The New York Knicks started off the season in terrible fashion going 9-21 in 2013. Since January 1st, the Knicks are 6-2, with wins against the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
The early success in 2014 was a good sign, but J.R. Smith’s benching has dominated the headlines. Smith was benched in the win against Miami after he was fined 50,000 dollars for unsportsmanlike conduct. Smith was also benched in the Knicks’ loss to the Bobcats on Tuesday.
Smith’s issues are troubling, but the Knicks have a more pressing issue to address if they want to keep winning.
Their jump shooting.
According to 82games.com, 73 percent of the Knicks shots are jumpers. They are only converting on 45.5 percent of those attempts.
The Knicks are also averaging 24 three point attempts per game, and converting at a 36 percent rate.
The Knicks high volume jump shooting is also hurting them at the free throw line. Opponents are shooting 25.6 free throws a game against the Knicks, while the Knicks only get to the line 18.5 times a game. The lack of free throw attempts is compounded by the Knicks only shooting 76 percent from the charity stripe.
Carmelo Anthony — who leads the Knicks in free throw attempts — still takes jumpers 74 percent of the time. Anthony is shooting 45 percent from the field, as he did last season, but he is averaging almost one less free throw attempt (6.7) than last year (7.6).
The Knicks have to work on utilizing their post players more often and not settling for jumpers. The majority of the Knicks’ roster is comprised of jump shooters, but Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire can score and distribute from the post.
Stoudemire has improved his post game in the past two years, and it shows in his 54.2 percent field goal percentage. If Stoudemire can continue to stay healthy he can be a valuable asset for the Knicks.
Elite defenses make jump shooting difficult. A player like Stoudemire, that can score close to the basket, allows a team to get easy baskets and open shots for teammates.
The Knicks will face an elite defense in the Indiana Pacers tonight. It will be a good test for the Knicks to gauge their improvement.
The Knicks have played well in 2014, but their jump shooting is still a concern. If the Knicks want to continue their winning ways they have to attack the basket tonight, and for the rest of the season.