Knicks Offensive Woes: The Triangle or the Underachievers?

The Knicks are on a 4 game slide. Normally this wouldn’t feel abnormal to their fans, but New York’s promising start has given hope where there previously was none. As we look to the stats for the answers, it’s clear that the offense should be doing better given the four factors. Offensively, the ‘Bockers are top 7 in terms of turnovers and rebounding and their free throw shooting is just above average. However the shooting has been abysmal with an eFG% of .462%; only 3 teams are worse.

Play Ball?
Play Ball?

A simple explanation would be to point to the underachieving players as the cause of the problem. ‘Melo (.457 eFG%), the team’s prima shooter, is 25 points below his career mark. However, Anthony isn’t the only one with shooting problems. The Knicks have a trio of big men that are under-performing. Robin Lopez is -91 points. Kyle O’Quinn is -74. Kevin Seraphin is -36. Additionally, Sasha Vujacic and Jerian Grant are at .311 and .399, which would be awesome if they were middle infielders.

So wait until these guys rebound to their career average and problem solved, right Knickeristas?

Not really if the issues isn’t with the players, but the scheme. It’s well known that the Knicks are running the archaic triangle offense. The league has changed since the days of Jordan and Shaq. Today the style of offensive in the NBA mostly involves screens and picks in lieu of straight up ball movement. In essence New York is bringing a tank to a guerrilla war.


The biggest reduction for this year’s Knicks squad seems to be in easy baskets. I decided to compare this year’s team with their 2014 counterparts. Way back in ’14, 11 players had an eFG% of .600 or better from inside 3 feet, and 6 of those played 1,000 minutes or more. This year there are only 5 Knicks with .600 or better, and only 3 of them are on pace to hit 1,000 minutes. For our yesteryear Knicks, only the seldom used Earl Clark had a percentage under .536. There are 3 current Knicks under that mark, all rotation players (‘Melo, Grant, and Galloway). In simpler terms, the team isn’t getting easy dunks and layups.

Which again begs the question: is it the system or the players? That ’14 team had awesome inside scorers like Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Cole Aldrich. And better shooting guards like J.R. Smith and Hardaway (that year at least). Perhaps even Carmelo Anthony isn’t the same as his former self.

Hence New Yorkers are stuck in the proverbial chicken or egg argument. Maybe the players are just having a down year. Or maybe the triangle offense needs to be scrapped for something that better fits today’s players. Tastes Great. Less Filling.

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