The New York Knicks are on a one game winning streak, which is quite an accomplishment considering they’ve won just three out of their last 16 games. But the victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves last night had little to do with the Knicks changing their bad habits and certainly not a specific one that has possibly played a large role in the Knicks’ struggles this year: They shoot too many mid and long-range jumpers and do not shoot enough free throws.
The numbers don’t lie. The Knicks are last in the NBA in points in the paint with an atrocious 33.8 per game. The Detroit Pistons lead that category with 52.6, and even the Brooklyn Nets — who are second to last in the NBA — score 37.2 PPG in the paint. Over the Knicks’ last three games, that number has dropped to 31.3 PPG in the paint. Points in the paint need to be highlighted here as they are the type of shot most likely to produce free throws.
The reason the Knicks do not score in the paint is because they’ve shot the second-most three-pointers in the NBA, having attempted 1,527 through 62 games this season. They trail only the Houston Rockets who have attempted 1,574. Furthermore, the Knicks have taken the majority of their shots this season from beyond 15 feet of the rim, 2,811 to be exact. They’ve taken just 2,320 shot attempts from less than 15 feet from the rim. The Knicks simply do not attack, which has led to them connecting on a league-low 913 free throws this season. They average 14.7 FTs per game on 19.6 attempts per game — both are last in the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony, on the other hand, is top ten in the NBA in getting to the charity stripe. He has gone to the line 413 times this season and connected on those at an 83.5 percent clip. However, Anthony’s source of getting to the free throw line isn’t from driving to the rim. Anthony scores 2.6 PPG on drives to the basket, whereas players Anthony is compared to like LeBron James and Kevin Durant score over six PPG on drives to the basket. Anthony scores 7.2 PPG on catch and shoot attempts, and 7.2 PPG on pull up shot attempts (he ranks 6th in the NBA in both categories). Both of those shots are of the mid to long-range variety.
So about last night’s win. The Knicks were 13-of-19 from the free throw line, which is more or less precisely their season average. They made 11 three-pointers on 27 attempts, which was right on par with their nine three-pointers made on 24.6 attempts per game average this season. There is little to take from last night’s victory; the Knicks are simply stuck in their ways. There is a reason why they’re called free throws, but the Knicks apparently prefer style over sustenance.