5 reasons Knicks' offense has excelled recently

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Rafael Canton
·4 min read
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Knicks RJ Barrett and Julius Randle high five
Knicks RJ Barrett and Julius Randle high five

The New York Knicks have been arguably the hottest team in the NBA over the past few weeks. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 games and have risen up the Eastern Conference standings. Sitting at 35-28, New York has sole possession of the fourth seed in the East. With nine games left, New York has one of the toughest schedules for the remainder of the season.

Over this 10-1 run, the Knicks have the number one offense (118.7 points per 100 possessions) over the past 11 games per NBA Stats. Thanks to great play from Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and the rest of the squad, the Knicks have managed — for now — to turn a weakness from earlier this year into a strength. Here’s why their offense has managed to take the next step recently.


Julius Randle

A clear candidate for the All-NBA team and the Most Improved Player award, Randle has been on a tear, averaging 29.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists during this 11-game stretch. He’s actually shooting better from the three-point line (46.8 percent) than he is from two (45.4 percent).

Randle is also starting to see double-teams more often. As he’s improved at finding the open man, it’s opened up the Knicks offense in many ways. Though Randle isn’t being credited with assists every time he’s double-teamed, the extra pressure from the opposition is creating openings for the Knicks’ offense to attack and take advantage of the respect Randle is commanding on the floor.

Reggie Bullock and Three-Point Shooting

The Knicks have seen a major improvement in three-point shooting. The Knicks are currently sitting in fifth in three-point percentage this season (38.7 percent). Over the past 11 games, the Knicks lead the NBA in three-point percentage at 41.9 percent.

At the center of New York’s improved outside shooting is starter Reggie Bullock. Bullock is shooting 44.6 percent from the three-point line during this 11-game stretch. He’s also been automatic corners, shooting 53.2 percent on corner threes in that time. Even more important is the fact that Bullock lets it fly from the perimeter. The Knicks are 24-10 when the sharp shooter registers at least five three-point attempts in a game and 8-14 when he takes less than that number.

Bullock isn’t alone as other Knicks like Randle, Barrett and Immanuel Quickley have shot well from outside recently. Even starting point guard Elfrid Payton has quietly made 6-13 threes (46.2 percent) from three in the last 11 games. Though you can’t expect all of the shots to continue to fall, it’s encouraging to see the Knicks improve in a skill that is necessary to fielding a quality NBA offense.

RJ Barrett

As Barrett has settled into the role of second option, he’s seemed to get more comfortable. He has been able to work off of Randle in the starting lineup, but has done a good job of meshing with the bench units and taking a lead shot creating role. Barrett’s play has been a pleasant surprise this season. He’s averaging 18.0 points and shooting 41.8 percent. Barrett’s seen his role expanded even more with Alec Burks out. He’s averaging 37.8 minutes during this stretch of action.

Turnovers

All season, the Knicks have the sixth-lowest turnover rate in the NBA. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that the Knicks are last in assist rate during that span of games. Though they are not one of the elite passing teams in the league, keeping their turnover rate has been important in limiting transition opportunities for opponents and elevating their offense.

Bench Mob

New York’s depth has been a strength all season. Tom Thibodeau has relied heavily on his five-man unit of Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, Obi Toppin, and Quickley. Even with Burks out for the past seven games, the Knicks bench has still thrived thanks to strong play from the backcourt duo of Rose and Quickley.

When both players share the court, the Knicks have outscored opponents by 16.6 points per 100 possessions in 398 minutes together this season. Keeping Rose and Quickley together is a big reason for why Payton has stayed in a starting role.

Gibson has stepped up as backup center to provide pivotal minutes and solid defense behind Nerlens Noel. While Toppin hasn’t played particularly well, he’s shown flashes of what he can contribute as an open-floor finisher. Though Burks has been out due to the COVID-19 protocols, he’s also been a great bench option that fits many different roles.