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Monday, April 21, 2014

Some Plays Count: Who Is Hurting the Knicks Offense?

Recently I had an exchange with another blogger about one Knick in particular. In our discussion, he mentioned that this player was hurting the offense because “the fact that [his] defender doesn’t have to guard [his] jumper TRULY stiffles this system. [The other team] can sag on cutters or on screens…” The blogger was describing David Lee, and needless to say I didn’t agree with his assessment. However watching the tape of the Bobcats game I saw exactly what this blogger was talking about. Except it wasn’t David Lee that was hurting the Knicks offense, it was Wilson Chandler.

In the video below, I show two plays where Chandler’s inability to score hurts the offense. Twice the Knicks attempt to run the pick & roll. And twice the Bobcats focus on suppressing the screen, leaving Chandler wide open on the perimeter. Unfortunately the only “Ill-Will” Chandler dishes out is to his own team. The Knicks retain possession on the first shot due to Lee’s tenacity on the boards. But Charlotte secures the second miss.

Over the summer I said that Chandler needs to improve his scoring efficiency by getting to the line more and/or being more consistent with his three point shot. However an injury sidelined Wilson in the offseason, so he wasn’t able to work on his game. After the first 3 games, Chandler is shooting a pitiful 12.5% from three and has a TS% of 40.9%. While he won’t shoot that badly over the course of the season, you can see why D’Antoni has inserted Danilo Gallinari into the starting lineup. Teams can double Duhon and clog the middle on every screen because there is no one on the perimeter to make them pay. This paid immediate dividends in last night’s win over the Hornets, as David Lee led the team in scoring (28 points on 17 shots). Shutting down the pick & roll is what put the Knicks in a tailspin at the end of last year, and the New York offense can’t thrive without balancing the threat between inside & outside scoring.

15 comments on “Some Plays Count: Who Is Hurting the Knicks Offense?

  1. ess-dog

    Wow, you can really see how crappy his form is when you break it down. As a positive, D’Antoni recognized that Chandler wasn’t working as a wing and moved him to the post for our win against NO. We are still in a period where D’Antoni is tinkering with the lineup.
    Lee is slowly improving that jumper, but it’s not totally there yet. I actually would like to see Hill play some (eventually) since one of his big strengths is apparently short- to mid- range shooting. But it would be nice to have a 2nd consistent shooter in the backcourt besides Gallo…. praying for consistency from Duhon and Hughes seems like fool’s gold to me.

  2. mj1

    I don’t think any player per se is hurting the offense. It’s the way the offense is run that is the problem. It looks to me like the whole offense consists of; get rebound or inbounds, run down court, throw up 3 point brick, hope it goes in, run back to the other end, repeat. It’s no wonder the team falls behind by 20 before you know it. It seems to me that a more inside out game. Wilson Chandler is not a 3 point shooter and there is no use trying to make him one. He should be slashing to the basket and only taking threes as a last resort. D’Antoni is letting everyone jack up 3 pointers whenever they want to without any thought to playing at least some of the game in the paint. If the team is cold, he does not even make adjustments. Just keep firing bricks. It’s one thing if you have a team of sharpshooters like he had in Phoenix, but the NYK are not that team. Adjustments need to be made. If the team had a decent drive and kick point guard, it would also help.

  3. d-mar

    The most surprising thing to me in that clip is that the Cats were doubling Duhon. When I read your title “Who is Hurting the Offense Most?” my first thought was Duhon. I’m always surprised on the pick and roll that his defender doesn’t sag on Lee and dare him to shoot a midrange jumper. As far as Chandler, the alarming thing to me is the atrocious bricks he’s throwing up, including in this clip.

  4. Kevin McElroy

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Not since the days of Larry Brown have I seen a Knick as mis-utilized as Chandler has been in D’Antoni’s system. The idea of him playing 2 in any offense is odd, but in a system based on jump shooters it is absolutely bizarre. They need to streamline his game and have him play fewer minutes while focusing on his strengths: help defense, transition offense, and occasional dribble penetration. This and his ability to play multiple positions (2,3, even 4 in D’Antoni-ball) is the source of his value and he has the makings of a high energy super-sub to play alongside Nate. He should not be taking first unit minutes from Gallo, Harrington (who is a sub, but still plays every important minute), or (good God, I think I really mean this) even Hughes.

  5. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Perhaps the reason the team is attempting so many three point shots is because the teams are taking away the paint & making the Knicks beat them from outside. We saw in Game 4 how putting Gallo in made the opponents respect the outside, and it’s no coincidence that Lee led the team in scoring that night.

  6. Thomas B.

    Yes, Lee and Gallo had a connection I’ve not seen on this team in years. Brings back memories of Jackson to Ewing back when Knick games were broadcast on Channel 9. “Remember Knicks on 9?”

    Chandler needs to drive when he has room rather than take a 20+ foot shot. He is more likely to draw a foul than make the outside shot. He is strong and quick enough to force most front court players to foul him. I hope the coaching staff is telling him that.

    Let’s say the outside shot does not improve, how then do you address this? Bench him in favor of harrington? But then who can score off the bench?

  7. Ted Nelson

    I don’t know if you have to force them to beat you from outside. It seems sort of symbiotic to me: teams are giving them the outside shot and they’ve been more than happy to miss, I mean take, it…

    The problem I see with Chandler is that he’s not good at finishing around the basket either. It’s not just a matter of if he drives it his scoring efficiency will come. Certainly his efficiency should improve, but I think the assumption that because he’s big and athletic he can attack the rim and finish is not necessarily correct. It’s probably more mental than physical, but Chandler routinely gets called for charges or forces up awkward shots inside. This was a big part of the reaction against all the Lee hate that used to go on: getting to and finishing at the basket are skills. Chandler needs to work on both. I used to think Chandler could develop a Marion-like skill set as a scorer, but besides being a slightly better jump shooter Marion was great at getting to the basket and finishing. Nate Robinson is a better finisher than Chandler.
    I like Kevin’s point about limiting Chandler’s role.

  8. Nick C.

    “teams are giving them the outside shot and they’ve been more than happy to miss, I mean take, it”

    Funny stuff. So the take is, in a nice way, WC isn’t all that good?

  9. David Crockett

    The thing with Chandler is that you can, as Kevin suggests, limit the damage he does by simply not playing him or letting him play some PF. He’s also one of the team’s best defenders, for whatever that’s worth.

    On the other hand, Chris Duhon’s inability to run consistently also hurts the team. Duhon runs the screen roll about as well as it can be run for a guy with no jump shot. Sometimes the angles he creates on those passes are really uncanny (to use a Clydism). But, he’s really only mediocre in transition.

  10. Captain Merlin

    To say someone is one of the Knicks’ best defenders is on par with saying that one particular fatty giblet in a cauldron of gravy is one of the gravy’s most healthful giblets among the many.

    This zany team of ours has me delving further into esoteric bullshit.

  11. marxster

    I just saw that si.com has the Knicks dead last on their power rankings. Not sure I agree with that. Would be nice if the Knicks could prove them wrong.

    All I know is that the last game was actually pretty enjoyable to watch. I know, that’s one out of four…I guess us Knicks fans have learned to be optimistic. What else can we do.

  12. Z-man

    Let’s face it, Chandler is going to play. For me, the question is how big of a part of the offense will he be? Clearly he is shooting too much, especially from 3. From inside the ark, he is 17 for 40, Which is not great but Jeffries-like either (Gallo is 5 for 14 inside the arc thus far.)

    His rebounds, assists and blocks are up so far and he is an athletic and versatile player. I would simply make him cut down his shot attempts, esp from 3, and encourage him to attack the rim more.

  13. GAx

    The problem Chandler has with putting the ball on the floor is he drives in a straight line. He doesn’t seem to be able to change direction as quickly as he’d like, so as long as there’s some open light he can go up strong. Otherwise, someone’s takin that charge.

    He still has some room before his ceiling is hit. It was good to see him adjust and take less 3-pointers with that last game, but for the first time I wouldn’t be aghast at the thought of including him as a trade piece if the deal was right. I like him on this team, but I think we as Knick fans tend to overvalue our younger players, especially if we drafted them. Probably because promising youth on this team is such a rarity.

  14. Robert Silverman

    “But, he’s (Duhon) really only mediocre in transition.”

    That’s being really generous. Duhon’s just plain awful in transition. His natural instinct is to walk it up and run the half court o. He almost NEVER pushes the tempo and when he does, he often misses open players ahead of the field. I remember one moment during the NO game where the crowd literally groaned b/c Al had beaten the Hornets down the court and Duhon didn’t see him and slowed up at the top of the key.

    This isn’t to completely denigrate Du’s game, but if you want to run, w/o a doubtthis team needs a new PG. Nate, in contrast, ALWAYS looks to run/push, but is similarly exasperating b/c he pretty much only looks for his own shot on the break.

    Sorry to digress, but what’s happened to Gus Johnson? I find Albert the Younger’s voice to be extremely grating, esp. since there are moments where he sounds somewhat like his pops. It’s like eating Tofurkey v. Turkey or a poster of a Velasquez v. trekking to the Met to see the real deal.

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