clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Minnesota Timberwolves v Detroit Pistons

Filed under:

Analyzing how Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks will help the Knicks

Short answer: in a lot of ways.

Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

With the post trade deadline dust settling, and all of us finally having some time to let the Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks trade sink in, we can start to take a deeper look at how they’ll fit and what exactly they’ll provide for the Knicks going forward.

We can’t start that conversation without mentioning shooting. This has to be, by far, the biggest and most talked-about skill that both Bogdanovic and Burks bring to the table. The former is a career 39.5% three-point shooter who is shooting 41% the last two seasons on 6.4 attempts per game while the latter is a career 38.6% three-point shooter who is shooting 40.7% on 5.2 attempts per game. Evidently, both are great shooters but it’s important to note that they aren’t the typical “stay in a corner and wait for a catch and shoot opportunity” type of player that fans tend to think of too often when they hear the word "shooter."

Both Bogdanovic and Burks profile as good catch-and-shoot players who shoot 43.1% and 40.3% from the corners respectively, but they are also very good shooters on above the break threes. Bogdanovic is shooting 41% from there, while Burks is shooting 40% from the same zone.

If you're asking yourself what does this mean, bear with me.

By having multiple players who are exceptional shooters, not just from the corners, but also from above the break, Tom Thibodeau and, by extension, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, have a lot more options when it comes to how the offense is set up. They are no longer forced to have their shooters camp out in the corners.

If they want to move Randle to the corner to take advantage of his 51.4% three-point percentage from there, they can do that. If they want to utilize Brunson’s footwork and post game, they can also do that from the corners, only now without worrying about spacing or sacrificing shooting. They could also run a two man game with Randle and Brunson on one side and the weakside defender would have to worry about not just the corner, but also the shooter at the elbow or at the top of the key.

Put either of the new additions one pass away from Brunson at the elbow and the defense has a tough decision of helping off of the dangerous threat that they are or help out on Brunson.

Before, with Quentin Grimes and RJ Barrett, opposing teams didn’t really have to worry about things like this nearly as much. But now with two deadly above-the-break three-point shooters, the offense should be able to take a big step when fully healthy.

But this doesn’t just end with where they are shooting from. The fact that both are significantly more accomplished and polished shooters off the dribble than Barrett and Grimes ever were helps diversify the offense and take some load off of Brunson and Randle as well. Take a look at the video below from a recent game against the Hornets and you can see just how good of a pull-up three-point shooter he is. Now equipped with Brunson, Bogdanovic, Burks, and Donte DiVicenzo (who has arguably been the best three-point shooter this season not named Steph Curry), the Knicks have four incredibly accurate shooters who are all good in both catch-and-shoot situations as well as off-the-dribble actions. And on top of everything, there’s also the presence of OG Anunoby and Deuce McBride, whose shooting profiles and versatility may be a bit more limited but also are legitimate shooting threats that teams must defend and respect.

Another thing that this trade does is reinsert some much needed playmaking and shot creation. With Randle out for the foreseeable future, Brunson has been asked to either create a shot for himself or his teammates on nearly every possession that he’s out there. By bringing in Bogdanovic and Burks, Brunson has to do less when he’s on the court, and can likely afford to sit a few more minutes in the hopes for saving him for later on in the season when the Knicks will need him the most.

In pick and rolls, as the ball handler, Bogdanovic boasts a 59% effective field goal percentage when shooting the ball, and a 54% effective field goal percentage combining his passes and shots, making him a very efficient playmaker when given the chance. As you can see in the aforementioned clip, he makes several nice passes to the rollers and having him get the chance to play next to Randle, or even Precious Achiuwa and Mitchell Robinson could lead to some really nice outcomes.

Bogdanovic, in the clip above, also shows that he’s a solid passer when looking to make the weakside skip pass, which should be nice in setting up Brunson, Randle, DiVicenzo, Anunoby, Burks, and McBride. Another thing that pops out is his patience and ability to read the defense. On a few screens, the defenses try to take away his outside shot so he uses crafty head fakes, subtle hesitation, and his large frame to jail defenders him to get the rim despite lacking any real quickness. And when the defense plays him in a drop coverage, he has no problem pulling up for a midrange shot.

Burks may be a bit more erratic at times as a ball handler and initiator but when Knicks fans complained about him being the point guard, it was mainly because Burks was asked to do so for a much larger portion of the game than he should have been. He’s far from the ideal starting point guard and lead initiator, but with Brunson in town, he should only be the default initiator for a few minutes a half. And in that role, he should be fine.

We saw during Burks' first stint in New York, like he does in the clip below, that he’s capable of being a nice offensive piece off the bench. Burks, as mentioned earlier, has a very good outside shot and when defenses try to take it away, he is capable of attacking closeouts, although finishing around the rim isn’t the strongest part of his game. He is, however, a very solid option as a secondary or tertiary ball handler, given his ability to be the ball handler in pick and rolls where he can make plays for others or use his sometimes unorthodox herky jerky movements to create a shot for himself.

In the minutes where Brunson is sitting, Bogdanovic and Burks are more than good enough to run offenses against second units and when they’re playing alongside Brunson, they, especially Bogdanovic, should help ease the load a bit and get Brunson a few more catch and shoot opportunities as well.

Yet, with all of this being said, the single thing that makes this trade as crucial as it is, may just be the fact that the Knicks now have more playable guys. With injuries to Robinson, Randle, Anunoby, and Brunson, Hart being overplayed and looking tired, and Hartenstein being hobbled, the Knicks are devoid of depth and hurting heading in to the All-Star break. Now, the situation is not as bad as it feels. Brunson’s injury doesn’t seem major, Hart should be fine going forward, Hartenstein’s injury seems manageable, Anunoby’s surgery wasn’t a major one, and the hope is that Robinson and Randle will be back in a few weeks.

But this trade, one that brought back two rotational players for the price of just one, gives the Knicks some much needed depth. These two players will be perfect fits for this team once everybody is healthy, but they can (and will) slot in and help keep the Knicks stay afloat while they try to manage these injuries.

New York did get a bit older, less athletic, and gave up some defense while sending out homegrown player Grimes, who just a year ago looked like the second most-valuable asset the team was willing to part ways with. Turns out the Knicks absolutely got better, deeper, and deeper, without maybe most importantly giving up any first-round picks in the process.

As is the case with any trade, we still have to see how the pieces fit on and off the court, but on paper, this trade should excite all Knicks fans.

Knicks Scores

Scenes from a wild Wildcat win over Detroit at MSG

Knicks Game Threads

Game Thread: New York Knicks vs Detroit Pistons, February 26, 2024

Knicks Analysis

Knicks face familiar foes in Pistons guards Quentin Grimes and Evan Fournier