Last year’s New York Knicks team finished the regular season with the league’s third-best offense, lighting up scoreboards around the country with a very unorthodox style of play. The Knicks started two point guards nearly all year and played Carmelo Anthony as the nominal “power forward” rather than using two traditional big men in the starting lineup. The result was one of the most unique offenses in NBA history.
The Knicks’ offense was heavily isolation-based (they were dead last in assist rate), but their once-inefficient iso plays were able to generate efficient shots because of their tremendous offensive spacing. Without two big men clogging the paint, Melo was able to attack off the dribble and bully opponents in the post at will. J.R. Smith, the team’s second-leading scorer, also found success in both attacking the basket and pulling up for jumpers.
While the Knicks may not be starting a two-point guard tandem this year (Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni both improved the team’s ball movement when either one was in the starting lineup) they should still have plenty of spacing to operate with. Mike Woodson is still deciding between Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace as the other starting forward next to Melo, and both of them have to be guarded out to the three-point line. Raymond Felton and Prigioni are both above-average from deep, and Melo and Iman Shumpert both improved dramatically last year as long-distance shooters. Shump might be the team’s best deep threat this season after shooting better than 40 percent from beyond the arc last year. He’s also shown off a recently-improved off-the-dribble jumper which could come in handy. Last year’s Knicks hit more threes than any team in league history, and they should continue to be an excellent shooting team this year even though their three-point percentage may drop slightly with the absence of Steve Novak and Chris Copeland.
The Knicks also still have the effective Felton-Tyson Chandler pick-and-roll option. Chandler has a stellar reputation as a defensive player, but his impact on the team’s offense is often underestimated. He’s good for 10 points a night on an extremely high field goal percentage (a result of him only taking efficient shots around the rim), he sets solid, physical screens to free up the team’s scorers, and he’s also the team’s best offensive rebounder with a knack for tipping hard-to-reach balls to teammates in a better position to score.
The other hallmark of the Knicks’ offense was limiting turnovers. They put up an incredible turnover differential last year, which is part of why their offense was so efficient despite middling efficiency inside the arc and relatively few free throw attempts. As an offense with great spacing and an isolation-heavy attack, turnovers were few and far between, allowing the Knicks to amass points by taking far more shots than their opponents. They attempted 324 more field goals than their opponents last year, per Basketball-Reference.com, and those numbers definitely add up over time.
The bench should also be a strong scoring unit. They’ll have the services of J.R. Smith, either Andrea Bargnani or Metta World Peace, Tim Hardaway Jr.‘s sharpshooting, Amar’e Stoudemire (if he can stay healthy) and Beno Udrih, who should provide a bit more scoring punch than Jason Kidd did last year.
Just like last year the Knicks will be relying on their offense to win games, and once again they should be able to score at an elite rate.