The Knicks are back! And they're still shooting threes -- 9-21 on Wednesday night. Not a bad opening act, folks! Also, that number drops to 9-20 if you exclude Chris Smith...and, really, why the hell would you include Chris Smith in anything!
On today's exciting conclusion to Three Week, we'll take a look at three more relevant Knick Knewcomers and how they might fit in to the three-happy offense we've all come to love.
Metta World Peace
Hooo-boy, did Metta ever take some funky shots in his first preseason game. He also took two threes, hitting one. I'm happy to announce that, given his recent history, those open threes are much more a part of his regular-season game than those off-balance, Melo-wannabe fadeaways.
The name "Metta World Peace" usually conjures up thoughts of defense, talking to the cops in Cookie Monster pajamas, that weird look on his face when he elbowed James Harden and being too sexy for his cat. He's not nearly as well-known for his three-point shooting as his new teammate, Andrea Bargnani. But what do the numbers reveal?
Here are Bargnani's career three-point numbers, per 36 minutes.
And here are Ron Artest/Metta World Peace's per-36-minute numbers through the same seven-year period.
In terms of three-point shooting, Bargnani and Metta have been virtually the same players over the past seven years. The only real difference is that Bargnani set his career high for three-point attempts per 36 minutes in his first year, while Metta set his career high last year.
For the last five seasons, Metta has played the good soldier, adjusting his three-point output to match the offensive scheme of whatever coach he happened to be playing for. When he played for Rick Adelman in Houston -- a top-10 three-point offense -- he shot 5.6 attempts per 36 minutes. When he moved on to the Lakers and their less three-centric offenses under Phil Jackson and Mike Brown, his three-point attempts dutifully dropped. And when Mike D'Antoni took over the Lakers early last season, Metta's attempts skyrocketed.
Metta's 2012-13 season was a model of modern shooting efficiency -- of his 825 field goal attempts, 426 came from beyond the arc and 213 came at the rim. That means 77.5 percent of his shot output came from the two happy areas. And the Lakers benefited from Metta's mature shot selection -- the offense scored 3.8 more points per 100 possessions with Metta on the court, a number second only to Kobe Bryant.
This is exactly the kind of shot output the Knicks prided themselves on last season, and hope to produce again in 2013-14. Preseason wackiness aside, if Metta shoots like he did last season, he'll fit in perfectly with this offense.
Udrih is a career 35.2-percent three-point shooter, which is perfectly fine. Like most role players who have moved around during their careers, however, it's important to remember the various offenses he played in.
Udrih started out his career in the three-point factory that is San Antonio. As one might expect from a reserve San Antonio guard, he shot a lot of threes -- 4.4 3PA per 36 minutes. He shot over 40 percent in his first year, but slumped to 28.7 percent in year three.
As he matured in Sacramento over his next four seasons, Udrih's attempts dropped to an average of 2.4 per 36 minutes, but his shooting percentages bounced back to an average of 36.1 percent per year.
Udrih's three-point game fell off significantly in Milwaukee, while he was backing up Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. In 98 games for the Bucks, he shot 27.7 percent from behind that arc. The good news is that his shooting rebounded after he was traded to Orlando at last season's deadline -- in 27 games for the Magic, Udrih shot 39.6 percent.
Our new friend Beno certainly displayed some weird shot selection in his first preseason game with the Knicks. We can only hope he didn't pick up any point guard cooties from Ellis and Jennings. He has been a fairly consistent three-point shooter over his career, however, and at one decade younger than the man he's replacing (Jason Kidd), he's a safer bet to stay consistent with his shooting throughout the season.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
I can still admit it: I was against this pick. When it was announced, I texted Seth, who was at the draft, and asked him to tackle David Stern before the pick could become official. But Seth refused (some Knicks fan he is), and Hardaway became a Knick (Editor's note: Actual text: "BURN THAT FUCKING PLACE TO THE GROUND! AAAAA FUCKKKK").
It wasn't only Hardaway's father that scared me away from the pick -- though, like every Knicks fan who watched the '97 playoffs, I will hate that man until my dying day. Hardaway Jr. was billed as an elite shooter, but his numbers in college weren't particularly great: .343 3P% in three seasons with the shorter college three-point line.
Fortunately, THJ spent most of the first preseason game proving me wrong. The kid can certainly stroke it from downtown, and he looks mature enough to play within his limited role and stick to his strengths from the first game.
Young players like Hardaway and Shumpert represent my greatest hope for the Knicks coaching staff, particularly shooting coach Dave Hopla. For years, teams like the Spurs have been digging up raw prospects with good shooting strokes and turning them into quality NBA shooters. Last season, the first with Hopla on the staff, we saw remarkable strides from Shump. If Hopla can work similar magic with Hardaway, the Knicks might just have nine quality shooters on the roster. The three-point barrage of last season doesn't show any signs of slowing down anytime soon.