NY Knicks: Critical flaw on offense exposed by Lakers

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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NY Knicks
RJ Barrett, NY Knicks. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The NY Knicks have struggled at the rim all season long

The arrow for the Knicks’ offense has for the most part, steadily pointed up. This team has come a long way from where they were at the start of the season. It’s a quantum leap from where they were in 2019-20.

The individual improvements from core pieces like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett and the additions of Immanuel Quickley and Derrick Rose have enlarged the scope of what we thought was possible from the NY Knicks offense.

They’re one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA.

They’re also one of the worst “finishing at the rim” teams in the NBA.

From Cleaning The Glass, the Knicks as a team shoot 60.0% from within 4 feet of the basket. That’s 29th, 2nd worst in the league.

For some statistics, there are great teams who rank in the bottom 5. There are deficiencies that don’t necessarily matter if you are thriving in other more important areas.

For shooting within 4 feet, the bottom five teams are The Magic, Hornets, Cavaliers, Knicks, and Thunder. It’s not a good list.

I wrote an article earlier in the week about how the Knicks miss Mitchell Robinson’s physical presence in the paint. Between Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson, New York has had to scrape together anything they can get on the glass.

The offensive rebounding was absolutely an issue last night (NY lost the offensive rebound battle 14-5). However, it goes beyond the lack of physical presence in the paint. This is about the lack of finishing from important players.

From Cleaning The Glass: RJ Barrett shoots 55% at the rim. Julius Randle shoots 60%. Those numbers rank in the 23rd and 18th percentile for their respective positions.

What’s puzzling is that both of these players are noted for their strength. I’ve talked in length about how well Barrett can get to the rim but struggles to finish. He’s made improvements this year but still seems to have a raw move-set or layup package at the rim. He looks confident in transition, but in the half-court, he can look very clunky.

Julius Randle can also throw up some bizarre layup attempts. -We saw it happen on his last-second, awkward floater attempt in the dying seconds of the Lakers game.

Then, we saw Barrett elect to back up towards the halfcourt instead of put his head down and attack the rim in the final seconds of the game. What’s with the reluctance to use that strength and yam it down at all costs?

Again, this about more than those final two attempts. The Lakers wanted the Knicks to go to the rim. They shed light on some areas of the NY Knicks’ offense where they need to improve.