According to Basketball-Reference.com, the New York Knicks’ offense is ranked 13th in the league. That’s a pretty healthy showing, especially for a team coming off a 17 win season with a fair amount of new players. However there is one oddity with this statistic: the Knicks can’t shoot. New York is 26th in effective field goal percentage (.461).
So how is New York scoring so well despite the fact that they can’t hit the broad side of a barn? They’re doing the non-barn-hitting parts of the offense pretty well. At the writing of this article, the Knicks stand 12th in free throws and 4th in both turnovers and offensive rebounding. Offensive rebounding stands to be a strength for this team for the foreseeable future. New York has 4 strong rebounders in their rotation: Kyle O’Quinn (4.7 oreb/36), Kristaps Porzingis (4.5), Lou Amundson (3.6), and Robin Lopez (3.2). Obviously the big surprise of this group is the Kurzeme Machine, as it was unclear before the season started if Porzingis’ slight frame would prohibit him from mixing it up in the paint. His long reach combined with a good motor has enabled his teammates to rack up Kobe assists.
The lack of turnovers are more difficult to analyze. The “I don’t need actual stats” reasoning would be the triangle offense has limited the number of iso plays which has led to a safer offense. However this hypothesis fails when you consider the team ran the triangle last year and still finished 22nd in terms of turnover percentage. So for the time being, let’s chalk this up to one of the mysteries of life — like what the Pyramids were built for. (My own theory is that they were civilizations’ first tough mudder course. Egyptian WOD: Climb up the pyramid and back down again. 1RFT.)
Free throws are one factor that may see a decrease. Right now, Derrick Williams is second on the team in total free throws made, and first in free throws per minute. Recently, Fisher has started to cut back on the forward’s playing time, which could hurt the team in this regard (but most likely help it in a lot of others). After Williams, comes Grant and ‘Taps on the list, and the latter pair’s free throws per minute combined don’t add up to Williams’. So New York’s charitable endeavors may come to an end.
However it’s entirely possible that New York offsets the drop in free throws by actually sinking some shots from the field. Three players that are banging away at iron are Melo, RoLo, and Porzingo. Lopez’ inclusion among the blacksmiths is perplexing. His eFG is a career low .460, far below his normal rate of .530. In 7 of 8 seasons, he’s been above .500. So most likely there’ll be an improvement from the bedheaded center.
Meanwhile Melo’s .459 is off from his career rate of .482. Coming off from surgery, the knee jerk (Wilbonian) theory is that Anthony has lost his lift. If this is true, then the stats aren’t showing it where expected. Carmelo has historically gotten his shot blocked 7.6% of the time and this year is down to 5.4%. There could be a few reasons #StayMe7o isn’t shooting up to par. However let’s give him some time before we assume it’s his inability to get up.
There is one other person that could help New York in this area. Aaron Afflalo has a .516 career eFG, but only once in the past 3 seasons has he been better than .500. So if Afflalo still has some juice left in the tank, he could help New York. If not he’s just part of the problem. It’ll be interesting to see where the Knicks will be a month or two from now.