One of the most critical factors for a successful NBA team is high percentage three-point shooting. Last season, the New York Knicks were highly efficient from beyond the arc, shooting 38.8%, which ranked fourth-best in the NBA. However, they ranked 24th in three-point attempts, a statistic that head coach Tom Thibodeau wants to expand upon this upcoming season.
The Knicks have used this preseason to increase their three-point shooting to get a better feel of what is expected during regular season play. Without All-Star power forward Julius Randle, the Knicks connected on 24-of-54 three-point shots against the Washington Wizards on Saturday evening. The team’s record is only 20 three-point shots during a game, so they will be looking to smash that mark when the season begins on October 20 against the Boston Celtics.
Thibodeau is instructing his team to take more shots, but he wants them to curate high percentage locks and not just heat up three-pointers to increase the volume.
“I’m not going to give you the set number Thibs told us to get but that’s pretty good,” Derrick Rose said, per the NY Post. “It’s above the set number he told us. They’re all good looks. Where Kemba [Walker] is walking into 3s. He’s great off the dribble. RJ [Barrett] is the same. I’m more of a catch-and-shoot. But everyone’s making the game easier for the next person. When you have an offensive team like we have, it should make the game easier.’’
The addition of Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker should contribute instantly in the category, replacing Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock. The switch at point guard alone represents a massive upgrade, as Payton shot a measly 28.6% from three-point range last year, attempting 1.6 per game. Kemba, on the other hand, contributed 8.2 attempts with Boston last season.
Thibodeau knows his team is a high percentage three-point squad, but if they can maintain that number while increasing their volume, that is where they will find themselves in more advantageous positions, especially during the postseason.
“We’re very efficient at shooting them,” Thibodeau said. “So our shot profile is right. Making the right reads is the most important thing off the dribble. Attack the rim, and make the proper rim read by hitting the open man. If guys make the extra pass, we’ll have good rhythm 3s. We also want to push the ball more and we’ll continue to work on [that].’’
While long-range shooting is a necessity in today’s league, the team has plenty of talent to dominate in the paint as well. The return of center Mitchell Robinson should aid in that department significantly, and the presence of Randle will also play a big part in the efficiency of the offense.
Luckily, with more playmakers, the Knicks won’t have to rely on Julius to carry the load, so don’t be surprised to see his field goal attempt decrease but his efficiency increase due to more space on the floor and cleaner looks.