The Knicks suck, but no one sucks completely. Throughout a predominantly awful first five weeks of the season, we've noticed certain positive trends, however small. Occasionally, I will take the time to isolate and highlight these trends, because it's nice to look at nice basketball things sometimes. One such thing: Kenyon Martin has quietly been a useful passer for the Knicks this season. The stats show it:
- Among players who actually play (i.e. not you, Cole Aldrich, but good job), Martin is fourth on the Knicks in assist rate-- behind only the three regular point guards-- having assisted 13.8% of of his teammates' field goals while on the floor.
- Martin's assist ratio (assists per 100 possessions) is 31.0, behind only Pablo Prigioni.
- Martin leads the team in assist/turnover ratio with 3.75 dimes per whoopsie. This is all above the norm for Martin, too, as his 3.5 assists per 36 minutes would be a career high.
So what's happening? How has Martin put up career-best assist numbers ranking above everyone but the point guards? Those assists are almost always a product of creation from the perimeter, and they break into three basic variations. I made you some grainy videos with a few examples of each!
1. Hand-offs. Simple: Martin sets up-- either out of a Horns set or just as a roaming screener-- around either elbow just inside of the arc, and acts as a give-and-go-man/screener for the Knicks' shooters. Someone like Tim Hardaway Jr. or J.R. Smith can toss Martin the ball, then brush off a defender while using a Martin screen and hand-off simultaneously. Often, they are moving screens, but shhhhh:
2. Pin-downs. Even simpler. Martin holds the ball at the perimeter and the Knicks send someone popping up to an elbow with a pin-down screen. Often, it's Andrea Bargnani using a guard's screen, though I do like the final play where a bit more patience gets Prigioni an open three off some cross-screen action with J.R. Smith:
3. The Carmelo Anthony "Dwight Spin". That's what I've taken to calling the play wherein Martin holds the ball at the elbow, the Knicks clear out the strong-side post for Carmelo Anthony, Melo uses screens and savvy asswork to get his man sealed in a fronting position, then Melo cuts (often by spinning quickly as Dwight Howard used to in Orlando) toward the rim to get a quick and well-timed lob from Martin:
We've also seen Martin make nice extra passes while rolling to the rim, but his creation is primarily from the perimeter, not unlike the stuff we saw from Marcus Camby in the few minutes he played last season. It's a nice thing when it happens, and it's nice when nice things happen.