Ron Baker shook his head when he considered the box score. While he was answering general questions about the loss, he turned the focus on himself. In 40 minutes while filling in for the injured Derrick Rose, Baker missed 10 of his 12 field goal attempts, including all five of his three-point shots.
He had several open looks as a result of good ball movement. The shots just missed.
This has been a common theme over the past two years. The Triangle Offense creates shots, but it’s not about taking them, it’s about making them.
For a third-straight season, the Knicks are among the worst shooting teams in the NBA. They currently have the eighth-lowest field goal percentage (44.7%) in the league.
The Triangle Offense tends to produce more mid-range shots. In an era where league-wide three-point attempts increase each year, the Triangle does not utilize the three-ball. The Knicks attempt 24.8 threes per game, which is the 11th fewest in the league.
Here’s the issue: the Knicks take the fourth-most two-point shots in the league and rank 28th out of 30 teams in shooting percentage (48.4%).
Meanwhile, take a look at this table of the top-5 teams that shoot the highest volume of shots from inside the three-point arc. There is a common theme among them. Can you find it?
Team 2PA 2P%
PHX 65.5 48.4
DET 65.3 49.2
CHI 65.0 48.1
NYK 63.9 48.4
MIN 62.8 50.7
Here’s the answer: None of these teams are currently in the playoffs. The Pistons are in a tailspin and the Bulls have fallen out of the eighth spot.
Now let’s look at the last season before the Triangle was introduced. The Knicks were not a playoff team in 2013-14, but after a late push, they just missed clinching a fourth-straight bid after an injury-riddled season.
That season, the Knicks ranked 16th in FG% (44.9%). They averaged 24.9 threes per game, which is slightly more than this season’s team, but ranked fifth in the league at the time. More importantly, they shot 37.2% from downtown, which was seventh in the league.
The year before, which was the 54-win season, the Knicks were the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the league (28.9 per game) and fifth in percentage (37.6%).
Remember when people said that wasn’t a sustainable offense? Remember the constant “live-and-die with the three” mantra?
How’s that looking right about now?
As for the defense, it may be less about personnel and more about priority. Last season’s team, with arguably less talent (though Robin Lopez was an unheralded anchor), was far more effective on defense. The Knicks finished the season in the top-10 in scoring defense (101.1 points per game). This season, the Knicks are allowing 108.4 points per game, which is the fifth-highest in the league.
I gave this stat last night in my pregame Fix segment on Knicks Game Night and it certainly says it all about the difference in the defensive effort this season compared to last:
Alan Hahn discusses Jeff Hornacek's recent comments about creating good karma with wins down the stretch and looks ahead to the guard-heavy 2017 NBA Draft.
In 2015-16, the Knicks held their opponent under 100 points in 40 games.
In 2016-17, the Knicks have held their opponent under 100 points in 13 games. That’s the fewest amount of sub-100 defensive games in 28 years.