.7%, and 29th in the league with regards to points in the paint, averaging 33.1 PPG. Although the Knicks have extraordinary perimeter shooters, the best in the league in my opinion, they need to establish a balance of inside scoring as well. While this type of play is exciting to watch, playoff teams tend to figure out how to limit a team from beyond the arc.
Lately Tyson Chandler has been emerging as a presence in the paint, often finishing on alley-oops, but players like Rasheed Wallace, who reportedly said he was coming back to the league to show his post play, need to step up their game in the paint. This is another reason why Amar’e Stoudemire, one of the best interior scorers in the game, is so important to the Knicks. With Amar’e back and established in the offense, the Knicks will find that needed scoring balance and wont rely on the 3 ball as much.
Eyosyas Tadesse @ETdash – Knickswag Contributor
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