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Layups: Knicks Do Everything But Win vs. Denver

Posted by Neil Paine on November 17, 2010

From ESPN.com's Stats and Information crew, an interesting note about last night's Knicks-Nuggets game:

"The New York Knicks did everything in their statistical power to beat the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.

They made more field goals. They made more 3-pointers. They had more rebounds. They had more assists. They had fewer turnovers. And they had more blocked shots.

The Elias Sports Bureau told us that the last 266 times a team outperformed its opponent in all of those statistical categories, that team won the game.

Except the Knicks didn't win. They lost again, 120-118, their sixth straight defeat, this one starting a tough West Coast road trip. "

Of course, raw stats can deceive. Looking at our boxscore, we see that while New York did control the turnover battle and the boards, they were also beaten somewhat handily in eFG% and FT/FGA. That's bad, because eFG% in particular is far and away the most important of the Four Factors, the key statistical indicators of team success.

Four Factors
Pace eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA ORtg
NYK 105.9 .485 8.9 30.6 .235 111.5
DEN 105.9 .517 10.9 21.7 .360 113.3

It's interesting that the Knickerbockers' latest loss (their 6th straight) came against Denver, a team whose star player (Carmelo Anthony) is constantly being linked to New York in trade rumors. With that in mind, you should read Will Leitch's take on a potential Anthony-to-NY trade in this New York Magazine piece from last week.

Because D'Antoni is at the helm, one would think the Knicks' slide has been the defense's fault, but they're actually a respectable 13th in Defensive Efficiency even after last night's game. The problem has been the 24th-ranked offense, in no small measure because Amare Stoudemire currently has a 98.4 offensive rating and a -1.35 offensive SPM.

Would adding Carmelo (+3.40 OSPM) as soon as possible help with the Knicks' offensive struggles? Probably. But as Leitch points out, it would also wreck New York's rebuilding plan by forcing them to give up assets to Denver. If they wait until after the season (if and when a new CBA is in place), they could sign him for less than a max deal would cost today, and without losing a Gallinari, Douglas, Chandler, Randolph, Mozgov, or Fields in the process.

The only question is, how much patience can the Knicks muster after losing the LeBron derby? With the team struggling, the urge to panic may be enough to overwhelm any long-term plan.

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4 Responses to “Layups: Knicks Do Everything But Win vs. Denver”

  1. Mike R. Says:

    "Of course, raw stats can deceive." Then again, sometimes the answer is right there under your nose.

    The Knicks outscored the Nuggets by 6 from the field (95-89). But the Nuggets outscoced the Knicks by 8 from the line (31-23). Hence, Nuggets win by 2. Do we really need to analyze it beyond that?

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Yes, we do. When you say the Knicks outscored the Nuggets by 6 from the field, it makes it seem like they were more efficient on their FG attempts... But they weren't. Using eFG%, we get a more accurate story.

  3. P Middy Says:

    All the stats in the world don't make up for stank. And the Knicks still have a lot of it on them. But they'll clear the fog as the season rolls along. I think they can grab the 7 or 8 spot by years end. They've got as talented a corp of young prospects as I've seen.

  4. Dan Says:

    I disagree. FIelds has impressed, but what I don't think Gallo, Douglas, or Chandler have shown themselves to be anything but role-players in the future. I don't watch the Knicks very often and maybe Douglas impressed in his rookie year, but it seems to me like they're in a weird place akin to the Rockets where they don't have any major prospects and aren't going to challenge for the title any time soon. Fortunately for the Rockets, they have better minor prospects than the Knicks, will remain more competitive than the Knicks, and have the Knicks picks for the next 2 years.