Four games into the season and the New York Knicks are still undefeated. I have to admit, I’ve never been this excited about a Knicks team. The last time they started this strongly (1993-94), I was seven, so it makes sense. Usually, with teams who seem like they can’t keep up a great start (sorry, but it’s true), the underlying numbers make the case. With the Knicks, however, I’m not so sure. Let’s examine some NBA metrics to try to make a conclusion about this New York team.
Player Efficiency Rating (PER
This statistic, pioneered by ESPN’s John Hollinger, has become the poster-stat for basketball metric fans everywhere. Basically, it explains how effective a certain player is while on the court, taking into account a variety of factors. Currently, New York’s own Carmelo Anthony is ranked fourth in PER, mostly due to a very high Usage Rate (simply, how often he gets the ball on offense – ‘Melo leads the league) and the fact that he plays 36 minutes a game, third most in the top ten (behind Kobe and Kevin Durant).
The worrying part of this equation is Anthony’s poor True Shooting Percentage (TS%, what a player’s percentage would be with free throws and three pointers included, then adjusted). His .546 is by far lowest in the top ten, and the only person lower than him in the top-23 is Brook Lopez (who, in my opinion, kind of sucks). This is partially attributed to his poor free throw shooting early in the year, which should improve. I think Melo’s PER should hover around fifth in the league for most of the year, strictly due to the aforementioned Usage Rate. Continue reading