Offense, Not Defense, Is Key to New York Knicks Turning Season Around

Joshua J VannucciniSenior Analyst IIIDecember 5, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 1: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots over Ryan Anderson #33 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 1, 2013.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The New York Knicks are going nowhere quickly this season and are desperately looking for answers. The team is talented enough to perform better than it has, with offensively talented players in abundance on the roster. It should therefore be New York's offense that will lead the turnaround the team is looking for.

Despite being without Tyson Chandler the past few weeks, the Knicks are still a solid defensive team. They're allowing 99.1 points per game (good for No. 9 in the league), in addition to keeping opponents to 45.7 percent and 33.8 percent from the field and from long range, respectively.

Chandler's biggest contribution is on defense, but it seems the offense misses him more.

New York is presently one of the worst offensive teams in the league, locking up a spot amongst the bottom 10 teams in almost every major offensive category. Whether it's field-goal percentage, points scored, free-throw attempts or assists, the Knicks are right there with the worst offensive teams the NBA has to offer.

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 29: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks controls the ball against the Denver Nuggets on November 29, 2013 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or
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New York scores 92.8 points per game, tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for fourth worst in the NBA. The Knicks find themselves in the same ranking for field-goal percentage at 42.1 percent. The team's three-point shooting, which should be a strong suit considering the plethora of specialist shooters on the roster, checks in at third worst in the league at 32.2 percent.

It's confusing at this point regarding the Knicks' long-range troubles. The team currently has four players shooting below 30 percent from three, with Raymon Felton heading the notorious group at 25 percent. Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Metta World Peace join him, with Andrea Bargnani just escaping inclusion at 33.3 percent. 

This will likely improve over time, but New York can't wait for that to happen. It ranks seventh worst in assists at 19.5 per contest, with a solid 1.51 assist-to-turnover ratio that is almost in the top 10. The Knicks need to pass the ball more and run more plays to avoid isolation sets.

According to SynergySports(subscription required), Anthony plays isolation 21.4 percent of the time, with Smith going one-on-one 26.5 percent of the time. The duo shoot 36 percent and 32.4 percent, respectively, which would indicate deviating from this offensive set is in the team's best interest.

To be fair, New York is without Chandler and in turn a major contributor in pick-and-roll sets. Bargnani is doing his best to fill in, answering the call well thus far. He's run as the pick-and-roll man 28.9 percent of the time, shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from deep.

The Knicks don't have many other players to run the same set with, aside from Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire. STAT hasn't looked like himself the past two seasons, but New York may have no choice but to experiment. 

The offense runs Stoudemire as a post-up player 50 percent of the time—where he shoots 43.3 percent—with just 19 percent of his opportunities coming in the pick-and-roll. The Knicks need to force the issue and run an interactive offense, with everyone contributing in some way.

Cutting down on isolation plays—in favor of pick-and-rolls—will not only lead to a more free-flowing offense, but it will open up the floor for shooters as well. It's easy for opposing defenses to lock up New York's shooters if someone is going one-on-one, as the individual defenders can just stay at home on the perimeter.

If New York has two or more players constantly in action, it will help the offense on a monumental level. The team doesn't need to make any major changes defensively, as that side of its play has kept it in games. It's just been the offense that's let the Knicks down at the end of them.