You may already be aware of this but the Knicks attempt a lot of 3-pointers. They also make a lot of 3-pointers. This inevitably leads to the discussion, similar to the Yankees “relying too heavily on the home run,” that the Knicks “live and die” by the 3-ball and that this style of play will hurt them in the playoffs.
What hurt the Yankees in the playoffs, though, wasn’t their inability to hit home runs; it was their inability to hit at all.
The 3-pointers the Knicks are getting are open looks created by good ball movement and floor spacing. Rarely are they forcing shots, instead hitting high percentage open attempts. Is it realistic to think that New York will continue to shoot at this pace throughout an entire 82-game season and into the playoffs? Probably not. But the 3-pointer, while a big part of the arsenal, is not the Knicks’ only strength.
Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler have been excellent in the pick-and-roll game, with last night being the most glaring example of just how successful it has been. Because of the Knicks’ ability to hit 3-pointers, and the number of players on the court at any given time that can shoot, the floor spacing is good enough that the pick-and-roll is effective.
The Knicks have been shooting threes and relying on pick-and-rolls to get into the paint, effectively eliminating the mid-range game. But if you can take a 2-pointer from 23 feet, 5 inches, or step back a bit and take a 3-pointer from 23 feet, 9 inches, why not get a little extra on the scoreboard?
The threat of the 3-ball is what opens up the interior game for the Knicks. While Tyson Chandler isn’t a back-to-the-basket post player, he’s having a career year offensively thanks to the spacing that the 3-point threat allows. Carmelo Anthony backing people down in the post, coupled with pretty much every player other than Chandler being a 3-point threat, is what opens up the middle of the court for the pick-and-roll and drives.
If the shots stop falling, regardless of where they are coming from, it’s hard for teams to win in the NBA. Sure, mid-range jumpers are higher percentage shots than 3-pointers, and the Knicks certainly could use an upgrade in their mid-range game, but open shots are open shots and the Knicks just happen to be getting them from beyond the arc. If not, they’re swinging the ball around to create openings or driving to the lane.
Right now, the Knicks are making a living off the 3-pointer. To call them one-dimensional, as some have, is a bit misleading, though. They’re making a living off the threat of the 3-ball and what that threat does to the defense.