From Julius Randle’s struggles to a lack of overall ball movement, the Knicks’ offense has not been great to start the 2023-24 campaign.
After one of their most efficient offensive seasons in recent memory, the New York Knicks have taken a step back. What has factored into their abysmal offensive struggles through six games?
To be fair, the Knicks undoubtedly had the most difficult schedule to kick off the season, so their 2-4 shouldn’t entirely come as a surprise. What truly comes as a surprise, though, is the major offensive drop-off the team has had compared to last season. Last season, New York put up historic numbers on the offensive end, finishing the season with the 4th best offensive rating of all-time with a rating of 117.8. When compared to this season, the Knicks’ offensive rating drops down 12.7 points to a rating of 105.1.
While some offensive problems appear to be more clear and evident than others, there are several areas that New York needs to clean up as their schedule begins to ease up in the coming weeks.
Capitalizing from the Charity Stripe
The Knicks have done a great job so far this season to draw fouls, averaging 25.3 free throw attempts per game. The only issue is that New York has not been capitalizing on their chances when they can, shooting just 70.4% from the free throw line. If the Knicks were to be 5-10% better from the charity stripe, chances are that the outcome would have been different for New York, one that would have worked in their favor.
Specifically, it has been surprising to see Julius Randle struggle as much as he has from the free-throw line. After shooting 75% from the line last season, Randle is down to just 61.8% this season, a significant drop. We’re only 6 games in so there is plenty of room for improvement, but if the Knicks’ All-Star can’t find consistency at the line, he will become a liability for a team that has high hopes this season.
The Play of Julius Randle
It’s safe to say that this wasn’t something that Knicks fans had on their bingo card. After a career year averaging 25.1 points and 10.0 rebounds, his output on offense has been nothing short of disappointing. Randle is averaging 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 27.1% from the field and 22.5% from three.
While some of Randle’s shots were point-blank quality shots, other shots he’s taken have been questionable.
This cannot be the shot on a 4-on-2 fast break. pic.twitter.com/vVTlmr4kfo
— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) November 4, 2023
It’s clear as day that Randle is out of rhythm in terms of scoring on offense. Thankfully he hasn’t been fully out of commission. His ability to draw defenders toward him has allowed the Knicks’ perimeter players to get open for quality attempts at the basket. But if the Knicks want to bounce back in the coming weeks, Randle has to be more than just a playmaker. His ability to be a physical force out on the floor does wonders for the ‘Bockers and they just haven’t seen that out of him yet through six games. Randle’s play going forward will directly impact the team’s overall success this season.
Scoring on the Inside
Interior scoring has been a major issue for the Knicks. Not only has their shot frequency been low from within five feet of the basket, but their 51.3% shooting from that distance ranks as the worst in the league. Combined with having the least amount of points in the paint per game in the entire league, the Knicks need to shift their focus and not only attack the basket but finish through contact, regardless of whether there’s a foul or not.
Some people are going to be quick to point the finger at Julius Randle, but this goes beyond him. The team as a whole has not done a great job and has looked to the officiating crew to get some sort of call. Mitchell Robinson has struggled to put down his interior shots, which is something he has thrived on in years past.
With Robinson and Randle struggling on the interior, Thibodeau has given more burn time to Isaiah Hartenstein who has been putting in work, but the physicality and presence that the Knicks starting frontcourt has was a huge part of the way they played last season.
New York’s offense has looked extremely stagnant to start off this season. With the Knicks heavily relying on pick-and-roll and isolation plays more often than not, the team has become too predictable, which has forced them into bad shots. Between their lack of diversity in terms of play calling and no sort of engagement from Knicks players off the ball, the Knicks offense almost feels like a 1-on-5 at times with nobody else getting involved.
It feels like they haven’t been on the same page either, making careless mistakes that lead to throwing the ball out of bounds for a turnover. Attention to detail will be crucial going forward, and off-ball movement will be a focal point for a Knicks offense that has lacked differentiation.
The best teams in this league are always unselfish, working as a cohesive unit to get the best shot available. While New York has not looked like that at all to start the season, they do possess players who can really open something up on the floor. All it takes is a screen, a cut, or relocating to a different area on the floor for a shot to open up for someone, no matter who is out on the floor for the Knicks.
With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that the Knicks have only played six games of their 82-game schedule. At this point in the season just last year, the Knicks struggled to find their cohesion, specifically with their rotation. It wasn’t until the beginning of December last season that the team began to pick it up and ultimately finished at the top of the East last season. It’ll be up to Tom Thibodeau to ultimately adjust in the coming weeks to help a struggling Knicks offense gain some traction.