After nine games of meh, Arron Afflalo finally played a good game in a Knick uniform. While it came in a disastrous overtime loss, his strong play was an encouraging sign. He won’t drop 31 points a night, but there are things he can build on.
The most important thing he should take away is the importance of getting to the line. He shot four free throws on Sunday, not Harden-esque by any means, but it was a drastic improvement from his first nine games, when he averaged a depressing 0.6 free throw attempts per game. Sunday’s effort boosted his average to almost one whole attempt! Onward and upward.
Big caveat: It wasn’t like Afflalo was diving into the lane. Both his trips to the line came after he was fouled on jump shots, which as Clyde will tell you, is a cardinal sin, and not something he can count on defenders doing all the time. In fact, 9 of his 13 makes came from mid-range, per NBA.com. Looking at his shot chart, five of those came from the corner, only a step or two away from being delicious corner threes.
And it’s not as if he lacks range; Afflalo is shooting a very healthy 39% from distance, and has always been a good three-point shooter. Take a step back next time Arron!
This love of mid-range jumpers is a troubling late-career trend. In his first five years in the NBA, Afflalo took 26% of his attempts at the rim and 36% from three. Since leaving Denver the first time, his attempts from the Morey erogenous zones dropped to 17% and 28%, respectively, meaning he started taking a lot more mid-rangers. Not coincidentally, he also became a much less effective player.
|% of FGA by Distance|
You might say, “Well, Myles, if that’s the way he’s played for the last three years, that’s the way he’s going to keep playing.” First of all, that’s an awful familiar tone, Internet Stranger, but you may be right. However, Afflalo turned some of those clunky mid-rangers into sexy three-pointers last season in Denver and Portland, before reverting to old ways in New York. I’m holding out hope that good coaching can coax him back out.
To end on a good note, Afflalo took great care of the ball on Sunday, continuing a season-long trend. He sports a svelte TOV% of 6.6 despite a healthy amount of freelancing; his usage rate is 20% and only 36% of his two-point attempts have been assisted. He was one of the few players not coughing up the ball. The normally sticky-fingered Bockers had 21 turnovers against the Rockets, which totally lost them the game. Woops, couldn’t end on a good note.