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Are the Knicks One of the Best Shooting Teams in NBA History?

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Are the Knicks One of the Best Shooting Teams in NBA History?
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The New York Knicks arrived to the AmericanAirlines Arena seeking their second statement victory of the 2012-13 season over the defending champion Miami Heat.

They left with a 112-92 victory, the most lopsided home defeat for Miami since LeBron James and Chris Bosh famously took their talents to South Beach in the summer of 2010.

Despite playing without Carmelo Anthony (hand), the Knicks unleashed an overwhelming offensive barrage. They continued their blistering hot perimeter shooting (18-of-44), which has championship thoughts sweeping the Big Apple.

Five players (Jason Kidd, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Novak, Ronnie Brewer and J.R. Smith) have connected on at least 40 percent of their three-point attempts (with a minimum of 25 tries). To put those numbers in perspective, there are nine teams (Boston, Chicago, Denver, Indiana, Minnesota, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland and Sacramento) without a single shooter at or above that mark.

For the second time in 2012-13, the Knicks had too many shooters for the Heat.

Clearly, coach Mike Woodson's team knows how to shoot the basketball. Two other teams have three-point percentages better than New York's 40.8 mark (Oklahoma City, 42.1, and Miami, 41.3). But even the shooters on those clubs can't compare to the depth of New York's snipers. The Thunder and Heat have a combined six players (three each) shooting above 40 percent from three.

With so many shooters and so much long-range success, the question bears asking: where does this current Knicks team rank among the league's all-time greatest shooting teams?

Remember those Sacramento Kings teams of the early 2000s. A collection of gifted shooters and willing passers, surely they could outshoot this Knicks team, no? No, they could not. Despite the prolific duo of Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic on board, they struggled to add a third 40 percent perimeter shooter (let alone a fourth or fifth).

Or what about the pick-your-poison duo of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in Seattle? The team even bolstered its arsenal with Brent Barry and Vladimir Radmanovic. Still, they barely managed to keep two shooters above 40 percent.

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Don Nelson's Dallas Mavericks teams had more shooters than just Steve Nash, Hubert Davis, Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki. In fact, the team even got 40 percent-plus efforts from bigs Raef LaFrentz and (wait for it) Wang Zhizhi. They managed three players above the mark in 2002-03 (Nash, LaFrentz and Raja Bell), but that's where they maxed out.

Nash took his talents to the desert prior to the 2004-05 season, where he teamed with a hoard of prolific shooters: Joe Johnson, Jim Jackson, Leandro Barbosa, Quinton Richardson, Tim Thomas, Raja Bell, Eddie House and James Jones. They cracked the four-player barrier in 2005-06 (Barbosa, Bell, Nash and Thomas), but that was their peak.

So that just about wraps things up, right? Clearly these Knicks are on pace for the best three-point shooting performance in NBA history.

Not so fast.

There's one NBA team from the past that eclipsed what the Knicks have accomplished this season. And it's not one that jumps to the forefront when most fans think about elite shooting teams.

The 1996-97 Charlotte Hornets wouldn't typically show up on the NBA's historical radar. The team had a solid, yet unspectacular season that year, finishing with 54 regular season victories and a first-round sweep at the hands of the Knicks.

But thanks to an unbelievable three-point display, these marksmen were the end all, be all of elite shooting teams. They took a LeBron James approach to 40 percent shooters: not one, not two, not three, etc. Six different players (Ricky Pierce, Glen Rice, Tony Delk, Anthony Goldwire, Dell Curry and Muggsy Bogues) converted at least 41.7 percent of their three-point attempts (with a minimum of 50 attempts).

The NBA couldn't move the three-point line far enough to bother Curry and his teammates.

So the Knicks have work to do if they hope to be considered the best long-range shooting team in league history. But with Raymond Felton clawing at the 40 percent door (39.5), they've already entrenched themselves in the discussion.

Of course, New York fans might have another goal in mind for the Eastern Conference's best team (14-4).

 

All statistics used in this article are accurate as of 12/5/2012.

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