All stats from Synergy Sports Technology unless otherwise noted.
With the Knicks in the top five in offensive efficiency, with the third-ranked pick and roll offense, it might not seem necessary for the team to reinvent the wheel.
Still, the statistics, most notably Carmelo Anthony’s, indicate that their pick and roll game can be even more effective.
Currently, the Knicks run a pick and roll on 22.27% of their offensive possessions, their second most frequent play behind only spot-ups (23.74%).
On the pick and roll, New York averages 0.95 points per possession, which, as mentioned is third-best in the league.
So how can this improve? The team’s pick and roll can be even better by including the team’s most prolific player.
Carmelo Anthony has been efficient as both the ball handler and roll man on the pick and roll, yet has not gotten enough touches in either role.
On the team’s 1375 pick and roll plays, Anthony is involved as either the ball handler or screener 13.24% of the time, and scores at a very solid 1.11 points per possession on these plays.
Anthony may not be a great playmaker (as evidenced by his pedestrian 9.06% overall assist rate this season according to Hoopdata), but he is an efficient scorer as a P&R ball handler. As the ball handler, Anthony averages 1.04 points per possession, good for fourth overall in the NBA. On such plays, Anthony has an effective field goal percentage of 50%, which includes 13 of 26 from three point range.
Anthony has been an even more efficient scorer as the roll man, a task he should be taking on much more.
He boasts 1.5 points per possession as the roll man, best among all NBA players in that role. On such occasions, Anthony has shot 14 of 22 from the field, including 5 of 7 from beyond the arch (good for a 75% eFG%).
With these numbers in mind, perhaps it is surprising that Anthony is used as the roll man on only 2% of the team’s pick and rolls.
Why is this? In a post on this subject from last December, Beckley Mason of The New York Times suggests that perhaps ‘Melo is not used on the pick and roll because it is something he does not want to do.
Mason notes that Anthony would rather isolate or post up, but really, given his success running the play, there is no excuse not to use it more. Anthony is more efficient as both a ball handler and roll man than he is on isolations (0.87 PPP), and is more efficient as the screener than he is spotting up (1.11 PPP).
With Amare Stoudemire out for 6-8 weeks, coach Mike Woodson needs to utilize Anthony on the pick and roll now more than ever.
One possibility is for increased usage of Anthony as the ball handler with center Tyson Chandler as the roll man.
Chandler is another Knick who has done well on the pick and roll. His 1.34 points per possession on the pick and roll make him the seventh most efficient roll man in the league, and he shoots just under 69% off the play.
The Knicks pick and roll has been an area of strength this season, but by getting Anthony more involved, as both a roll man and ball handler, it can be even more effective.