The Knicks are playing at an incredibly slow pace. This one stands out above all else. The Knicks are averaging about 89 possessions per 48 minutes, which is last in the league, and not a number that’s skewed by one especially slow game or anything. Each of New York’s three wins was down around there. How is this the case? I’d guess it’s because the Knicks are taking excellent care of the ball (the league’s fifth-lowest turnover percentage), cutting off first options with great defense, and running plenty of motion on offense before they look to score. Recall that the Knicks were near the top in pace factor last season, and also keep in mind that Philadelphia and Miami were both relatively slow teams last season (Miami’s played a couple high-possession games since losing to the Knicks, but they were 15th last year), so we’ll see how this changes after games against teams that want to play faster.
Robert Silverman of the Times’ Off the Dribble blog made similar observations about the Knicks’ slow pace on offense to start the season, which is clearly in stark contrast to the Mike D’Antoni era.
I’m personally something of an agnostic when it comes to pace, I don’t really have a philosophy when it comes to low possession/high possession offensive systems, I generally think it has more to do with what personnel you have, or individual matchups against a given team. But again this is only a three-game sample, as Seth notes against two teams who generally played slow a season ago, which could account for the stark change, as well.
Given that the Knicks currently rank second in the league in offensive efficiency according to Basketball Reference I don’t really care how they’re doing it, and if I did have any particular aversion to D’Antoni it was kind of a reflexive wariness of coaches who have systems that personnel must be catered to as opposed to adjusting what you do to fit your personnel.
Anyway, will be interesting to see how this shake’s out, just a three-game trend that will even out over time, or a clear change in philosophy from D’antoni to Woodson, or maybe a little bit of both?