What exactly do the New York Knicks have in Evan Fournier?

New York Knicks, Evan Fournier. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
New York Knicks, Evan Fournier. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks: Expectations for Evan Fournier

Going into this offseason, there seemed to be a pretty rare consensus among fans and analysts that the focus for the Knicks would be to add players who could create their own shot.

Whether or not it was Evan Fournier, Norman Powell, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Gary Trent Jr., Lonzo Ball — whoever it was, people wanted to see that cap space spent on a “shot-creator”. Someone who could make something happen off the dribble.

I was on board with the Evan Fournier signing. I thought his shot creation skills would be a much-need boost to the offense. That when Randle was in those pressure situations that he was in last season and the only person who could bail him out was Derrick Rose, Fournier would be able to become another option where the team could generate instant offense.

His usage rate is also the lowest it’s been since 2015-16 and his assist-to-usage rate is the lowest it’s been since his rookie season, so his lack of playmaking is at least partially a result of the imperfect fit so far in Tom Thibodeau’s system.

As I’ve gotten to watch Evan Fournier up close for half of an NBA season, there are particular parts to his game where you see why it’s not an ideal fit.

This Evan Fournier signing has really made me take analyzing how players get their shots more intensely than ever — their moves, their strengths and weakness, and why that matters so much.

The bottom line with Fournier is that he isn’t an “initiator” of team offense. He can make some nice reads with his passing and is certainly better than the Knick he replaced (Reggie Bullock) at passing, but where he really struggles is getting into the teeth of the defense.

Fournier just isn’t great at getting to the rim. He doesn’t have much explosiveness or desire to attack the rim and it isn’t getting defenses to rotate or have to put too much work into defending him.

For Evan Fournier, “generating his own shot” means dancing along the perimeter. Fournier is good at 3-4 dribble combos, hopping along the perimeter, and hitting down difficult shots off the dribble. He’s a very good shooter.

He hasn’t been a dropoff from Bullock whatsoever as a catch-and-shooter player — He’s shooting 44.1% on corner 3s this season. 

Still, that scoring can be streaky.

Fournier is a microwave scorer — When he’s hot, he can take over a game. He has been at the forefront of wins this season. He’s also been front and center for some losses as well.

It’s more than the offense, it’s the defense, or lack thereof. It’s just not a strong suit for Fournier. He’s stiff, non-commital, timid, and the hard rotations of Thibs system just haven’t come naturally for Evan Fournier.

I don’t even think it’s all “effort”, it’s really just his awareness on defense isn’t strong. The game doesn’t come easy for him on that side of the ball.

Yet even with his shortcomings, he can still be a part of the New York Knicks’ success.

Especially as of late, I think we’ve seen New York start to realize that RJ Barrett is much more of that secondary creator who can get into the paint and force defenses to rotate and break down, while Fournier can be counted on as a knockdown shooter and a player to feed when he has the hot hand.

So who are some players around the NBA that are comparable to Evan Fournier?