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Two weeks ago
Nov 5, 2018

The New York Knicks and Value of Ball Possession

What is Value of Ball Possession?

Are the New York Knicks improving?

Questions the Knicks need to answer

The New York Knicks and Value of Ball Possession

The New York Knicks are one of the most intriguing teams in the NBA. This article looks at whether The Knicks improving, Value of Ball Possession analysis and the questions the franchise need to answer.

After the Golden State Warriors claimed their third title in the last four years we have seen almost all teams scramble to improve their rosters to some degree to catch up. 

This article is an in-depth look at the New York Kicks and how their roster improvements are potentially setting them up for future success.

2017 – 2018 NBA Regular season record: 

29 Wins - 53 Losses (did not qualify for the NBA Playoffs) 

Major issue during last season:

Losing Kristaps Porzingis to injury was a big blow and he has still not returned. The Knicks leadership also failed to maintain the team.

New additions to the team: 

Head Coach David Fizdale, Kevin Knox (Draft pick), Mitchell Robinson (Draft pick), Mario Hezonja (free agency), Noah Vonleh (free agency) 

Departures from the team: 

Coach Jeff Hornacek, Michael Beasley, Kyle O’Quinn 

What happened last season and during the off-season? 

It was obvious at the beginning of last season that Coach Hornacek did not have a lot of time left with the team. Especially given that newly appointed GM Scott Perry had taken over and was doing a solid job after selecting two amazing draft picks in Knox and Robinson. 

Once the inevitable happened and Hornacek was out the Knicks management opted to bring in Coach Fizdale, a very popular assistant coach during the “Big Three” era while LBJ was in Miami. Fizdale whom learned a lot from both Pat Riley and Eric Spoelstra. 

After a recent tenure achievement in Memphis Coach Fizdale is hungry for a new attempt at making it to the NBA playoffs.

When we look at things more in depth in terms of the draft picks that New York made use of, it is with solid decision making that they opted to go for the 18-year old Knox who had a great Summer League run. 

They also unearthed a great two way player in Mitchell Robinson who, as a seven footer, has the ability to not only run the floor but also finish strongly around the rim. These qualities, in addition to his ability to defend players of equal or faster pace, has already refreshed the Knicks. 

Given Scott Perry’s tenure in Orlando and his experience taking part in the decision to draft Mario Hezonja, it was only obvious that “Super Mario” would make his way north to New York since Orlando Magic did not extend Hezonja’s rookie contract. The fact that Perry stepped in and signed him as a free agent ensured the big man/forward rotation of the Knicks became stronger. 

2019 and beyond: Off the court moves and looking forwards 

While the first games of the regular season have been played, for the Knicks the more critical period will be the 2019 off season as well as the draft lottery. 

The franchise will potentially have over 30 million dollars to spend. The question of who they will sign as their star player next will be an interesting one. 

New York over the last decade have not been very successful in utilizing their big city status to pull in a star. Their best success over the last 10 years was when Amare Stoudamire was in the city.

Furthermore the fact that Carmelo Anthony had a strong influence on the franchise’s image made things difficult. 

However, since 2019 is likely to be the summer that New York final sees a star coming to the city (such as Kyrie Irving, a NJ product) could potentially change the perception of the franchise for the better. 

The upper management of New York have placed their trust in Scott Perry to make the city attractive once again for not just NBA fans of the city but also for the global market place. There are lots of changes that are taking place behind the scenes within the organization that is allowing New York to become a top Eastern conference contender once again. 

The Knicks analysed based on Age of the League & Value of Ball Possession 

First of all to explain the way this insightful statistical anlysis works:

Value of Ball Possession (VBP) = the league’s average points scored per possession

For this explanation I ran about 10,000 simulations and came to the following conclusion. 

I took the initial games played and worked up further regular season stats and from the simulated outcomes for this season show that NBA teams, on average, will have the ability to score 97.5 points per game. 

Given this case and the simulations per 100 possessions we are looking at a value of 0.97 points per possession for this season. The top 5 teams that should perform above the average include the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.

Added to the above we also need to take into account that, for the first time in over a decade, the Knicks have the youngest team in the NBA with an age average of 24.15. This includes all the two way players that are on all NBA rosters across the league. 

New York are ranked as the ninth best team in the league for Value of Ball Possession when taking into consideration their age profile. They also hold the highest potential VBP against major opponents such as the Warriors and the Lakers. 

Questions that the New York Knicks still need to answer

Despite their potential the Knicks need to answer several questions. 

Will Porzingis be able to return during this season, and will he be able to make a good enough impact to stay in New York after a long layoff? 

Even with the potential addition of a star will the Knicks be able to make play well enough during the first half of regular seasons to get the required 18 to 20 wins? 

Can they score more than 98 points per game at a 1.15 points per possession pace? Can they use their energetic young players effectively and create enough defensive movement to force turnovers on their opponents? 

All of these issues need to be addressed but for the first time in a while there are reasons to be optimistic for Knicks fans.

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