Skip to content

The Knicks are legit. If they can keep this up is another question.

Nov 16, 2012, 1:25 PM EDT

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith celebrates as he faces the crowd after making a shot against the Dallas Mavericks in the third quarter of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York Reuters

The Knicks are 6-0, the last undefeated team in the NBA — and it’s not a fluke.

They are defending better than anyone in the league, giving up just 93.6 points per 100 possessions, via Hoopdata. (Anyone who says they just started defending this year wasn’t watching last year.) Their offense with Carmelo Anthony at the four is clicking, they are averaging 111.3 points per 100 possessions, again best in the NBA. Raymond Felton back at the point has steadied the decision making and added points.

If you questioned their competition, they just knocked off the Spurs in San Antonio. They are moving the ball on offense; their defensive rotations and hustle are sharp for this time of the season.

They are legitimate…

Well, let’s define legitimate. We are 7.3 percent of the way into their regular season. When we look at an East where the 76ers are without Andrew Bynum and the Celtics are struggling to find their groove, suddenly the idea of a top 3 or 4 seed and advancing out of the first round of the playoffs seem very legitimate.

But that’s not what Knicks fans are thinking… or at least starting to let themselves dream about.

And I’m far from sold on those big dreams. Because it’s a long season. Because of regression to the mean. And because there are some big hurdles ahead. (Oh, and because of the Miami Heat.)

First, the long season. Showing you can string together six good games — the first six, or six in January — only shows potential, not the ability to sustain a level of play. The Knicks will continue to be legit because they are defending, they are not going to fall off the map (baring major injury). But looking like a contender in November and in May are two very different things.

Second, regression to the mean — the Knicks are playing over their heads right now.

This season they are shooting 42.8 percent from three, a huge jump from the 33.6 percent of last season. J.R. Smith is shooting 73.7 percent from three through six games. That is not going to last. New York will be better from three than last year, but they are not going to keep hitting threes at this rate, and that is going to impact the rest of their offense when Jason Kidd is missing those threes in the fourth quarter, not burying them.

Generally, shots are just falling for the Knicks — they are hitting the highest percentage of spot-up jumpers in the league. They are getting 23.4 percent of their offense from spot-up shoots and they are hitting 45.1 percent of those shots (stats via Synergy Sports). That will slip.

Or, there is this note on twitter from Zach Lowe of Grantland: “Knicks have turned the ball over 9.9% of their possessions. Would be easily the lowest TO rate in league history. Uptick coming.”

Things are going to normalize for the Knicks.

And then they are going to have to integrate Amare Stoudemire back into the offense.

This really remains the question out there — the offense is clicking with Carmelo Anthony at the four, can you really start Stoudemire at the four and move Anthony back to the three again? Not and succeed at this pace. Right now the Knicks are getting 15.5 percent of their offense from isolation and they are shooting just 36.7 percent in isolation (13th in the NBA).

The Knicks are sharing the ball right now, they can’t go back to ‘Melo isolating on the wing 23 feet from the hoop. Not and win.

There’s a lot of potential with this Knicks team — Tyson Chandler has compared the makeup of this squad to the 2011 Dallas Mavericks title team. That’s lofty, and that team needed a Texas-sized load of things to go right for them to get the ring.

Things are not going to keep going this right for the Knicks, and when they don’t we’ll see what kind of team this really is.

Latest Posts
  1. Morris twins lawyers seek to send case back to grand jury

    Aug 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Phoenix Suns Media Day Getty Images

    The Morris twins have denied any involvement, or even knowing the victim.

  2. Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle says team will error on side of caution with Wesley Matthews return

    Aug 4, 2015, 1:05 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    Thinking long-term is the smart approach, the only one the Mavericks should consider

  3. Kobe Bryant’s popularity in China knows no bounds

    Aug 3, 2015, 11:17 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwzjzdnimmu0mmfiyjq3nwrlytblymy1zja0mgnhnmiw AP

    Kobe Bryant is Beatles during the British Invasion level popular in China.

  4. Report: Nets doing Earl Clark a favor and waiving him

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks- Game One Getty Images

    Brooklyn could have easily kept Clark through training camp

  5. Jerry Colangelo: Paul George will attend USA Basketball minicamp meeting, won’t play

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    Pacers star maintains status as lock for 2016 Olympic roster – if he wants to play

  6. Klay Thompson’s brother called up to the White Sox

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:16 PM EDT

    Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Getty Images

    Trayce Thompson gives Thompson family yet another professional athlete

  7. LeBron James to attend Team USA minicamp, leave early

    Aug 3, 2015, 7:25 PM EDT

    US forward LeBron James celebrates after Getty Images

    That’ll keep him a viable candidate for 2016 Olympic roster

  8. Report: Mavericks give Salah Mejri fully guaranteed salary

    Aug 3, 2015, 5:36 PM EDT

    BASKET-EURL-ANADOLU EFES-REAL MADRID Getty Images

    Dallas loading up on players. What will roster look like in November?

  9. Nancy Lieberman says DeMarcus Cousins happy Kings hired her

    Aug 3, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    Nancy Lieberman Nancy Lieberman

    Will new Sacramento assistant coach improve Cousins’ relationship with George Karl?

  10. Ray Allen: “I won’t officially retire”

    Aug 3, 2015, 12:50 PM EDT

    Ray Allen AP

    “I didn’t miss it. I realized how much time I missed not being home with my kids.” —Ray Allen on last season

  11. Report: Kings have no interest in Hedo Turkoglu

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    The Kings were never a likely landing spot.

  12. Report: 76ers to sign Jordan McRae a year after stashing him

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v Utah Jazz Getty Images

    What will J.P. Tokoto, future Philadelphia second-rounders think of McRae’s contract?

  13. Timberwolves coach Flip Sauders returns to Twitter to say he loves three pointers

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Flip Saunders AP

    The Timberwolves roster doesn’t have a lot of quality three point shooters on it.

  14. Magic guarantee Dewayne Dedmon’s contract

    Aug 3, 2015, 12:01 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    Orlando keeps backup center on minimum contract

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (1861)
  2. L. James (1554)
  3. J. Thompson (1520)
  4. T. Thompson (1363)
  5. J. Smith (1355)
  1. S. Vujacic (1352)
  2. M. Scott (1331)
  3. P. George (1291)
  4. S. Curry (1191)
  5. J. Noah (1153)