Evan Fournier breaks John Starks’ 3-pt record: Will it be enough for Knicks to keep him?

It was pretty clear for Evan Fournier during the free agency that the New York Knicks would be his next team. But little did he know that he would make his mark on his new team right in his first season.

On Wednesday, Fournier shattered a 27-year old franchise record when he hit his 218th three-pointer of the season. He surpassed John Starks, a Knicks legend he hasn’t met personally.

To his surprise, it was Starks on the screen, congratulating him for breaking his record.

“Hey Evan, this is John Starks. I just want to say congratulations on breaking my record, holding down the Knicks’ most three-pointers in a season. Congratulations, my man! Keep shooting, alright?” Starks said in the video message.

Fournier’s record-breaking three-pointer came at a perfect time when the Charlotte Hornets rallied and cut the Knicks’ lead to six.

Fournier sized up Hornets Miles Plumlee and shook him off the dribble for a step-back jumper from beyond the arc with 1:38 left in the third quarter.

Achievement unlocked.

But more importantly, the shot doused cold water on the Hornets’ fiery rally from a 20-point deficit.

“I have a lot of emotions. I’m proud. I’m happy. I’m thankful for all the assists that I got from my teammates — those guys put me in a situation to break that kind of a record. The fact that it’s in such a big, historical franchise and takes the record from John Starks, a famous guy, famous player,” Fournier said. “I don’t know, man. It’s hard to put into words exactly how I feel, but I’m going to call my friends, parents, and family. It’s going to be a great night.”

Fournier was only three years old when Starks hit the record in 1995, making him the first NBA player to his 200 three-pointers in a single season. Today that has been the norm rather than the exception. A dozen players have already accomplished that feat with a few games left. That list will only grow in the next couple of weeks.

Fournier is currently fifth in that list behind Stephen Curry (285), Buddy Hield (232), Malik Beasly (224), and Fred Van Vleet (223). It took him 549 three-point attempts, the most he’s ever taken in a single season throughout a 10-year NBA career. Before this, the most three-point attempts he’s taken were 450 during the 2018-19 season.

It wasn’t on his mind when he agreed to sign with the Knicks this offseason. At the time of his signing, along with Kemba Walker, they were viewed as shotmakers who can score off the dribble to ease the load of last season’s All-Star forward Julius Randle.

Fournier had an up-and-down season that contributed to the Knicks’ removal from the playoff picture after breaking an eight-year drought last season. So, the accomplishment came as a bittersweet moment for Fournier.

“It really took me a couple of months to figure out how I was going to be able to help this team,” Fournier said. “I want to thank Thibs (Thibodeau) for putting me in that position because I think that’s what he really expected from me.”

“It took me a couple of months to understand that because I’ve always been an aggressive player just going to the rim and playing off curls and stuff. [But] we have guys that do that already.”

Fournier has settled in his new role. He is on pace to doubling Reggie Bullocks’ 117 three-pointers made last season. Despite his defensive flaws, Fournier has become a reliable shooter and scorer as the season went. He’s become a complementary piece next to Randle and RJ Barrett, carving out space for them to attack the rim.

“Since January, I think I’ve played a lot better, and I really understand my role and how I’m going to be able to impact winning.”

Fournier was right.

Before January, Fournier was only shooting 36.6 percent from deep on 6.8 attempts. He averaged 12.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. The Knicks have been outscored by 2.6 points when he was on the floor.

But since January, the Knicks’ starting shooting guard had been shooting 42.1 percent (7th-best in the league over that stretch) from the three-point territory on 8.6 attempts. His numbers except for rebounds — 15.8 points in 36 games while adding 2.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists and had 0.0 net rating — dramatically increased.

Will this be enough to convince the Knicks front office to keep Fournier beyond this season?

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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