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Spread the love: Will the Knicks finally improve their assist numbers in 2023-24?

In the last five seasons, the best the Knicks have finished in assists per game is...27th.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v New York Knicks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The words ‘assist’ and ‘Knicks’ may almost rhyme, but the two have not meshed well in recent memory.

The Knicks opened their 2023-24 preseason with a 114-107 victory over the Boston Celtics. Boston rested all their starters, but nonetheless, it’s nice that we have some form of on-court Knicks basketball to talk about. You can read a full recap by Sam Stein—> here.

In the Knicks’ victory, the team had 24 assists and out-assisted the Cetlics 24-19. There were at least ten different Knicks to have an assist. Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride led the way with four apiece.

This 2023-24 season, I would like to see the Knicks move the ball better.

Here is where the Knicks have finished as a team in assists per game since the 2018-19 season:

2022-23: T-29th

2021-22: 30th

2020-21: 29th

2019-20: 27th

2018-19: 30th

In the 2023 playoffs, they came in dead last in assists per game. Averaging 18.7 in their 11 playoff games.

We can sit here and blame coach Tom Thibodeau’s system, but that wouldn't be fair criticism. Thibs was the head coach for the Chicago Bulls from 2010-2015. In those five years, Chicago finished ninth, fifth, eighth, tenth, and 14th in assists per game. Leaving Chicago, he would go on to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves for two and a half seasons. In his two full seasons in Minnesota, his team finished ninth and 18th in assists per game. He was fired halfway through the 2018-19 season where Minnesota would finish 15th in assists.

As we can see, it is not like Thibodeau’s teams have not been able to dish the ball.

2022-23 Play and shot charts (Stats via

Last season, the Knicks ran the third most isolation possessions per game in the regular season. Julius Randle took the sixth-most isolation possessions per game and shot under 50%. Randle is a hell of a player but there are too many times where he dribbled into nothing or forced shots that could have turned into opportunities for teammates. The Knicks power forward is a really solid passer but saw his assists dip from 5.1 in 2021-22 to 4.1 last season. Randle and the Knicks are at their best when he's sharing the rock. New York went 26-18 in regular season games where Julius Randle had at least four assists.

Jalen Brunson was also in the top 30 for isolations per game. Brunson faired a little better, ending the season with a 54.5 effective field goal percentage. Other key Knicks RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley both were under 50% for the season.

Trading up some isolations for possessions involving more teammates wouldn't be a terrible idea.

When it came to spot-up shots, the Knicks were third in possessions per game but had the 11th-worst shooting percentage. They had the right idea, just didn't shoot well.

An area I really hope to see improvement is on cuts. The Knicks had the eighth fewest cuts per game. Players such as RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes, and Josh Hart have been effective at cutting to the basket and in Barrett's case, he needs to spend more time inside than outside the arc. Teams like the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets are constantly cutting and it’s no surprise they finished first and second in assists per game. They were also effective in the times they did do it, tying in second for points per possession on cuts. Cutting to the basket is not always fun and can get tiring but the Knicks should consider it more. They finished 15th in points in the paint last season, they could turn that into a top-ten ranking this season.

Having more plays off-screens would allow for good looks and potential assists. Last season, the Knicks ran the third-fewest plays off-screens. Trading some of those dribble-dribble isolation possessions for off-screen shots can create better looks all over the court.

Shooting percentages:

More assists can be generated the better a team shoots. The Knicks attempted the eighth most three-pointers per game last season and shot the 12th-worst percentage. When it came to field goal percentage, New York was tied for the eighth worst.

There is a lot of room for improvement this upcoming season to see better assist and shooting numbers.

{*All stats can be found on}

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