How do y'all like the Triangle now?
While there's no reason to lose faith in Tex Winter's triple-post offense after a mere five games -- without the starting point guard, to boot -- there have been some disturbing trends.
It seems as if the Knicks are engaging in some kind of 1970s NBA live action role-play on offense, relying on volumes of mid-range jumpers that haven't been en vogue since the days of Dollar Bill Bradley. This team might as well start rocking the short shorts, with Amar'e ditching his trendy specs in favor of some groovy Kareem goggles. Hell, we can even invite Marv Albert back to call the games! (He won't come.)
This antiquated shot selection has really been cramping New York's style. The Knicks rank 25th in the league in three-point attempts, which is positively absurd given their stable of shooters (collectively ranked second in the NBA in three-point percentage). Not only is this club bringing a knife to a gun fight, they're ignoring the Uzi strapped to their shoulders.
All except one; all except Iman Shumpert.
How bat-shit crazy has this offense become? The same Shump who looked ready to wet himself every time the ball found him last season is now the only shooter in the regular rotation who isn't hesitating to shoot from downtown (Tim Hardaway Jr.'s been gunning, but in spotty minutes, and not nearly as accurately.)
The small sample of results so far has been spectacular, as Shumpert ranks in the top 10 in the league in made three-pointers and fourth in three-point shooting percentage (an absurd 68.8 percent.)
And it's not as if Shump has been draining a high percentage of his shots overall -- in fact, he's been pretty dreadful from inside the arc:
Yet the Knicks are scoring 106.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor (highest among regulars) and 89.1 points per 100 possessions with him off the floor (lowest among regulars). That is a testament to Shumpert's suddenly very modern game.
Not only is the flat-topped one hitting his threes, he's getting to the free-throw line (3.0 free-throw attempts per game...not exactly James Harden, but good enough for second on the team, and much better than his 1.0 FTA average in 2013-14). And his 2.40 assist-to-turnover ratio is second on the team, behind only Pablo Prigioni.
Does this make Shumpert some kind of Triangle-hating monster -- an apostate to the Church of Passing and Mid-Range Jumpers? Not likely. I have yet to see a Triangle Law which states that players can't take three-pointers. Shump is not working against the Triangle; the Triangle is working for Shump:
@ChinaJoeFlynn He generally said that he's comfortable in this offense bc of the diff looks it gives him and others coming off quick screens— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 5, 2014
All this screening and passing, when done correctly, should allow for open threes. Of Shumpert's four made threes in Detroit, three came on Triangle sets, such as this beauty from the first quarter:
As you can see, Shump is chillin' on the weak side, as Jason Smith prepares to dump the ball in to Samuel Dalembert on the strong-side post.
Once Dalembert has the ball, Larkin and Smith cut across the floor, with Smith setting a screen on Shumpert's man:
From there, Shumpert finds a cozy spot behind the arc, and all Dalembert has to do is kick the ball out for the open three:
In the second half, the Knicks use some weak-side drive-and-kick action and a flurry of perimeter passes to find an open Shump. First Tim Hardaway Jr. sucks in the defense, then kicks the ball out to Quincy Acy.
Acy is no shooter, so he wisely passes to Melo, who quickly finds Shumpert wide open in the strong-side corner:
You see, my friends, it is indeed possible to get open three-point looks in the Triangle. Iman Shumpert is living proof of that fact. The Knicks simply haven't unlocked its potential. Hopefully the return of Jose Calderon, along with a heaping helping of practice and game experience, will help New York's shooters harness the three-ball once again.