In Tom Thibodeau’s three years coaching the Knicks, not turning it over is an area they’ve succeeded in:
- 2020-21: Sixth-fewest turnovers per game
- 2021-22: Tied for tenth in fewest turnovers per game
- 2022-23 (current): Fourth-fewest turnovers per game
Point guard Jalen Brunson has been a spotlight for the Knicks' consistency with the ball. He’s seen a major bump in usage rate this season but his turnover percentage is the lowest of his career. His assist rate is at a career-high and his assist/turnover ratio will likely be the best of his five-year career at the season's end.
Julius Randle is also in the middle of the lowest turnover percentage season of his career. Randle, like Brunson, is seeing a career-high in usage rate.
After highlighting the good, it’s time to point out the recent bad.
Turnover spike and double-digit deficits in last three games:
The Knicks have lost three in a row and there are a number of reasons that have led to that. Focusing on what I think is the most glaring right now are turnovers. As pointed out before, New York is in the top five for the least amount of turnovers per game. Holding onto the ball, rebounding, and paint defense has been the Knicks' formula for winning basketball this season. They also have shown great hustle and are a top-five second-chance points team in the NBA.
Here are some stats from the three-game losing streak:
Timberwolves- 140 — Knicks- 134
Turnovers: Knicks (16), Timberwolves (15)
Points off turnovers: Knicks (17), Timberwolves (21)
Largest lead: Knicks (5), Timberwolves (17)
Heat- 127 — Knicks- 120
Turnovers: Knicks (16), Heat (10)
Points off turnovers: Knicks (9), Heat (20)
Largest lead: Knicks (6), Heat (12)
Magic-111 — Knicks- 106
Turnovers: Knicks (13), Magic (14)
Points off turnovers: Knicks (28), Magic (13)
Largest lead: Knicks (4), Magic (19)
Over their three losses, they’ve averaged 15.7 turnovers. This is a team that has averaged around 13 turnovers per game. It may sound like a minimal difference but in this league, limiting mistakes goes a huge way when a lot of these games get close in the fourth quarter.
The loss to the Orlando Magic was a bit of a weird one but it still continued at least one theme. New York has been seeing itself fall behind by double digits. In the last five games, there has been a point that they’ve been down at least 12+ points in every game. Against the Portland Trail Blazers on the road, they were able to come back down 16. Playing the Denver Nuggets in MSG, they rallied down 13 midway through the third quarter to come back and win.
The comeback wins are great but it is not a sustainable strategy. Games against Denver are awesome moments but the reality is more like the three games we just saw.
It’s a bad stretch of basketball coming at the wrong time of the season. We should be thinking highly of these New York Knicks which is why it’s important to be critical when necessary.
Holding onto the basketball, rebounding, and limiting transition and fastbreak points. That’s the New York Knicks basketball we’ve come to love this season. Let’s get back to doing that and everything else will work itself out.
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