This page can now be found at http://analyzetheoffense.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-york-knicks-seven-seconds-or-less.html
The New York Knicks’ Seven Seconds or Less Offense
Those who are familiar with Mike D’Antoni are also probably familiar with his Seven Seconds or Less Offense. He was very successful with his offense with the Phoenix Suns and many Knicks fans might have been excited to see his system run with two very capable offensive talents – Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Unfortunately, the Knicks’ record has been rather disappointing so far. While much of the blame can be placed on defense, I want to take a look at their offense to see why this system is performing below expectations.
Seven Seconds or Less
Those who are familiar with the system are probably used to plays with Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire similar to this one:
The system pushes the pace in an attempt to capitalize on early mismatches or quick pick and rolls that put pressure on the defense to make the right decision. This offensive philosophy is evident when looking at the number of transition attempts the Knicks have. At the time of this writing 12.8% of all offensive plays from the Knicks come in transition.
The theory is that generally transition baskets render a higher point-per-possession because the defense hasn’t had a chance to set up yet. The same philosophy is what drives the Miami Heat’s Pace and Space Motion Offense. However, the Knicks are 21st in the league in points-per-possession in transition and it’s largely because they try to push the issue too often and force transition attempts.
Here we see a few of the transition attempts.
If the transition offense isn’t available the Knicks run a pick and roll motion offense. The play often begins with a 4-out-1-in high set pictured below.
If you’ve followed my previous posts this set is probably very familiar by now. We’ve seen the 4-out-1-in when discussing the Heat’s Pace and Space, the Lakers’ Strong Corner Offense, and the Mavericks’ version of the 4-out-1-in last year. This particular version of the 4-out-1-in is most similar to the Mavericks’ variation where the inside man is used to set perimeter picks, but where the Mavericks tend to use the inside man to free up perimeter players off the ball, the Knicks use the inside man primarily as a source of a pick and roll.
The offense, therefore, is keyed by how the defense plays the pick and roll. If the ball defender goes over the pick, presumably the ballhandler is free for a drive to the basket. If the ball defender goes under the pick, the ballhandler might be open for a shot. If the pick defender hedges on the ballhandler, the roll man should be open to receive a pass. If the pick defender doesn’t hedge, the ballhandler may be open for a drive. If the defense switches, the offense is free to try to exploit the mismatch created.
The Knicks also adjust the placement of the perimeter players slightly as shown below.
The positioning of this set gives the pick and roll players a lot of space to work and offers kick out options. The weak side will generally rotate around the perimeter rather than make cuts to the basket to maintain pick and roll spacing and instead make drives to the basket.
Let’s take a look at how it works.
In this play we see Chandler as the inside man who sets a pick for Anthony. Chandler rolls to the basket but Anthony finds Stoudemire for the spot up jump shot. Ideally, the pick and roll will result in a shot opportunity for the two players involved but if the pick and roll is defended well, the spot up shooting options are the next option. It’s because of this that spot up shots make up the bulk of the Knicks’ shot attempts – making up 25% of all shot attempts.
Let’s take a look at how these opportunities arise.
You might notice a trend with these shot attempts. The spot up shooters have no movement and no means of freeing themselves up if they are closely guarded. One way to combat this is to ask your players to mix your perimeter shots with shot fakes and drives.
In our last clip we see Harrellson take a spot up shot from the corner, but this time he makes a perimeter drive to the basket.
This time we see Fields make a drive from the corner.
Notice in our last clip on the weak side Shumpert does rotate from the corner to the wing. This is the motion usually associated with a pick and roll style or dribble drive motion offense. Players should rotate along the perimeter to free themselves up from any perimeter defenders that gamble by helping defend the pick and roll to gain some additional distance from their defender.
In this clip Shumpert properly rotates up to the wing from the corner.
The offense is fairly simple but it can be very effective if run correctly.
The Knicks lead the league in isolation plays – 16.2% of their offense comes from isolation plays. Having a high percentage of isolation plays is not necessarily bad, the Thunder are second in the league in isolation plays at 15.2%. Obviously, isolation plays are only good in high doses if they’re effective. The Knicks are 26th in the league in points-per-possession off isolation plays. Compare that to the Thunder who are 1st in points-per-possession off isolation plays.
Part of the reason the Knicks run so many isolation plays is because it can be set up as a natural progression of their offensive set. If the inside man slips the pick for Carmelo Anthony then all the other players are already spaced appropriately for him to have an isolation.
Here we see Chandler slip the pick for Anthony and give him an isolation that results in a turnover.
Likewise, if during a pick and roll Amar’e decides not to roll to the basket, he will be in high post position for an isolation play.
Either player can also receive an isolation out of the typical clear out play. Here Anthony is given a clear out isolation.
The Knicks have been criticized lately for their lack of ball movement and ineffective offense, do you believe they deserve that criticism? If so, who is more at fault when the offense is ineffective? Is it D’Antoni for using a system that uses a system with less player movement than most systems or is it the players on the court for not executing the system well? Is there a better system available for this roster? Is D’Antoni being realistic with his players’ abilities? How will Baron Davis’ return change things? The Knicks are going to have to answer these questions if they want to see some improvement.
Another interesting question is how this system compares to the Heat’s Pace and Space Motion Offense. How is that system, with a similar emphasis on transition basket, performed differently than this one?