X and O'S Breakdown of Why NY Knicks' Sizzling Start Makes Them Title Contenders
The Knicks still haven't lost a game, which at least allows us to address their odds of contending for a championship. It's possible, right?
I think Lloyd Christmas said it best: "So you're telling me there's a chance!"
Let's start with the offense. Check this out because everything's going to tie together at the end. Like that movie "Crash".
The Knicks have added savvy pass-first wings to complement their shoot-first scorers. The combination of an attacking point guard in Raymond Felton, with a secondary facilitator, has worked magic for their balance and rhythm. And this new rhythm has set up everything.
They're getting open looks and dribbling less.
The rhythm has made their shooters more effective.
It's like music. If the beat doesn't flow, the song's going to suck—regardless of how good the singer's voice is. Or Rick Ross's lyrics are (Joking, but not really.)
Steve Novak isn't going to make a higher percentage of threes when he's off-balance and has Luol Leng's gigantic arms in his face.
The Knicks are second in the NBA in three-point percentage. They make 12 three-pointers a game, which is three more than any team in the league. They're taking less pull-up threes and more spot-up ones, where they have room to catch, set and release.
The hot shooting has led to teams focusing on defending the three. From here, we talk about spacing.
A good portion of the game, the Knicks have three to four players on the floor who are threats from downtown. Knowing that, and knowing how well they're shooting, defenders can't afford to leave and help.
Below is perfect spacing, which the Knicks take advantage of by setting up the pick and roll with one of the best rolling targets in the game.
Below, we see Felton make his move, yet JJ Redick doesn't help in fear of leaving Kidd open. The man defending JR Smith doesn't want to help either (who is perfectly spaced in the corner), forcing Tyson Chandler's man to stop the ball.
That leaves Chandler open for the easy catch and finish.
Another reason as to why they're so dangerous is because they've finally discovered their biggest mismatch: Carmelo at the 4.
Below he's given the ball in power forward range, at about the twelve foot mark as opposed to 23. Take a look at what he does to Thaddeus Young, whose feet are actually quicker than most 6'8'' forwards.
With the quickness of a 3 and the strength of a 4, he's the ultimate mismatch from elbow to baseline. Carmelo looks capable this year of being that superstar who puts a team on his back and carries them into June.
Defensively, they're smarter. They anticipate and rotate better. JR Smith looks motivated. Felton is a bulldog. They've got experienced winning veterans to emphasize it's importance.
Not to mention the Defensive Player of the Year.
And when Iman Shumpert comes back, they'll have a lock-down perimeter defender. Maybe two with Ronnie Brewer.
To recap, the rhythm has led to open looks. The open looks have led to a high shooting percentage. A high shooting percentage has led to better spacing, which makes Melo more effective and the pick and roll game easy to execute.
The offense looks as potent as anyone's right now. Defensively they're rock solid. And they're still missing two potential starters.
The window is tiny, but if there's ever a year or two for New York, this is it.
Told you it would all tie together.
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