The New York Knicks have won four of their last five games, primarily thanks to RJ Barrett and three 30+ point performances during that time span.
Since the start of the new year, Barrett has been the team’s primary scorer and leader, but free-agent acquisition Evan Fournier has gone under the radar as a productive member the past two weeks. Fournier started the season struggling in October, but November and December showcased a shell of a player compared to his productive seasons in Boston and Orlando.
Fournier averaged 11.3 points during November and shot 36% from deep and 40.5% from the field. He cracked 20 points just twice in 15 games, and his December wasn’t much better. While he did enjoy a streak of three games where he posted 23, 32, and 22 points apiece, he was largely ineffective averaging 12.7 points.
However, several members of the Knicks have taken a significant step forward in January, including Fournier. The French native is averaging 18.4 points, including a 41 point outing against Boston on January 6 and shooting 52.6% from range. While he had one anomaly against Indiana where he scored zero points over 22 minutes, he bounced back with a lucrative performance against his former team.
With Fournier playing at a high level offensively, it takes a ton of pressure off players like Julius Randle. It has also opened up opportunities for Barrett, as opposing teams are forced to spread their defense out to tame multiple playmakers.
When looking at Fournier‘s advanced statistics, he’s experiencing a few interesting numbers. The majority of his three-point attempts are coming assisted this year, witnessing a drop off of 10% in unassisted three-point field goals made. He hovers at 11.2%. His three-point field goals made assisted is at 88.8%, the highest it’s been since 2013 with Denver.
Another interesting statistic is his free-throw points scored. Only 8.1% of his total points have been via free throws. That is the lowest in his entire career by a significant margin, logging 15% last year with Boston and Orlando. Clearly, the Knicks are asking him to be more of a three-point shooter than driving to the basket picking up fouls along the way. 58.9% of his points are coming from the three-point line, the highest of his career by a massive margin.
Clearly, the analytics department saw him as a shooting threat, and they have finally found a sufficient role for him to start the new year, recording nearly 20 points per game. They desperately needed to extract the maximum value after signing him to a four-year, $73 million contract. It was always going to take time for Fournier to adjust to his new role, but it seems as if he’s finally settling in and developing legitimate chemistry with his teammates.