In 2013-14, few players surprised the NBA community quite as pleasantly as Arron Afflalo. The Orlando Magic only won 23 games, but Afflalo had a career-year with the scoring—both in volume and efficiency—of a rising star.
In 2015-16, Afflalo will have the opportunity to leave a forgettable 2014-15 season behind when he stars for the New York Knicks..
Afflalo missed New York’s first three preseason games due to a nagging hamstring injury. He’s also been forced to sit out of practice, which is a significant setback for a new signing looking to develop an understanding of his teammates’ on-court tendencies.
Fortunately, Afflalo is back and healthy.
In turn, Afflalo expects to play in either Friday or Saturday’s preseason games—or both.
Everything is beginning to be set in motion.
Afflalo’s absence was significant. Not only is he projected to be the starting shooting guard in 2015-16, but he’s the leading candidate to be New York’s No. 2 scoring option.
There’s a solid amount of depth surrounding Carmelo Anthony, but the absence of complementary star power makes Afflalo’s presence nothing short of vital.
No. 2 Scoring Option
If Afflalo is to fill the role of the No. 2 scoring option, New York needs to figure out exactly how he’s going to do so—right now. Whether he’s an off-ball shooter who utilizes screens or an on-ball playmaker who operates with versatility, his strengths and weaknesses within the Triangle Offense are only known only on paper.
Having a concrete answer on the court will alter the trajectory of the 2015-16 season.
Should Afflalo prove incapable of thriving in such a capacity, the Knicks need to know that before it’s too deep into the regular season. Committing a complete strategic 180 would be a setback, but if necessary, it would be best to do it early in the season.
Having Afflalo in the preseason would, at the very least, give him the opportunity to develop some level of in-game chemistry with his teammates.
Afflalo and Anthony played together in the past, but haven’t shared the perimeter since 2011. The rest of the Knicks are some combination of young, unproven or unfamiliar with Afflalo as a teammate.
If New York is lucky, it’ll be accommodating the 2013-14 version of Afflalo.
2013-14 was a glorious season for Arron Afflalo. In his first opportunity to be a featured scorer, he set a career-high in points per game average while maintaining a high level of efficiency.
For the year, Afflalo averaged 18.2 points on a slash line of .459/.427/.815.
According to NBA.com, Afflalo ranked No. 16 in points scored via catch-and-shoot opportunities in 2013-14. He did so on a catch-and-shoot field goal percentage of .448, which placed him at No. 10 in the Association.
Afflalo was also No. 16 in 3-point field goals made per game in said scenario, sinking 43.5 percent of his attempts—No. 7 in the NBA.
By all means and measures, Afflalo was one of best catch-and-shoot scorers in the league during the 2013-14 season. In 2014-15, his numbers plummeted, but amongst players with at least 5.0 catch-and-shoot field goal attempts per game, he was one of the 20 most accurate marksmen in the NBA, per NBA.com.
Assuming the Knicks maintain an adequate level of motion and ball movement on offense, Afflalo should thrive.
The obvious question for the New York Knicks is as follows: what can they fairly expect of Arron Afflalo? It’d be lovely to see Afflalo average an efficient 18.2 points per game again, but that may not be a realistic desire.
What can be expected of Afflalo, however, is 15-plus points per contest with strong shooting marks and a proficiency in both on and off-ball scoring situations.
For as prolific a catch-and-shoot scorer as Afflalo was in 2013-14, only 445 of his 1,330 points scored came in such situations. That means 66.5 percent of his points were scored outside of catch-and-shoot scenarios.
In 2013-14, Afflalo cracked the Top 25 in points via pull-up, per NBA.com. He was No. 2 in field goal percentage on such attempts.
By no means or measures is Afflalo incapable of creating his own offense. He’s actually quite lethal.
The good news for Afflalo is that the Triangle Offense will enable him to move off of screens and attempt open jumpers. The even better news is that New York has skilled big men who can pass, set hard screens and space the floor themselves.
A well-rounded scorer who can do a bit of everything in reasonable doses, Afflalo should have no trouble strongly filling in as New York’s second-leading scorer in 2015-16.
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