What Goes Around Needs to be Spread Around

The Knicks have had at least five glaring problems recently that have contributed to their being just 9-12 since the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups from Denver.  Those five are:

1.  The need for practice time so the new players know the offense and defense;
2.  The players are feeling tired;
3.  The team is shooting poorly;
4.  The team either digs an early hole or collapses late in the game;
5.  Some of the players aren’t feeling overly confident

In looking at the play-by-play for a few of the Knicks’ worst recent losses, I’ve noticed some patterns that, if changed, should take care of all of the listed problems and get the team winning again.  It appears that many of the games that look like they’ve been lost in the fourth quarter were actually lost long before because of those patterns.  They are:

A.  Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony often play large blocks of time without shooting;
B.  Chauncey Billups often goes too many minutes between shots;
C.  Players often launch 3-point shots right after checking in and before getting loose.  Those early 3s often miss.
D.  Too many shots are being taken by the wrong players at the wrong times

The large blocks of time that Amar’e and Carmelo play without taking shots cause a few problems.  For scorers, running for 12 minutes and getting a handful of shots is fun.  Running 6 minutes without getting any shots can feel tiring.  Great offensive players get boosts of energy from scoring and Amar’e and Carmelo are missing out on those boosts frequently during the game.

Not shooting for a long time has another impact for any player.  When he finally gets a shot, he isn’t loose and often misses.  So it hurts the team and it can also hurt the player’s confidence.  Why did he just miss a shot he normally makes?  Although there’s a good reason for missing, the player’s confidence may lag.  That will impact the rest of his game.

So Amar’e and Carmelo each need to be taking at least one shot each every 3 to 4 minutes.  Chauncey needs to take a shot every 4 to 6 minutes.  If he does that, his Knicks FG% will go up and more closely resemble his FG% in Denver.

As for players launching 3s within a minute of getting into the game, they often result in a rebound.  When players haven’t been in the game for awhile, they need to get loose before they take a shot and, more than likely, they need to start out by taking a 10-to-15 footer rather than launching from behind the 3-point line.  Although they occasionally hit those early 3s, what I’ve seen so far indicates that they’re hitting them at a much lower percentage than normal.  Getting loose and shooting higher percentages shots after long layoffs will be a big help. 

In Wednesday’s 4-point, come-from-behind win against the Nets, there were at least four occasions where players launched a shot less than a minute after they returned from a long rest and/or their first shot upon returning was a 3-pointer.  All four of those shots missed.  Misses are a normal part of the game but taking shots that have almost a 0% chance of going in isn’t a good idea.

Last but not least, the large blocks of time where either Amar’e and Carmelo are on the floor but don’t shoot are often filled with a lot of shots by players who don’t need to be taking that many shots in that short a period of time, even if they’re making them.  Keep something in mind – if a sub, for example, takes five shots in five minutes, the big guns, Amar’e and Carmelo, are tightening up and getting tired.  So those 6 or 7 points that the sub scores come at a price – future misses by the big two.

The Knicks need to spread their shots around.  Everyone needs to shoot somewhat regularly in order to stay loose and involved.  But Amar’e and Carmelo are expected to get more of the shots and they need to shoot regularly, too.  As an example of a guideline, for every 10 shots the Knicks take, Amar’e and Carmelo need to take 6 between them, Chauncey at least 1, and the other 3 should be spread among the remaining players.  This doesn’t have to be followed strictly – it’s just a guideline – but if things get too far away from the guideline, they may need to call someone’s number to get them the shot or shots they need.

Sharing the wealth goes both ways.  If Amar’e, Carmelo, and Chauncey are taking too many shots, it can be bad for the team as well.  In the 4th quarter of that come-from-behind win, they took 14 of the 23 shots but had only 4 of the 10 makes.  Sheldon Williams’ 3-for-3 in the quarter was vital to the win.  But despite the fact that he started that night, those were the only 3 shots he took in the game.  If he’d been as rusty as many players would have been getting their first shots that late, the Nets might have hung on for the win and there’d be a lot more concern among Knicks fans as they looked ahead to the game against the Cavaliers, a team that seems to have the Knicks’ number.

In basketball, as in life, good decisions and balance are important parts of success.

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4 Responses

  1. […] it’ll allow the coaches to make sure that the right people are taking enough shots.  See “What Goes Around Needs to be Spread Around” for how shot frequency impacts the Knicks’ 46% […]

  2. […] all means, let’s see the shots distributed better (last season’s “What Goes Around Needs to Be Spread Around” still applies).  But let’s do it in a way that ensures not only the increased success of […]

  3. […] the past few weeks.  In the past couple of days, I’ve recycled last season’s post about the need to distribute the ball differently.  And this article will draw from December’s “Quick Fix For Sick […]

  4. […] reasons that they might be shooting < 46% are addressed in another post, “What Goes Around Needs to Be Spread Around”    This identifies some imbalances in shot distribution and timing that can be corrected to get […]

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