The 19-27 start for the New York Knicks, which in the Eastern Conference isn’t back breaking, can be attributed to an awful lot of things. Injuries, poor coaching, horrible offense and defense, and laughably bad play in the clutch are just some. One factor that goes under the radar is shot selection.
There is a growing belief in the NBA that the mid-range shot is not a very good shot to take. It isn’t particularly easy to make like most shots near the rim and there is no incentive to move away from the rim and shoot there like there is with three pointers.
The Knicks this season on a whole have taken fewer shots at the rim than their opponents and more shots from mid-range than the other team. In fact, the Knicks have shot from that middle area between the paint and the arc more than any other spot on the floor.
This season the Knicks take 43% of their shots from mid-range. They take these shots despite the fact that no player on the team (except Jeremy Tyler who has way too small a sample size) shoots at least 45% from mid and only three (Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tim Hardaway Jr.) shoot above 41%.
The players who would really benefit from taking them less are the ones you’d expect, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and Iman Shumpert. All of these players have at times in their careers excelled in other areas of the court but all insist on taking anywhere from 30% (Iman Shumpert) to 53% (Carmelo Anthony) from the least efficient spot on the floor.
Part of this could be spacing, the Knicks this year have had noticeably less of it. This is especially true when opting to go big and sliding Anthony down to the small forward. Bargnani, who was brought in specifically to space the floor is basically a non-threat from 3 shooting just 27.8% from there.
It is true that Anthony’s game really could improve from a better shot selection, his teammates needs to play better around him. No one else on the team is really playing consistently well. Players like Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. can get hot or cold on a nightly basis and Smith and Felton are usually just cold.
With Bargnani out though, the Knicks should improve their shooting. The starting lineups are going back to small ball, where the Knicks excelled last year and they can revolve the offense around getting Carmelo Anthony the best shots and pick and rolls.
This has been the case over the last four games and hopefully should continue. Coach Mike Woodson has said he may permanently go with the small lineup, and that should only help things get back to where they need to be.
While going small won’t magically fix all of the team’s problems it should help a lot and if the Knicks can ride Carmelo Anthony’s hot shooting and string together 5 seven or eight wins in a row the team is right back in it in East and could also be in the mix to defend their Atlantic Division title.