Breaking Down NY Knicks' Go-to Offensive Set
Through the first nine games of the 2012-13 NBA campaign, the New York Knicks have the best record in the league. Defense has been a strong suit for Mike Woodson's club, but the team's knack for scoring 100-plus points per game has helped it win decisively.
Carmelo Anthony's Knickerbockers are the second-most productive offense in the Eastern Conference, largely due to their league-leading 11 three-pointers per game.
New York has found ways to get Carmelo the ball and space while maintaining opportunities for spot-up shooters and high-post big men.
How does Woodson make this happen? What is the Knicks' go-to set?
The main setup involves Raymond Felton starting with the ball just beyond mid-court and Tyson Chandler setting up at the high post, sometimes even at the top of the key.
The positioning of the wings varies, but Carmelo's location is always in mind and always a critical part of the play. In this particular variation, the Knicks give Carmelo his own side, while Jason Kidd and Ronnie Brewer set up on the other side of Chandler.
From there, Anthony can go to work on his defender and read the help defense. Tyson Chandler may be available for a dump-pass as he slides down to the block, or one of the shooters might be left unattended.
Giving Anthony the ball on the wing like this gives him plenty of space and options. Also, the defense will tend to focus on him so much that they inadequately adjust to screens away from the ball.
'Melo's devastating one-on-one skills and the outside shooting prowess of his teammates present opponents with a difficult task every night.
What about the low post? Anthony has been extremely effective there as well. ESPN's Ryan Feldman notes that more than a quarter of 'Melo's points in 2012-13 have come on post-ups.
New York uses the previously-examined formation, except 'Melo moves to the block and a guard is on the corresponding wing to feed him the ball. Felton passes from the top of the key to the wing and the wing feeds Carmelo the ball, like Jason Kidd does here:
If proper spacing is implemented, Anthony should have enough room to choose whether he wants to face up or back his defender down.
In this post-up setup pictured above, 'Melo received the ball on the left block from Jason Kidd. Once he did, Kidd moved from the left wing to the right, and Felton shifted toward the left wing for an open spot-up chance. Anthony drew a double-team, kicked it out to Felton, and Felton buried the shot.
One other action the Knicks love to run off this base set is the high pick-and-roll with Chandler and Felton.
Let's take a look at the setup as Chandler sets the pick beyond the three-point line. Note that J.R. Smith is out of the picture in the right corner, while 'Melo is setting up in the left corner.
A young New Orleans Hornets squad scrambled to defend the pick-and-roll while keeping an eye on Anthony. As a result, J.R. Smith was able to shift toward the right wing unnoticed, and got a clean three-point look. He missed the shot, but that's beside the point.
In that variation, Felton has the option of driving all the way, dumping it to Chandler on the pick-and-roll partnership or passing it out to a shooter.
So far in 2012-13, the Knicks have been able to get the most out of their personnel's talents. They use Tyson Chandler's mobility and range in the high post, Carmelo's wing and post versatility and the shooters' spot-up talents.
Amar'e Stoudemire should be able to fit in well in this formation, and he can work interchangeably as the No.5 or No. 4 in this set.
As long as New York maintains good spacing, its shooters keep converting and Anthony continues to make good decisions, the Knicks will score their way to a No. 3 seed or better.
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