While the Knicks have (rightly in this humble opinion) been praised for the fluid ball movement that has catapulted their league-leading offense, Dan over at Knicks FanBlog notes how the numbers haven’t necessarily backed up that perception.
The Knicks assist on 16.1% of their makes – good for 24th in the league. Not sure what to make of that number – since my eyes don’t really tell me that the squad over-relies on ISO. But the Knicks just don’t assist. They’re first in unassisted 2 pointers (61.3% of their twos) and second in unassisted threes (46.4% of their threes). They’re second to last in unassisted FGM. And for all of the accolades ‘Melo has gotten about passing out of double teams and whatnot, his assist rate is at a career low by far (7.1%) (same with Felton).
If I’m venturing a guess, the explanation here is that the Melo passing that’s actually being praised so far isn’t the kind that necessarily shows up in the stat sheet. It’s not that he’s facilitating the offense and handing out dimes, but rather he’s just shown an excellent ability at deciding when to pass out of double teams and when to attack himself. Lots of these passes don’t necessarily show up in assists, but they begin the process by which the ball ping-pongs around the court until it finds a ready shooter. And while it’s absolutely true that the Knicks have run less isolation plays for Anthony this season, he’s still doing the bulk of his scoring either in isolation or on post-ups so that’s going to lead to a good amount of unassisted hoops.
Similarly, in good part because of the lack of scoring punch from a missing Amar’e, the Knicks have required Felton to pick up some of that slack. He’s been scoring at a higher clip than I think most would have expected and, for fairly obvious reasons, a lot of those buckets are of the unassisted variety, as well.
Nonetheless, file this under “for what it’s worth,” it’s certainly possible that the eyes have been telling lies, but I’ve seen too much pretty passing from this group to worry about it all that much, and frankly my preference is the ball just end up in the basket regardless of how it gets there, but what says you?