The New York Knicks entered the 2022-23 season full of expectations. The team had hopes of returning to the playoffs, especially after signing Jalen Brunson to a four-year, $104 million contract in free agency. But so far this season, things have been far from perfect.
The team is just 5-5, tied with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference. While New York has won versus rebuilding organizations such as the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons, it has struggled against stronger teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks.
While there is still a lot of basketball until the postseason, the Knicks’ 2022-23 start is revealing some problems on the roster. If they want to compete in the East, the front office must address one specific issue, or at the very least the players must improve in that area.
Biggest early problem Knicks must fix in 2022-23
In New York, all eyes on the team’s big-name players, Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. The trio is expected to lead the Knicks throughout the next couple of years. At face value, they are all having solid seasons.
Randle is leading the team with 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Brunson is right behind him with 19.7 points and a team-best 7.3 assists, while Barrett is averaging 19.6 points, 5.8 boards and 2.9 assists.
However, all three have suffered the same debilitating issue in the season’s early going: They are struggling to make 3-point shots. Randle is shooting 33.3% from deep, Brunson is at 30.8% and Barrett right below him at 29.3%. Not only that, but the trio’s three-point shooting is a reflection of the Knicks woes from beyond the arc as a whole.
After its first 10 games, New York is shooting 33.9% on threes as a team, 22nd in the league. Another problem is that the Knicks are No. 11 in the league in 3-point attempts per game, with 34.8.
Randle, Brunson and Barrett lead the team in field goal attempts, being the only players on the roster who take more than nine shots per game. If they are not making their three-pointers, it almost automatically makes New York as a whole struggle in that area. No one on the Knicks is making two or more 3-pointers per game, but six players are attempting three or more.
Last season, the New York in the top half of the league with a 35.7% average from beyond the arc. For comparison, that mark was better than playoff teams’ like the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks.
One of the main reasons for New York’s decline from the three-point line is the loss of Alec Burks. He was traded in the offseason to the Detroit Pistons to clear cap space for Brunson. The veteran led the Knicks in three-point shooting percentage last season, connecting on 40.4% from long-range with 157 makes, second-best on the team.
If the Knicks are really aiming for the playoffs, the front office might need to act. An option could be exploring the free agent market. Wayne Ellington and Matt Thomas are three-point specialists who would likely only require the veteran minimum to join the team. Another option is a reunion with Carmelo Anthony, who hit 37.5% of his 3-pointers with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021-22.
New York could also explore some trades with rebuilding teams who might be willing to trade away their veterans. San Antonio’s Doug McDermott and Buddy Hield of the Indiana Pacers would be viable targets.
Although it is still early in the 2022-23 season, the sooner the Knicks address the three-point issue, the better. If they wait too long, the best options might not be available anymore, depending solely on major improvement from incumbents that seems unlikely to come.