Arron Afflalo seems to have picked up for the Knicks exactly where he left off: shooting midrange jump shots. In his three games back since hamstring issues, Afflalo has already shown his penchant to get himself open looks from 10-19 feet by using different methods. In the video compilation below, you will see him score on an excellent wing defender off a basic on-ball screen from Robin Lopez. Next, you'll see him utilize an effective pump fake to draw a Charlotte defender off balance before setting up and knocking down a free throw line jumper. Clips #3 and #4 focus on similar designed plays from out of bounds that utilize Afflalo's pet shot to compile some easy points.
Let's take a look specifically at those last two, each of which came out of a timeout, with the latter resulting in a Porzingis bucket.
The first timeout play was drawn up by Derek Fisher to spring Arron Afflalo free for an open midrange jumper by utilizing Derrick Williams to set a screen on the smaller JR Smith. You can see in the below screenshot that Smith opens the possession with both feet firmly planted into the paint while Afflalo sprints around the free throw line. Carmelo Anthony waits to throw the ball in on the baseline. Smith knows he can't tail Afflalo so far out, and that he'll have to eventually cut through the glut of players in the paint to gain an angle on Afflalo.
Next, you'll see Williams set a wide-base screen to force JR Smith right as Afflalo receives the ball from Anthony.
This forces Smith to take a bad angle on the shot contest, which means he takes off too far right to meaningfully contest Afflalo's shot. Afflalo nails the jumper from his favorite area along the baseline.
Such simple action, which is based mostly on proper screen timing, angle, and effort, is exactly the type of play you want to draw out of a time out with such personnel on the floor. Carmelo Anthony's height and passing ability combine to make him a natural fit to inbound the ball, and Arron Afflalo is a historically great midrange shooter along the baseline. The following chart was crafted by the one and only Kirk Goldsberry in January 2014:
And here is a chart via stats.nba.com that shows Afflalo's shot ranges and percentages from the 2014-15 NBA season:
It is safe to say Afflalo's forte is finding and nailing midrange jump shots. The Knicks offered him a lucrative contract because of his reliable shooting, so it makes sense for them to design plays for him to showcase that skill. Fisher also deserves credit, though, for utilizing Afflalo's shooting talent as a diversionary tactic, which manifested about two minutes following the success of the above out-of-bounds play.
Carmelo Anthony has once again been tasked with inbounding the ball at nearly the exact same position on the floor. With the success of the recent play in mind, Fisher designs another play to spring Afflalo in the same spot. Anticipating a heightened response from the Cavaliers, Fisher also designed secondary action on the play to open up Kristaps Porzingis on the perimeter via a screen from Robin Lopez. Afflalo zooms around the perimeter (again) and receives the ball along the midrange baseline (again). This time, JR Smith is able to navigate screens from Langston Galloway and Robin Lopez to stick close with Afflalo as he receives the pass from Carmelo Anthony. At this point, Lopez sets a second screen in the paint on Kevin Love, which frees his man, Porzingis, for an open shot near the three point line.
Eventually you'd like to see Porzingis turn this play into a shot that counts for three points instead of just two. He seems to possess the type of stroke and frame that will translate to solid three point numbers, but he just is not there yet. Porzingis's stats so far this season indicate that he is much more likely to nail a shot from 15-19 than from three, which the Knicks utilized for two easy points from an out-of-bounds situation:
With such a new roster early in the season, Fisher is still looking to find many of his players' greatest strengths. In the meantime he has leaned on the established strengths of his veterans, including the excellent midrange floor game of Arron Afflalo. As the season continues, Fisher should continue to utilize the reliability of Afflalo's jumper while exploring the strengths of his fresh faces. We've seen a little of both.