One month ago, if any person with an inkling of NBA knowledge predicted that Rasheed Wallace would be the New York Knicks' first big man off the bench, you likely would've questioned if that person just awoke from a decade-long coma. It's OK, I would've done the same.
Well, a month into the 2012-13 season, the 38-year-old Wallace is feeding us a nice meal consisting of our own words.
He's leapt over Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby on the depth chart as Tyson Chandler's relief. His stat line of 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game (in 15.7 minutes per) normalizes to 17.8 points (third on the Knicks), 10.2 boards (also third) and 1.9 swats (second) per 36 minutes.
Let's make this clear before we get into the analysis: 'Sheed's contributions this season have been awesome for the Knicks. Few expected him to step foot on the court at all this season, and he's done that and plenty more. He's been a key piece to the puzzle during New York's 10-4 start.
With all that said, when the ball is in Wallace's hands this year, the odds are he's making an ill-advised decision. Let me explain what I mean with some visual help.
Maybe the following gripes I have with Wallace's play are results of his "show y'all how post players really need to play" comments he made last month. Here are a few more numbers:
Forty-eight percent of Wallace's shots (47-of-98) have come from beyond the arc, according to NBA.com's Advanced Stats.
In fourth quarters, he's taken more shots from beyond the arc (11) than he has in the painted area (10).
Seventy-two percent of his attempts are jump shots, according to 82games. Not pictured here, however, is that more than half his shots are being taken in the early portion of the shot clock.
He's shooting at an 80 percent clip on shots from inside nine feet, according to numbers from HoopData.
Basically, even though Rasheed can show us how post players "need to play," he's choosing not to. Instead, he's taking (often ill-advised) three-pointers, and the Knicks continue to lack a true inside presence offensively.
Here's proof of how efficient Wallace is as a post-up player.
Clearly, it's not a matter of if Wallace can bang bodies from close to score; he's clearly capable. The physical toll it takes on his 38-year-old frame shouldn't be a factor either, since he's only getting 16 minutes of burn on average.
Rasheed normally isn't a primary screener on pick-and-roll plays either, but we've seen him prove effective using that attack as well. With Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni running the show—all of whom are experienced pick-and-roll guards—there's no reason the oldest play in the book shouldn't be used to Wallace's advantage.
The Knicks have been outscored in the paint in all but two games this season. Wallace could help solve this issue, but very seldom is he being utilized that way. Instead, he's providing shots from distance on a team that already has six 40-plus-percent three-point shooters (minimum six attempts). Wallace is not one of those six, despite leading the team in three-point attempts per 36 minutes, with 8.5.
The sheer fact that after a two-year layoff, Wallace is providing impact minutes for a team that intends to compete deep into the playoffs is astounding. Nobody is questioning Wallace's work ethic.
But if 'Sheed can demand the ball closer to the basket and let Mike Woodson's jump-shooters do the jump-shooting, we may be ready to dub the Knicks the league's most complete offensive team.
Even if it means we don't get to watch him "take it to the head" nearly as often.
Follow John Dorn on Twitter at @JSDorn6.
All stats are accurate as of games played prior to Nov. 30.