Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE
What do the Knicks' three season-opening wins have in common?
Hey babies. It's way too early to be drawing conclusions and I'm really only doing this because there's so much time off before the next game...BUT there have been some clear themes evident through each of the Knicks' three wins and I'd like to just hash those out so we can track them from here forward. First, I recommend reading some more expert summaries of what New York has been doing. Zach Lowe, Boberta Silverman, and Matt Moore have each written on the Knicks' hot start, and all those pieces are worth a look. For a stat-heavy breakdown, I recommend Mark Simon's piece from today.
Now, here are a few specific trends from games one through three. Pretty much all this data comes from Basketball-Reference, and I'm trying to take numbers that accurately reflect production from all three games, instead of averages swayed by just one extreme (for instance, New York's rebounding numbers look weak, but that seems to be mostly because they got badly out-rebounded by the Sixers on Monday).
1. The Knicks are playing at an incredibly slow pace. This one stands out above all else. The Knicks are averaging about 89 possessions per 48 minutes, which is last in the league, and not a number that's skewed by one especially slow game or anything. Each of New York's three wins was down around there. How is this the case? I'd guess it's because the Knicks are taking excellent care of the ball (the league's fifth-lowest turnover percentage), cutting off first options with great defense, and running plenty of motion on offense before they look to score. Recall that the Knicks were near the top in pace factor last season, and also keep in mind that Philadelphia and Miami were both relatively slow teams last season (Miami's played a couple high-possession games since losing to the Knicks, but they were 15th last year), so we'll see how this changes after games against teams that want to play faster.
2. The Knicks are shooting and hitting an absurd number of threes. They've made more three-pointers through their first three games (43) than any other team in NBA history. They lead the league in attempts right now (and most other teams have played four games) while hitting 45 percent of those attempts, which is fifth overall.
3. The Knicks aren't getting to the line often, but they're shooting well when they get there. New York is 22nd in free throw attempts per field goal attempt. They've shot just 52 free throws over three games. On the other hand, New York is shooting 82.7 percent from the line so far, which is the league's third best mark.
Intermission: This is a good time to mention Jared Zwerling's piece about Dave Hopla. Whatever that magical man has done to the Knicks is working so far.
4. Inside the arc, the Knicks are shooting way better on the right side of the floor. You can find that in Simon's article. I just poked around VORPed a bit and it looks like Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, and J.R. Smith are the ones contributing to that trend so far. Tiny sample, but still cool.
5. The Knicks aren't fouling much. They're ninth in free throws per field goal attempt.
6. So far, the Knicks have the league's second most efficient offense and second most efficient defense. Cool. I think it's in New York's best interest to keep that up.
So, these are all things to keep an eye on (rebounding, too, because I think the Knicks may end up improved in that department) as the season progresses. What else do y'all see? Are there other trends you've noticed, whether or not you can find numbers to confirm them? Did I terribly misinterpret any stats?