New York Knicks Struggling To Defend The Pick And Roll

The New York Knicks have run the worst defense in the NBA through 30 games. The inability to defend the pick and roll is the source of New York’s problems.


The New York Knicks are the worst defensive team in the NBA. That may seem irrational in theory, but the numbers through six games paint the picture of New York being the worst defensive team in the Association.

The Knicks have the personnel to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, but an inability to defend the pick and roll has Jeff Hornacek’s crew off to a 2-4 start.

New York currently ranks No. 30 in the NBA in defensive efficiency with 110.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. It’s No. 26 in both scoring defense at 109.8 points allowed per game and opponent field goal percentage at 46.4 percent.

According to Mike Vorkunov of The New York Times, franchise player Carmelo Anthony believes that the Knicks’ inability to defend the pick and roll is the key to its defensive struggles.

“That’s the way the game of basketball is being played these days; regardless of whether we want to admit to it or not, that’s the game of basketball,” Anthony said. “Everybody runs it. If you can figure out a way how to stop that, you think you can be successful.”

If New York can’t stop it, then it must be able to contain it.

The pick and roll is a great play to create quick and efficient offense. It creates opportunities for both the ball-handler and the dive man to get loosely contested looks at the basket, and it causes rotations by opposing defenses.

Perhaps the most ideal effect is the manner in which it forces rim protectors to move, as they’re traditionally getting by more on their size and length than their agility.

The Knicks are getting beat on a consistent basis, which includes improper rotations and openings being created for corners 3s.

New York has two potential defensive anchors in power forward Kristaps Porzingis and center Joakim Noah. Neither player has been successful in deterring the pick and roll, however, and the perimeter players have been just as ineffective.

Starting point guard Derrick Rose agreed with Anthony’s take on which play is giving the Knicks’ defense the most issues.

“It was defense the entire game,” said Rose, who had 18 points and 8 assists. “We have to figure out what we want to do with the 1-3 and 1-4 pick-and-roll. It was multiple times where two guys went to one guy, or it was just miscommunication, and they made us pay for it.”

Defending what may be the most prominent play in basketball will define New York’s season.

Noah won the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year award and has three career All-Defensive Team appearances. Courtney Lee has displayed lockdown ability on defense and Porzingis has the untapped potential of a Defensive Player of the Year, as well.

The results haven’t reflected the quality of the personnel, however, and that’s all that truly matters in this instance.

Thankfully, the New York Knicks have identified the primary issue with the most inefficient defense in the NBA.

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