Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, the New York Knicks were an NBA-best 8-1. While there have been plenty of factors attributing to the great start, one thing really sticks out above everything else- ball security.
As a team, the Knicks are taking outstanding care of the basketball and the proof is in the pudding.
After Tuesday’s victory against the New Orleans Hornets, in which they coughed up the rock only 10 times, it marked the sixth time already in the young season that these Knicks have committed 10 or less turnovers in a game.
By comparison, they accomplished that feat a grand total of five times all of last season.
What has been the difference?
It’s easy to point to the fact that the Knicks are a veteran team now, but especially in the backcourt where having not one, but two great ball handlers and decision makers in Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd has made all the difference in the world.
The reason the Knicks are 8-1 is they aren’t coughing up the ball and allowing teams to get easy baskets in transition, which given how good their half-court defense has become, makes all the difference in the world.
But let’s look at Felton in particular and how good he has become.
Certainly his scoring has been a bonus and he’s been in great shape and focused on winning, but his decision making has been outstanding.
Through nine games, Felton has coughed it up only 19 times (2.1 per game). His season high was only four against Philadelphia the second game of the season. On two other occasions he turned it over three times. That means in six of the Knicks games, Felton has coughed it up two times or less.
You can’t ask for anything more than that.
Just to compare, former Knicks’ point guard Jeremy Lin already has 29 turnovers on the season (2.65 per game).
It’s an area that Lin has improved slightly in, but even considering that fact, chances are slim-and-none that he would be able to run this Knicks’ offense with the precision that Felton has done so far and it’s even more of a stretch to think the Knicks would be sitting at 8-1 right now had they decided to match Lin’s contract instead of pulling off the sign-and-trade for Felton.
That’s not a knock on Lin. That’s just illustrating exactly how good Felton has been.
Taking care of the basketball has been the main reason that the Knicks have accomplished what they have so far.
Of course they turned it over 14 times (Felton, 4) and lost to the Mavericks, but you can see how much better the Knicks have become in terms of taking care of the basketball.
If this keeps up, it will be exciting to see how good this team can really be.