Zach Lowe writes about the NBA for Sports Illustrated. He’s great at what he does.
Recently, Lowe posted a particularly interesting entry on his blog. He talks about STATS, and how the innovative analysis firm is taking the game to new heights. Lowe was allowed to take a look at the footage of two teams that took on STATS technology (tracking players, ball movement, refs, etc…) for a season. One of those teams was the New York Knicks.
There were a few interesting finds involving the Knicks. First of all, even if you already know this, it’s jarring to be told that the Knicks of last season finished among the top 10 teams in defense. Wilson Chandler be damned, that’s still pretty surprising. Specifically, STATS found some good stuff on NY’s two top basketball talents: Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Interestingly enough, Carmelo was at his best when driving the ball from 20 ft out to 10 ft in. Well, that probably shouldn’t be very surprising at all. Melo is an exceptional finisher, among the very best in basketball. Also, for his size, Anthony probably has the quickest shot in the league. He’s an explosive leaper and gets off the ground very, very quickly. So, yeah, no real surprise here.
There are a number of other bits and pieces of info. Carmelo evidently is the best driving offensive option in basketball and is also tops in efficiency when starting from the elbow area. What I’m interested in is what is being found on Amare Stoudemire. As it turns out, Amare gets more touches from the elbow than Anthony does (7 per game as opposed to less than 4 for Melo). Know what else? He was very inefficient. Amare opted to shoot the ball from this position 42% of the time, hitting 46% of those looks. As Lowe noted, you can compare that to Kobe’s 41% shooting from the same spot and see that Amare’s mark isn’t exactly terrible.
Here’s what you should take away from that: Anthony is New York’s best player. He needs to be the focus (exclusively) of the offensive playbook. Stoudemire needs to play like the 6’11” athletic monster that he is and stop shooting the rock so often. Granted, Amare has a pretty solid jumper, and when from below the foul line (where he can see the floor), he’s not a bad passer. But, on a team that boasts a player like Melo, you can’t be another guy that stops the ball to iso-up with your defender.
Amare’s skill set is a strength for the Knicks. No, he’s not a good defender. At all. And no, he’s not phenomenal on the boards. But, he’s a weapon nonetheless. The fact is that when defenses are dealing with having to close out on a guy like Novak and compressing when Carmelo drives it, Amare is almost always a mere pass-out away for the open jump shot. Though Stoudemire’s J wasn’t falling very often last year (about 32% from the field on jump shots), it’s still something that will keep defenses worried. Besides, there aren’t many in Madison Square that will hate a wide open jumper from Amare. They’ll start dropping eventually.
Like Lowe, and many others, I’m just interested in what New York does with all of this information.
The footage and data are all there. It’s on the New York Knicks now to make their adjustments.
Honestly, I’m convinced that Woodson is going to continue running this team the way he did in Atlanta: give your best player the ball, everyone else crash the boards, set screens, or get open.
The record ATL was sporting on the last season Woodson coached there? 53-29.
Your move, Madison Square.
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men , and blues music. Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim