Zach Lowe has an excellent breakdown of the strength of the Knicks’ offense this season over at Grantland, and addresses the lingering question of whether the Knicks are taking too many threes. While the Knicks currently have the league’s most efficient offense, they are also on pace to shoot the most three-pointers in the history of the NBA and are shooting a robust 41% from downtown, which is, you know, good. This has caused some (ahem, Barkley) to question whether the Knicks’ hot shooting is sustainable.
Lowe argues that there is nothing to suggest that there is anything fundamentally flawed about the team’s attack, nor reason to think they won’t be able to continue to be one of the league’s best:
In other words: The Knicks are jacking a ton of triples, but they really aren’t that different from some very good teams that came before them. The combination of so many 3’s and so few free throws might be problematic, but it’s not atypical — one can lead to the other — and the Knicks make up for the free throw disparity by holding onto the ball.
When I asked head coach Mike Woodson before last night’s Lakers game if the record pace concerned him, he admitted he wasn’t aware of it. “I didn’t even know,” he told reporters during his pregame press session. “I don’t care. You just gotta make ’em.”
Another reason not to worry: New York is generally getting really good looks from outside, owing mostly to the development and health of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.
Honestly, this is becoming a tiresome line of argument. At 17-5, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Knicks are for real. Will they continue to shoot threes at 41%? Probably not, but will a few percentage point drop off cause the entire season to be derailed? Absolutely not.
Now, wondering whether some cold shooting could ultimately doom them over a short playoff series may be a legitimate concern, but it’s not like the Knicks’ offense is entirely reliant on its three-point marksmen. They do have a player who is fairly consistently able to create his own offense, a fella by the name of Carmelo Anthony whose work you may be enjoying.
Similarly, the return of Amar’e Stoudemire, while prophesied as some sort of doomsday by many, will actually give Mike Woodson enormous flexibility, and pretty much allow them to play their preferred style even when Melo is on the bench. Yes, folks, it is quite possible that adding another dynamic offensive player might even make the offense better. Who knew?
After years of impotent failure, some Knicks’ skepticism is understandable, but it may be time to ease the relentless suspicion about New York’s three-point gunning. It turns out hitting those shots may be a good thing, from what I hear, they even give you three points for it.