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New high-tech data shows challenges Knicks, Carmelo face

Aug 31, 2012, 8:30 AM EDT

Carmelo Anthony

I’m a big proponent of teams getting information — use traditional scouts, use advanced stats, both coaches and general managers should be getting as much data as they can to help inform their choices.

But that information doesn’t always provide easy answers. Just ask the New York Knicks.

One wealth of new information some teams have tapped into is from STATS LLC, the company that puts 10 cameras in an NBA arena and can track and record every move a player makes. Want to know how well a player shoots after two dribbles vs. a catch-and-shoot, they can give you accurate data and overlay it with spots on the floor. It can measure a player’s speed, leaping ability, everything and give a team good scouting information on an opponent.

And good scouting on a team itself. Which brings us back to the Knicks — STATS has cameras in Madison Square Garden and shared a slice of the information with Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated. Information that raises questions for how the Knicks run their offense with Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire all on the floor.

Of all players who drove the ball at least 40 times in camera-recorded games last season, Anthony proved to be the most efficient of anyone in the league. The Knicks scored 1.66 points per possession on trips that included an Anthony drive (from 20 feet out to 10 feet in) at any point in the possession….

But here’s the thing: Despite all those touches and more isolation plays than any player in the entire league (as a share of his total possessions, per Synergy Sports), Anthony only pulled off only 3.1 drives per game in the sample size. That mark was equivalent to the numbers for Chandler Parsons and Luol Deng, a bit below those for Kevin Durant (3.6) and Paul Pierce (3.7) and about half to one-third of the number that most point guards recorded.

Read Lowe’s entire piece but the numbers crystalize the problem — Anthony is better when he gets the ball farther away from the basket and drives than when he shoots a contested 20-foot jumper. Which is obvious, but Anthony takes a lot of contested jumpers.

As he did in the Olympics, Anthony was more effective as a power forward who could stretch the floor and drive the lane with the Knicks.

But there is not a lot of room for Anthony to drive into the lane when you have Tyson Chandler hanging out near the basket and now Stoudemire in that area after having worked on his post game all summer with Hakeem Olajuwon. Stoudemire struggled from the elbow last season so him going to post more makes sense for him.

It’s a question of spacing and getting guys the ball where they can succeed. Last season the Knicks scored just 95 points per 100 possessions when ‘Melo, Stoudemire and Chandler were all on the floor, and that was near the bottom of the league. That has to change for the Knicks to succeed. Change like more Carmelo at the four, except that is Stoudemire’s position and if you move him to the five what about Chandler?

Philadelphia coach Doug Collins loves puzzles (crosswords in particular) and loves to say that fitting NBA talent together is a fun and challenging puzzle on any team.

But Mike Woodson and the Knicks have a more challenging puzzle than most.

  1. money2long - Aug 31, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Carmelo has a lot to show us this season. He already came out saying his time is now, to win. I’m a fan of his as well as the Knicks. Really, though, the only concern I have with the Knicks is the rejuvenation of Amare Stoudimire. I feel he and Melo need a summer where they just play ball together whenever they can. I’ve built chemistry with guys just by playing with them over and over again.

    Let me see. The Knicks’ two best players have had a rocky road in trying to build chemistry due to

    1st season: mid season trades (Melo’s arrival) makes it difficult to adjust
    The next season….
    lockout/no training camp/no practices
    This summer, Melo and Amare were separated due to the Olympics.

    Well, it’s a good that Amare was training/upgrading his post game this summer. I just wish Melo and Amare could just lock themselves in a gym together and play ball.

    • knightrider1755 - Aug 31, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      Most players in the NBA don’t have the luxury of building chemistry with the players that they join on a new team. They do their best and some how they get it done. Melo and Amare have played in 71 games together on the floor as Knicks. In those games the Knicks were 31-40. It is not a matter of chemistry as much as it is about the style of play that these two players prefer. Melo is an isolationist and Amare is a good pick and roll style player who can be deadly when going to the basket. Amare is most effective when he is around the basket which causes a problem for Chandler because they both are in each other’s space. Yes, in a perfect NBA world, the players would get to build chemistry on a gradual and steady pace. But that’s not the NBA. In essence, you go with what you know and make the best of it.

      • money2long - Aug 31, 2012 at 11:07 AM

        look man, basketball is basketball. stop with all this roles and styles and stuff. sometimes it just comes down with tenure. play with someone long enough, and consistently enough, and you will develop a cohesion. amare and melo have had one of the most rockiest roads ever of a tandem to form any sort of chemistry.

      • money2long - Aug 31, 2012 at 11:10 AM

        remember, people were saying the wade and lebron tandem was a failed product, their styles clashed, it’ll be cleveland all over again, etc etc….yea…until they won.

      • money2long - Aug 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        let me be clear however. i am NOT saying styles do not matter. that has to be taken into consideration. i am with you on that. however, i am simply expressing to you guys not to overlook the obstacles the two of them have to fight through. take into account the points i made in my initial point, and the couple injuries amare has suffered, coach changes, the revolving door at point guard and the overall pressure of playing in ny (which i feel is a cop out but it exists).

  2. deeballer - Aug 31, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Looks like too many cooks in the kitchen.

  3. Mr. Wright 212 - Aug 31, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Should have traded Stoudemire this summer. The only way it is going to work is if they simply ride the hot hand and recognize matchups early and exploit them often.Going into games trying to get player A going in his “spots” and player B the same is why we won’t ever get over the hump.

    • money2long - Aug 31, 2012 at 11:34 PM

      what player can you reasonably get back for amare in a trade that would benefit the knicks and the team getting STAT ? im genuinely curious.

  4. dysraw1 - Aug 31, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    these guys have the every thing in place for once STAT & Melo will play better together because Ray & J Kidd there will be cultural change just based on that not to mention they want to change the idea that they don’t mesh

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