Blog Entry

Knicks a playoff team? 3s seem to indicate

Posted on: December 17, 2008 1:32 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2008 1:35 pm

Had a chance to watch my first D'Antoni-edition Knicks game the other night and boy did one thing jump out: This team has a heckuva green light to shoot the three.

Mike D'Antoni(That's a D'Antoni trademark, moron)

Yes, it is. But this squad launched 37 3-point attempts, a Knicks franchise record. It connected on five of them. That's a 13.5 percent clip. When does that green light turn yellow?

So I asked myself, does it mean anything? Under D'Antoni the Suns led the league in 3-point attempts twice, finished second once and fifth in his last season. The Knicks currently lead the league by more than 100 attempts. They're connecting at a pace a wee little better than Monday night's game -- nearly 36 percent, or 16th in the league.

Again, what can we deduce from this? First question I asked: is there a correlation between attempting 3s and making the playoffs? It appears so. Since the '03-'04 season here's how it breaks down:

'07-'08: 10 of the 16 playoff teams were above the league average in 3-point attemps
'06-'07: 11 were above the league average
'05-'06: 12 were above the league average
'04-'05: 10 were above the league average
'03-'04: Eight were above the league average

Can we claim, "if you launch it, playoffs will come?" It appears so. But maybe there's more to the equation. What about defending the three? It seems playoff teams aren't great at stopping teams from launching them (about half of all teams were above the league average in terms of letting opponents attempt 3s) , but what playoff teams are good at is limiting the damage.

'07-'08: 12 teams were below the league average in percentage made
'06-'07: 13 were below
'05-'06: 12 were below
'04-'05: Nine were below
'03-'04: 10 were below

The Knicks are currently the second-best team at limiting opponents' 3-point percentage. While that could be more of a byproduct of teams focusing on taking the ball inside vs. the smaller Knicks and opting not to kick out when the opportunity for a good look presents it, the number is still impressive for a D'Antoni team. In '06-'07, when the Suns won 61 games, the team was ninth worst when it came to opponents' 3-point percentage.

There's more to basketball than 3-point shooting, so this is just one sliver of the pie, but when it comes to a D'Antoni team it's usually do or die by the three. So this is encouraging for Knicks fans, and there's a good chance the team could be back in the playoffs. 

One other thing I noticed was Al Harrington. He plays some tremendous 1-on-1 defense. You would think Steve Nash isoed on Harrington would be a huge edge to Nash. Not so, Harrington stayed with the quicker, shorter guard every time the two matched up, and even led the guard to commit two shot-clock violations.

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