While Keith Schlosser tackled this topic on Tuesday, Tommy Dee adds his thoughts on Derrick Rose, Jeff Hornacek and the new-look triangle today...
Perhaps the biggest question attached to the Knicks after their extremely active off season is centered around Jeff Hornacek and Derrick Rose. Can the duo, arguably the two biggest moves of the Phil Jackson Era, co-exist in what figures to be an updated version of the triangle offense? To answer this question in succinct video form there literally is no one better than my friend Coach Nick of BBallBreakdown.com.
The thing that stands out to me immediately is just how much Hornacek's offense in Phoenix mirrors many of the foundational principles of The Triangle. Ideally, the Knicks wouldn't need much Triangle as they'd get the lion share of their points in transition and early in the shot clock thanks to the ability of Rose to push against the defense off of misses. Since they'll have to settle for their fair share of half court action, it's great to see that Rose and Noah should have no trouble integrating into the Triangle having run it in Chicago. In fact, I'm not sure there's a big man better suited for it than Joakim Noah.
When you factor in those pieces, the next player who seems to fit is Courtney Lee. He's a spot shooting specialist in a more efficient way than Arron Afflalo was and that should help Rose when he drives and draws attention from the defense. Lee averaged 3.7 points per game off the catch making one three pointer and shooting 40.5 percent from three. More importantly he had a 56.6% effective field goal percentage. While Afflalo averaged more points off the catch (4.1) he shot just 38% from the field including 36.6% from three and finished with just 50.5 eFG%. Defensively, Lee would appear to be a slight upgrade as he finished with a 109 defensive rating in comparison to Afflalo's 112 per basketball-reference.com. Granted, the Knicks were a much worse defensive team than the systems Lee played in last year in Memphis and Charlotte.
A big part of this offensive integration is the continued development of Kristaps Porzingis and it's clear to see that he can be utilized as a face-up player as well as in the post. Rose hasn't played with a big man who shoots with Porzingis' range in his career. He had great chemistry with Pau Gasol, but now has a player who can space the floor making his drives even that much more effective. Porzingis can pull rim defenders away from the basket clearing the lane for Rose to exploit. One pet peeve Coach Nick has is Rose's propensity to make jump passes, which is a major flaw for any point guard. But, in Porzingis, Rose has a safety net in the form of a 7'3 player to retrieve Rose if he gets himself in trouble by leaving his feet.
As always, the offense begins and ends with Carmelo Anthony and what's very encouraging is what type of shots Melo can get later in the shot clock off of early action from Rose and the other pinch post players like Noah and Porzingis. At this point in his career the safe bet is that Melo is a mid range, mid-shot clock player and that's why the "modern" version of the Triangle should fit him like a glove. Last year, 41% of Anthony's shot attempts came between 7-15 seconds left on the shot clock and 605 of his 1,307 total field goal attempts (46%) came in the mid-range area per NBA stats. What Rose can give get early in the shot clock should pair perfectly with what Anthony can get mid-to-late in the possession. Getting off shots in the early and mid part of the clock creates more possessions, which will increase PACE statistics, as well as create more second opportunities and we've seen what Porzingis can do with those.
If Hornacek, who I'm told is already getting rave reviews from players this off season, can integrate the modern version of the triangle expect the Knicks offense to take a major step forward this year. Should they find a way to surge towards the top half of the NBA in offensive rating without sacrificing the growth they've made defensively (18th last year) then the wins should quickly pile up.