Part of the reason the New York Knicks got off to such a good start and were able to sustain things throughout the 2013 season was the fact that the Knicks shot the ball well from the night the season opened until the regular season concluded.
The Knicks ended up lighting it up from beyond the three-point arc in 2012-13, sinking an NBA-best 10.9 triples per contest, setting a league record for three-pointers made in a season in the process.
Entering the 2013-14 campaign, the philosophy will be the same, but will they produce the same results.
Knicks head coach Mike Woodson will hope that new additions Andrea Bargnani and Tim Hardaway Jr. can replace the perimeter production of departed shooters Jason Kidd and Steve Novak, which on paper shouldn’t be a problem.
But realistically you would think the Knicks would have to take a step back this season shooting the ball, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a big step.
In a perfect world, the Knicks would like to strike a better inside-out balance this season, but being that they don’t actually have a quality inside post scorer, they definitely would love to shoot in the neighborhood of double-digit threes in 2013-14.
However the Knicks aren’t likely to be on a record pace shooting the rock again based simply on the lack of ball movement.
Woodson will stress ball movement during the preseason, but the reality of the situation is that the Knicks averaged a league-worst 19.3 assists per game in 2013. The Knicks struggled to sustain ball movement and work the ball inside. Part of this is due to isolation-oriented players such as Anthony and J.R. Smith and part is due to not having a legitimate low-post scorer.
If they don’t get better at moving the ball and playing unselfish basketball, the amount of open looks from the perimeter won’t be there (see 2013 playoffs for example).
But the biggest thing going against the Knicks this season when it comes to shooting the ball is the fact that they can’t be expected to knock it down at the rate they did last season. One or two guys is likely to see a decline when it comes to shooting the rock from the outside.
The Knicks shot a solid 37.6 percent from behind the arc a season ago. That’s going to be a difficult number to attain again, given their roster.
Last year, the likes of Anthony (37.9 percent), Smith (35.6), Raymond Felton (36.0), Iman Shumpert (40.2) and Pablo Prigioni (39.6) all had very good year’s shooting the basketball. Not all of them are likely to have repeat success, especially the case of a guy like Shumpert, who shot way better than anything in his skill set would have suggested.
Anthony is a career 33.2 percent shooter from behind the arc, which is well below the performance we saw last year. The same goes for the likes of Felton (33.4) and Felton (34.9)
Smith (36.7) actually shot the ball worse than his career mark last season, but we all know the way he can shoot himself right into a cold streak, so I wouldn’t expect much more out of him.
Not only will the Knicks be without the likes of Novak (42.5) and Kidd (35.1) this season, but also probably their best perimeter shooter in Chris Copeland (42.1).
Between the players lost and the simple fact that one or two other players are statistically more likely to produce around their career averages, there’s a better than average chance that the Knicks won’t be knocking shots down anywhere near the clip that they were a season ago.
However some new faces could have something to say about that.
The additions of Andrea Bargnani, who can stretch the floor and Metta World Peace, who should thrive from the corner is this Knicks offense, could make this a very dangerous perimeter team.
Bargnani is coming off a very tough couple of years shooting the ball, but shot the ball above 34 percent from behind the arc his first five years in the league, including a 41 percent effort in 2009. World Peace owns a career 34.2 percent average from behind the arc and has knocked down over that number in six of the past seven seasons.
Throw in the likes of Beno Udrih (35.2) and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., and this Knicks team should have plenty of weapons that can knock down a barrage of shots from behind the arc.
Perimeter shooting is one thing that could make or break this Knicks team in 2014.
They may not set records like they did a season ago, but the Knicks should be an effective enough shooting team to contend in 2014.