I found four interesting plays from the December 12th game against Denver, and decided to break down film on them to gain a better understanding of the Knicks. Originally I had them as one big video, but it got a bit long, so I decided to give each play its own video. Here is part 1, which documents how a few different players combine for an open shot.
In the last installment of Some Plays Count, I looked at Knick rookie starter Timofey Mozgov. Although Mozgov’s arrival was much ballyhooed, Landry Fields has made a bigger contribution to the team thus far. Fields, who has the knack for flying under the radar, is starting at shooting guard and is 4th on the team in minutes averaging 29.7 per game. I thought I’d take a look at his game against the Celtics, and see how he contributes to the team.
For those that are YouTube-ally challenged, Fields has a great ability finding an opening in the defense, cut to the spot, and finish around the hoop. Additionally he’s a tenacious rebounder, in one play showing great boxing out technique on Rondo and another one chasing down a board in crunch time. Finally his other great asset has been his court vision. He’s able to scan the floor, make quick decisions, and deliver the ball to an open teammate. The diagrammed play below is the second play, where Fields is left unguarded by Boston and cuts to the paint for an easy score.
With 10 new players, there are a lot of unknowns for the 2011 Knicks. However the biggest uncertainty in every sense of the word is Timofey Mozgov. D’Antoni chose to start him against the Celtics on October 13th, which provided a good first look at the youngster.
According to Wikipedia, “In basketball, an assist is attributed to a player who passes the ball to a teammate in a way that leads to a score by field goal, meaning that he or she was ‘assisting’ in the basket… Only the pass directly before the score may be counted as an assist.”
In the Knicks win against the Hornets, Danilo Gallinari & David Lee had some nice chemistry going. The pair hooked up 3 times for easy buckets, and to the naked eye they appeared to be veterans that had played together for years. Although Gallo had an off-night with regards to shooting (2-9, pts) he racked up 5 assists, and helped the team’s spacing on the floor.
The below video shows the three plays in which Gallo fed Lee. In the first, Gallo’s hot outside shooting allows him to head fake his defender on the perimeter. He drives to the hoop, and draws the defense in. Lee had continued all the way to the hoop, and received a nice pass from the Rooster. In the second, Lee sets a beautiful pick, and Gallo rewards him with a fantastic bounce pass for an easy layup. The last play shows Gallo’s vision, as he leads Lee with a pass over the middle.
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.
Here are two video clips on the Knicks defense in their home opener. Both show the Knicks switching on every pick. The first one is of the technique working, as Miami struggles to find an open man. The other is two possessions showing different ways the Heat took advantage of this strategy.
[Note: There’s no audio on these clips for those at work. I’d like to say that’s by design, but as you can see I’m no Gian.]