The New York Knicks have won a single game since the All-Star break, a 98-91 affair against the New Orleans Pelicans in which Carmelo Anthony scored 42 points to drive home a win. With February now over, we can reflect upon this abbreviated month as the time — in a likelihood — that did in the Knicks’ season. They went just 2-11 in February. They’ve lost five games in a row and six of their last seven. They haven’t posted back-to-back wins since the final days of January.
This is in large part due to an already-flawed defense that has fallen to laughable levels. Currently, the Knicks are 26th in the league in defensive rating, points allowed per 100 possessions, at 106.8. This is largely where they’ve been all year. Since the All-Star break, the Knicks are 27th in defensive rating, giving up 113.9 points per 100 possessions.
The Knicks play at one of the slowest paces in the league — about 94 possessions per game — yet they in this two-week stretch since the All-Star break ended, the Knicks are allowing opponents to score 106 points per game. Additionally, during this stretch, Knicks’ opponents are shooting nearly 50% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc (third worst in the league).
A lot of this has come without the guidance of the Knicks’ two most impactful defensive players, Kenyon Martin and Iman Shumpert. Martin has been in and out of the lineup with various injuries and hasn’t played in weeks, while Shumpert is recovering from a sprained knee that he suffered in New Orleans against the Pelicans. Martin and Shumpert have the two best on-court defensive ratings of any Knicks who receive regular playing time, and without them there is zero perimeter defense and almost no rim protection.
Still, the Knicks as a whole have collapsed on this troublesome end of the court. Last night, the Golden State Warriors’ backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 10-21 shooting from three-point range, most of which were wide open, as the Warriors rang up the Knicks for 126 points in a non-overtime game. According to Synergy Sports, the Warriors averaged 1.44 points per play for players shooting off of a screen (indicative of the Knicks’ mass-switching chaos on defense) and 1.57 points per play in transition (indicative of the Knicks’ general laziness/suckiness).
The Knicks are also abysmal at guarding the most important spots on the floor. Since the All-Star break, they’re 25th in opponent FG% in 0-5 feet, allowing 62% shooting. And when it comes to defending the three-point line, as the Warriors witnessed, the Knicks simply aren’t interested. They’re 26th in defending the corner three-pointer, allowing opponents to shoot 50% from there, and they’re 27th in defending the above-the-break three-pointer, giving up 42.1% shooting. Furthermore, the Knicks can’t defend the most basic of plays. According to Synergy, the Knicks rank 30th in defending both the pick-and-roll ball-handler and roll man, giving up .91 points per play and 1.21 points per play, respectively.
This post doesn’t have answers or suggestions to the Knicks’ defensive woes. The numbers and Knicks’ record are indicative of a team that doesn’t have a clue how to defend or any willingness to do so. Even if the New York Knicks were to make a miraculous run to the playoffs, they haven’t the system or the know-how to even stay competitive against the top teams in the East.
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