Tag Archives: New York Knicks

Detroit’s domination and struggle inside the paint

Last night wasn’t exactly a spectacle between the Knicks and Pistons. I spent most of the first half staring at the box score as their combined made field goals, assists, and turnovers were all about the same. Eventually, with the help of Andre Drummond tying the league’s highest total for rebounds this season, Detroit pulled away and revived hopes of making the postseason. The Knicks, meanwhile…

Neither team was an offensive masterpiece. Detroit was the only one to make over 40 percent of their shots, shooting 35-for-83 with 48 of their 96 points coming in the paint. That’s typical of Detroit. Their point distribution graph from last Friday can be found here, but it’s worth noting in this post that they lead the league in the percentage of their points coming around the rim.

But the other portion of the paint was a pain. The Pistons score at a bottom-10 rate inside the paint but outside the restricted area, and it only got worse last night when they put up a donut — 0-for-12. It’s the most attempts taken in the non-restricted area portion of the paint without making a single shot.

Last night’s looks against the Knicks from that area of the floor were probably what would be expected. Some were altered by Tyson Chandler, others were forced attempts like Kyle Singler slashing after being run off the three-point line, and a few were blown looks by Greg Monroe or Brandon Jennings. It happens, especially when over three-fifths of the Pistons’ attempts come from players anywhere from below-average to awful finishers from that area. It’s also not completely unheard of for a team to go scoreless from there when the league average for attempts per game is about 12.5, nearly half the average from mid-range and around the rim.

However, it’s still pretty impressive that Detroit’s 12 attempts resulted in no production. Variance is weird like that.

Below is a breakdown of games where a team went scoreless from a specific area of the floor:

As for a team neglecting an area of the floor:

  1. No team has completely ignored the non-restricted area portion of the paint in a game, but there have been games where only one attempt was taken – two of the occurrences coming from the Knicks and one from the Bulls. The Knicks love to shoot outside the paint in general while the Bulls, well, at least Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, among others, have helped right their ship lately.
  2. Houston’s the only team to take less than five mid-range shots, which they’ve done in four games. Moreyball!
  3. 11 times has a team not taken a corner three. Detroit isn’t found in any of those games, but four games were from the Pelicans. I guess Anthony Davis can’t do everything.
  4. No team has not taken a three from above the break, but Memphis holds the season-low with three attempts on January 31.
  5. Around the rim, Sacramento’s the only team to take less than 10 attempts in a game, which they accomplished on January 24 all while nearly toppling the Pacers. That counts for a moral victory, right? Right?!

Around the rim is where Detroit thrives. The least amount of attempts they’ve taken within the restricted area is 22, which is Brooklyn’s average per game. They also hold the two season-highs for attempts at 53 and 51 on November 29 and January 10, respectively.

It’s that other portion of the paint that’s been tricky for the Pistons, as well as just about everywhere else. Things happen when a team’s composed of players whose ways of scoring overlap with each other’s.

But at least they got the touch around the rim…

Is that not what the Pistons would say to themselves? Long live Caddyshack.

All stats are according to NBA.com.

Non-conference update: The East continues to chip away in the standings

The non-conference update follows games pitting the Western Conference’s teams versus the East’s. This season, the West has often held a winning percentage so large it hasn’t been seen in over 50 years.

Last week the East continued a respectable winning percentage against the West, finishing 9-10. Among the teams bullied, though, was the New York Knicks thanks to Dirk Nowitzki and Stephen Curry. Detroit also didn’t win either of their games against the West. Over the past month, though, the East is 40-46 against the West. Not great, of course, but definitely fine.

Below is an updated week-by-week breakdown of non-conference play so far:

I mentioned in my last non-conference post that the West’s best season ever against the East was in 2004 when they finished with a winning percentage of 63.3. Last week put a dent in the possibility of 2014 surpassing that mark, though it’s still possible. The West would have to finish 71-35, which can be slimmed to 64-35 when taking into account Philadelphia playing seven non-conference games that should hardly be competitive. POOR THADDEUS YOUNG.

A pretty good chunk of non-conference games will take place this week, 28 total with each conference having 14 home games apiece. Indiana and Miami, far and away the best teams against the West, play five games while West playoff teams and their hopefuls play in 20 of them. A closer look at those games can be found here as well as bolded games I think the West will win, though I put little thought into it. Basically, the West was predicted to go 19-9 which is right on track to surpass 2004’s winning percentage.

The rest of March as a whole has a ton of non-conference games, 98 to be exact with 50 of the games hosted by West teams. After that, it slows down significantly with nine games over the 16 other days.

Below is a look at the league standings with non-conference games left. Conferences are separated by different sheets, so to view the West simply go to the bottom and click on sheet labeled after it.

Dallas having seven less non-conference games than Memphis and Minnesota looks pretty huge, though the Grizzlies still have to play Miami not once, not twice, not three times, not four, not five okay they play the Heat twice, but still. They’re actually a pretty interesting matchup with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph playing against the smaller lineups of Chris Bosh and either LeBron James or Shane Battier.

Minnesota also faces an important stretch of non-conference games right when they need it most, all while Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin return to the lineup. They’ll host New York, Detroit and Toronto this week and Milwaukee in the following one. That’s a good reminder that while the East is holding its own as of late, a stretch against their teams is still seen as a way to beef up in the standings.

Until next week.

Non-conference update: The East ties and a breakdown of games left

The non-conference update follows games pitting the Western Conference’s teams versus the East’s. This season, the West has often held a winning percentage so large it hasn’t been seen in over 50 years.

A day late because of my Monday post about the New York Knicks, the East and West tied last week in non-conference play. It’s the first time the East tied or won a week since the seven days before Christmas and only third time in the 17 weeks this season.

Below is the updated week-by-week breakdown:

The last three weeks have been respectable outcomes for the East with a combined winning percentage of 46.3 percent. That fits right in with the past 14 years against the West. As for the entire season, the West’s winning percentage has now fallen below 63.3 percent which was their highest mark ever, recorded in the 2003-04 season.

This week the West is currently 3-0, including Dirk Nowitzki’s unbelievable-yet-totally-believable buzzer-beater over Carmelo Anthony last night, but there’s still 16 games to go.

Below is a table of all the non-conference games remaining as well as a separate column for games featuring the Sixers (poor Thaddeus Young), Bucks (poor Caron Butler), Magic (poor Arron Afflalo), Celtics (poor Rajon Rondo?), Kings (poor DeMarcus Cousins???), Lakers (poor Kobe Bryant?????), and Jazz (poor Gordon Hayward???????):

Without taking into account back-to-backs and home and road games, Golden State has a small yet nice edge over a few West teams on the fringe by playing three games against East teams that, from here on out, might not win more than 15 games combined.

New York is worth mentioning too, even if there’s the possibility Raymond Felton misses significant time for, well, Sports Illustrated has a breakdown of what happened and what could happen next. They might even be better without him even if they just bought out Beno Udrih. Washington is also another team with a few winnable non-conference games, though they’re without Nene Hilario for at least a month after spraining his MCL.

Overall, there’s still over a month left in the NBA season and over 120 non-conference games left. The East could continue chipping away at what was once an embarrassing winning percentage, or the West could surpass their 2004 mark as their best non-conference record ever.

Tables with shot location splits (from the Knicks post)

Below are some shot location splits I made to compare New York’s recent, excessive jump shooting with the rest of the league.

The first table looks at how many shots a team takes outside of the paint, according to NBA.com’s shooting stats. Here’s a link to it for maybe an easier view. This one should make it downloadable on Excel, where sorting columns are hopefully a possibility.

Anyway, here’s the posted table(s) from Google Sheets:

There isn’t anything too telling with how shots in the paint or out of it impacts offensive rating. The top 10 most efficient teams are scattered across the board. It’s worth noting, though, that only seven teams have taken more than half their shots in the paint.

Splits in wins and losses, found in the second sheet, also vary. In wins, the Nets, Pistons, Clippers, and Lakers all take a few less shots in the paint. The Bobcats, Cavaliers, Heat, and Magic have the opposite result. For Charlotte and Miami, maybe that’s from the impact of Al Jefferson and LeBron James, respectively.

Overall, though, I’m not sure it’s worth looking too into the stats because of, well, the difference in points from a mid-range jumper and a three-point shot not being specified (but will be in the second batch of tables). That doesn’t mean it’s not cool to post the splits, though, well hopefully.

But the next table’s a little more specific with where a team distributes their shots, sorting ones that often generate the most points (around the rim and from the arc) from the lowest (in the paint but not in the restricted area, and from mid-range). Here’s a link to the table for possibly easier viewing. This link should hopefully load in Excel.

This table has a more clear relation to both offensive rating and effective field goal percentage, though outliers like Philadelphia (poor Thaddeus Young, by the way) still remain. Detroit’s also one of the top teams to shoot around the rim or from three, though their efficiency takes a hit from Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, among other players.

On the other side of the outliers is Oklahoma City, who’s in the middle of the pack with how many attempts they take around the rim and from three, though they’re sixth in offensive rating and EFG%. It helps to have nice mid-range shooters in Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Same goes for Dallas with Dirk Nowitzki and Portland with LaMarcus Aldridge.

No team takes less than half of their shots from the high-efficiency areas of the floor, though Memphis is tip-toeing that ground with a near 50-50 split. Related: they’re 20th in offensive rating and 21st in EFG%.

Win-loss splits still vary. Golden State, for example, attempts two to three more shots from either mid-range or the non-restricted area part of the paint (that part of the floor seriously needs a better, shorter name) in wins. Swinging the other way are the Mavericks, Clippers, Pelicans, and Jazz all taking a few less shots from those low-efficiency spots on the floor with the Clippers having the biggest decrease, taking over five less shots in wins. Unsurprisingly, their EFG% improves by 9.1 percent though every team’s percentage has increased in wins. There’s hardly a difference in shot distribution for some teams like the Lakers, Magic, and Blazers, all changing by less than a quarter of a percent.

Just for fun, I included an extra table featuring which teams take more mid-range shots than ones around the rim, something I included in the Knicks-related post this morning. Unsurprisingly, Portland’s both at the top of that table and the only team to be in the top 10 in scoring efficiency. The rest of the teams, save for the Knicks, are either at the bottom 10 or flirting with it.

I also wanted to include game-by-game logs but they’re so big that I didn’t want to make this post extremely slow to load. They can be found here on Google Sheets or a link to Excel.

Any other thoughts are certainly welcome, and as a reminder this was related to the Knicks column I posted earlier today about their overreliance on the jump shot, even by their standards.

The Knicks’ recent overreliance on the jump shot

The last couple of Knicks games have been, well, rather Knicksy. Their defense has been lacking and badly, allowing 114.6 per 100 possessions according to NBA.com. Recently, though, New York’s scoring efficiency (104.7 points/100 possessions) has actually been higher than their average rate of 103.9 in their other 54 games, and how they distributed their shots across the floor is more than worth discussing by itself.

By design, New York takes a lot of shots from the perimeter, most notably when Carmelo Anthony is playing power forward. That’s usually fine since that happened for most of 2013 and their offense finished third in scoring efficiency. This season’s starting lineups have been different for a lot of reasons, but during the last two games their lineup had a makeup similar to 2013: Anthony at power forward with Tyson Chandler, two point guards, and a small forward to space the floor that’s currently J.R. Smith, though Iman Shumpert would likely start in his place if he were healthy.

The result has been A LOT of shots outside the paint, for better or worse. Below are their shot charts against Orlando and Atlanta with the former on the left and the latter on the right, via ESPN.com:

NY-ORL 2-21

The love for the jump shot is probably more noticeable against Orlando when the Knicks attempted 73 field goals outside the paint, according to NBA.com, which is the second-highest total by any team this season and surpassed only by their incredibly Knicksy game at Milwaukee on December 18. The percentage of shots they took outside the paint against Orlando, however, was the highest by any team at 76.84 percent, well above their league-leading average of 61. As for their outing against Atlanta, it was the 15th-highest percentage by any team at 70.79.

Teams on average take 52.7 percent of their shots outside the paint. I’ll have another blog post sharing a table of that, among other things. For now, here’s where the Knicks’ last two games fit in with the 21 other instances of excessive perimeter shooting:

New York

The Knicks are responsible for five of those 23 games and are the only team to pull them off in consecutive ones.

Anthony, Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Raymond Felton combined for 109 of those 136 shots outside the paint, though they’re not totally bad attempts. Obviously, three-pointers are worth more than 20-foot twos and the Knicks took seven more threes on average than they normally would, but they also took 11 more mid-range shots per game. The shots that vanished were from around the rim, taking eight less attempts per game against Atlanta and Orlando. Even Chandler, who supplied a good chunk of the attempts around the rim thanks to alley-oops, got in on the fun from the dead zone of the floor but had little success.

Below is a simple breakdown of New York’s shot locations with the last two games bolded. The other 54 games are in regular font:

The same accuracy from the arc is nice to see, though Anthony hit some insane, heavily contested attempts during that stretch which helps explain the lower assist percentage. The mid-range accuracy is also steady but Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony, for example, had upticks from there while combining for six less shots around the rim per game. For Anthony, some of that’s obvious when looking at his scoring outbursts from those games. He’d have isolations against a defender like Tobias Harris, someone he could probably take off the dribble whenever he wanted, but pulled up from either the arc or mid-range with (to his credit) decent success.

Overall, the Knicks’ shot distribution was out of whack when factoring in how many shots were taken in high-efficiency spots (around the rim and the arc) versus low-efficiency ones (non-restricted area spots in the paint and mid-range). New York took about the same number of shots from each with a 49-46 high-low efficiency distribution versus Orlando and 45-44 against Atlanta. That’s not exactly great when teams on average take about 57.5 percent of their shots either around the rim or from the three-point line, and each of those games placed among the bottom 25 percent of all outings this season in terms of what percentage of a team’s shots were taken from high-efficiency spots of the floor.

For the season, New York has been slightly above average with their distribution between high-efficiency shots and low ones, currently at 58.1 percent. Part of that isn’t surprising when they take the sixth-most threes per game, but they also take more shots from mid-range than they do at the rim, something the Blazers, Pacers, Wizards, Cavaliers, Magic, and Celtics do. Last year, 66.1 percent of their shots were from around the rim or three. That would’ve ranked 2nd this year.

Is this all something to panic over? The Knicks are in a state of panic as is. As constructed, though, they’re a team that relies on scoring with range with or without some their players currently injured. Once in a while there will be nights like the last two where they’ll fall head over heels in love with the jump shot, and along with their inconsistent defense it will cost them games. To be an optimist, though, there’s also the potential for their shooting to catch fire and get them back in the playoff hunt. Heck, it might open up more looks at the rim.

Whether New York lives or dies by the jump shot, it’s been remarkable watching just how much they can attach to it. They’ll host Dallas tonight, a team in the middle of the pack in allowing both shots around the rim and threes, according to NBA.com. Whether the Knicks continue to look allergic to the paint is something to look for along with the chance Vince Carter scores a season-high at the Garden.

%d bloggers like this: