Ian Levy of Hickory High put together a nice little summary of NBA teams' application of the pick-and-roll-- how often they use it, how effectively they use it, and how those numbers break down into plays finished by the ball-handler versus those finished by the friend setting the screen. If you're interested, I recommend that you take a look at the graphs and poke around in the chart yourself, but here are the numbers of note regarding our Knicks:
- 15.1 percent of Knick plays include a pick-and-roll, which puts them 23rd overall in pick-and-roll frequency.
- 78.8 percent of Knick pick-and-rolls end with the ball-handler trying to score, which is the second-highest frequency in the league. Knick pick-and-roll ballhandlers average 0.82 points per possession (PPP), which puts them ninth in the league.
- Thus, 21.2 percent of Knick pick-and-rolls end with the screener trying to score, which is the second-lowest frequency in the league. Knick pick-and-roll screeners average 1.16 PPP, which is the fifth-best number in the league.
- The Knicks' overall pick-and-roll PPP collapsed across finisher is 0.89, which is eighth best in the league.
So, if I may attempt to simply the above: The Knicks run one of the league's better pick-and-rolls, but they run it very infrequently. When they do run the pick-and-roll, they almost always let the ball-handler finish, and he does so relatively effectively. On the rare occasions that the Knicks feed the screener, he finishes even more effectively (and relatively more effectively when compared to his counterparts).
Now, my Synergy account isn't up and running yet, so I can't compare the above data to previous years' data (and I'd probably be too lazy to do that even if it were), but I think it's safe to guess that 1. The Knicks would like to run a lot more pick-and-rolls. and 2. The Knicks would like to run a lot more pick-and-rolls that feed the screener.
And that's why a lot of us are hoping Baron Davis can reinvigorate this offense upon returning. He isn't an elite pick-and-roll one by any means, but it seems reasonable to expect an offense with a truer, more polished point guard to run Mike D'Antoni's most beloved play more frequently than eighth-to-last in the league and more effectively (particularly in terms of hitting the man rolling to the basket) than the Knicks have been thus far. And the funny thing is that it seems they HAVE been running it effectively, just not frequently and not with the ideal balance.