The Knicks’ attitude and performance have changed as a result of their dedication to long-distance shots. Randle’s fourth 3-pointer in 12 minutes came on Monday. It was also a shot that exemplified the Knicks’ new look: This year’s edition allows 3-pointers. On Monday, 13 of the Knicks’ 19 shots — including five by Randle — came from behind the 3-point line in the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors.
The strategy has been a trademark of the Knicks’ new Bing Bong era, and it’s one of the reasons Thibodeau’s club is off to its best start since the 2012-13 season, with a 5-2 record. The Knicks set a team record for most 3-pointers in a game with 24 in their second game, en route to a 121-96 victory. The Knicks are taking 40.6 deep shots per game this season, which ranks them sixth in the NBA and is 10 higher than the previous season when they were near the bottom of the league in attempts.
“You can make up ground quickly with the 3,” Thibodeau said. The Knicks attempted 36 of them on Monday, making less than half of them, and suffering their second loss of the season, a 114-103 loss to the Raptors. While the Knicks didn’t attempt as many three-pointers last season, they were extremely accurate when they did: 39.2 percent overall, which was good for third in the NBA. They’re near the top inaccuracy this year, but with higher volume. For the first time since that 2012-13 club, the Knicks are on pace to have a top-five offense.
The Knicks have ramped up their tempo as well, albeit only marginally. The Knicks finished dead last in fast-break points last season. Before Monday’s game, Toronto Coach Nick Nurse observed, “I think this is the fastest I’ve seen them play in a long time.” Still, switching to a 3-point-heavy offense wasn’t as simple as asking the players to shoot more of them. Kemba Walker has taken that place this season, and he was shooting an almost unsustainable 57.9% on 3-pointers as of Monday night.
Walker and Evan Fournier are excellent ballhandlers, and their addition, combined with RJ Barrett’s better play, allows the Knicks to more easily break down defenses and produce open looks on the perimeter. It’s also helped that Mitchell Robinson is back in the starting lineup. This allows the Knicks to create more open looks on the perimeter. If there’s one worrying sign, it’s that the Knicks have been below average on defense, which is unusual for a Thibodeau-coached team.
While the Knicks have been shooting a lot of threes, they have also been giving up a lot – more than all but two NBA clubs. Walker and Fournier, their recent recruits, aren’t known for their defense. The Knicks gave up looks — and points — on the inside and outside to Raptors forward OG Anunoby, who finished with 36 points on Tuesday. Even though Toronto only made 14 of its 42 3-point attempts in the second half, it was enough to give them a double-digit advantage. However, the new-look Knicks appear to have the personnel to justify their early confidence, with a slick, contemporary offense.
Knicks Fall To Raptors Amid Flurry Of 3-Pointers – The New York Times. (2021, November 2). For Knicks, Success (and Failure) Arrives 3 Points at a Time.