As recently outlined by the New York Daily News, the Knicks have undoubtedly relied upon the likes of veterans Carmelo Anthony and Arron Afflalo more often than Kristaps Porzingis during crunch time this season.
With the game on the line (i.e. the Knicks and their respective opponent within five points of one another with five or less minutes to go), Anthony has taken 47 shots, Afflalo has 45, but Porzingis has only taken 19.
Frankly, that's the way it should be. Coach Derek Fisher was pressed to explain why that is, and while he didn't do it in the best way -- "We don't run plays," he said before elaborating further -- choosing not to put more pressure on Porzingis right now is for the best.
There's no doubt Porzingis has impressive and rather limitless shooting range for a player his size. He can help spread the floor and put pressure on the defense to cover him beyond the arc, so there's an absolute benefit to having him on the floor. But he's still young, inexperienced, and is continuing to learn.
Thus, using Porzingis as a decoy to open up opportunities for others is probably the way to go. More importantly, Anthony and Afflalo can both create for themselves. Each player has the ability to put the ball on the floor and make things happen. Anthony can dribble the ball as time expires and lull his opponent to sleep before throwing up a worthwhile shot or driving to the basket. In Afflalo's case, he's a confident player who can post up, get to the basket, all in hopes of creating higher percentage opportunities.
It goes without saying that the Knicks not only trust, but will continue to specifically lean on and cater their crunch time offense around Anthony. But when he needs to look for help, New York should be depending on the veteran Afflalo more than Porzingis. So far, it's clear they have been.
But in doing so, here's to hoping the shooting guard will continue to step up, Though he tallied his highest point average all season (15.2), Afflalo also shot his lowest field-goal percentage (42%) in the month of January. He needs to be more efficient, and quickly, too. The Knicks are in desperate need of someone who can create and make things happen behind Anthony. For the latter two plus months of 2015, Afflalo undoubtedly was that guy. But now that he's beginning to waver, albeit it just a bit, there's more talk about why Porzingis isn't as involved or prevalent in the team's offense.
The team needs to continue embracing that proper balance, but in order to do so, players need to step up and come through. Should Afflalo get back on track, that will make things seemingly easier, not only for Porzingis, but everyone else around him.