The New York Knicks have won two games in a row. It’s quite literally their best stretch of this young 2013-14 season. The back-to-back wins have come, in large part, because of a rejuvenated offense which has seen the Knicks move the ball freely, efficiently, leading to open three-pointers. It has resembled the 54-win 2012-13 Knicks. And this, in large part, is a result of Carmelo Anthony’s more efficient approach to the game.
In November, Anthony averaged 27.5 points per game on 43% shooting (30.6% from downtown) to go along with 2.3 assists per game and 2.5 turnovers per game. The Knicks, as a team, shot just 41.8% from the field, 31.6% from beyond the arc in November, and they only averaged 93 points per game on 19 assists per game, according to NBA.com/Stats. They were a highly inefficient offensive team as they drowned their way to a 2-11 record for the month.
December has seen a little bit of a turn-around, however. The Knicks are 2-1 on the month, averaging 111 points per game on 51.7% FG, 479% 3FG, with 24 assists per game. Anthony himself is playing more efficiently, too, averaging 20.7 points per game on 53.5% shooting with 10.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and just 2 turnovers per game. Additionally, Anthony is averaging 14 field goal attempts n December, down from 22 attempts per game in November.
Anthony has said he’s taking a different approach. Via the New York Times:
More important was the play of Anthony, who was averaging 21.6 field-goal attempts per game. One day after attempting just 12 shots against the Nets, he took 10 against the Magic. He said he was making a conscious effort to get teammates more involved.
“Wanted to do something a little bit different, to see if it worked,” he said. “Me scoring 30 wasn’t working.”
Indeed, Anthony’s more efficient play and the subsequent offensive improvement has followed a pretty standard formula. Anthony has been posting up on both sides of the court, exerting his will on defenders. When help doesn’t come, Anthony takes advantage and scores himself. When defenses have sent an extra defender, Anthony has willingly passed the ball out of the post to the perimeter. From there, the Knicks usually swing the ball to find an open three-point shot which they’ve canned at a much higher rate than November. ‘Melo also possess a gift for making skip passes out of the post. When help comes and the defense rotates, Anthony will often fire the ball across the court to an open man. From there, the Knicks usually continue passing, so Anthony doesn’t get credited with the assist, but his ball movement has initiated the offense most times. If “hockey assists” were tracked, Anthony’s numbers would be even greater.
The key is for Anthony and the Knicks to maintain this mentality. Anthony, J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Andrea Bargnani have all been swept up in the movement the last two games and it’s important for them to keep this mind set. All four players have a habit of stopping the ball, and should the threes stop falling, they could be inclined to resort to one-on-one play. According to Synergy Sports, the Knicks go to isolation plays 13.2% of the time, and they only shoot 37% in those situations.
The plan is pretty simple: move the ball, execute, win more games.
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