10 Game Statistical Check-In
The Knicks have played 12.2 percent of their season. Let's check in on five numbers worth watching.
Good morning! Are you ready for the first inter-borough matchup of the season? I so badly want to get over .500 against this team. Let’s see if they can make it happen.
🏙 Game Night 🏙
Who: The Nets
When: 7:30 pm
Injury Report: Shocker: Quentin Grimes is questionable. Mitch is also out. For Brooklyn, Yuta Watanabe (ankle) will miss the game, as will TJ Warren (foot) and Kyrie Irving (crackpot).
Halftime Zoom: Click here to enter.
What to Watch For: It’s Brooklyn. Need I say more?
(OK, one thing: Ben Simmons has looked pretty rough this season. The Nets now have him running bench units with four shooters. It didn’t work well in their last game vs Dallas, but it should be interesting whether New York’s bench can take advantage of these minutes tonight.)
10 Game Statistical Check-In
Some teams in the NBA might scoff at being called average, but for a franchise that has only been at or above .500 four times in the last 21 seasons, mediocre is something to shoot for.
Unless, of course, you ever want to have a chance of not being mediocre, or at least that’s what we’ve been told in the tanking era. This line of thinking hasn’t subsided even with the flattened lottery odds, although early season winning by several perceived bottom-dwellers has now called that premise into question.
Wherever your feelings on mediocrity stand, there’s no doubt that’s what the Knicks are, with exactly the same number of points scored as given up through 10 games. They’ve won the games they’re supposed to win and lost the games they’re supposed to lose. Both their defense and offense are almost exactly league average.
None of this should be much of a surprise, although many of the ways they’re doing it might feel unexpected. The Knicks remain one of the elite teams on the offensive glass, ranking 6th in percentage of their own misses retained, and for the third year in a row, opponents are hitting shots with bottom-six efficiency against them. But that’s about where the perceived expectations end. Some of the major shifts, all courtesy of Cleaning the Glass unless otherwise noted:
After finishing as the 4th best team at keeping opponents off the offensive glass last season and a respectable 12th in ‘20-21, they’re 28th this season. It’s worth noting here that they’ve cleaned this area up immensely over the last two games, and their most egregious showings came against some beastly matchups with Memphis and Milwaukee.
Another negative: after finishing second in the league in free throw rate last season, they’re 22nd this season, although a big part of that is probably because…
After finishing 24th in percentage of shots taken from the short midrange a season ago, they’re now fourth in frequency of shots taken from between 4 and 14 feet. This is not only Brunson’s happy place, but Isaiah Hartenstein’s as well. We’ve seen Julius Randle increase his shot diet from this area too. Considering they’re converting looks from the short midrange at the 12th best rate in the league, this goes down as a solid positive, although you’d like the free throw rate to rebound a little regardless.
The Knicks are taking far fewer above the break threes - no surprise with no Kemba Walker, no Alec Burks and Evan Fournier’s role slowly diminishing. They’ve balanced this with more corner threes though, as well as more shots in general thanks to…
The 13th fastest pace in the NBA! You read that right. According to NBA.com/stats, last season’s slow pokes of the NBA who trailed only Dallas in pace of play are now solidly in the top half of the league. Even more impressive, they’re running off of live rebounds with the second highest frequency in the NBA. They were 23rd in this stat a year ago and dead last the season before that.
Last and certainly not least, the team that finished top-six in frequency of long twos for an astounding eight straight years from 2013 to 2020 now ranks 4th from the bottom in that category. They have all but eliminated the least efficient shots in the game from their regular diet.
With those out of the way, here are five player or position-specific statistical trends I find particularly interesting after 10 games, and that warrant watching in the coming weeks and months:
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