New York Knicks: Statistics Keeping them Out of the Playoffs


The New York Knicks may be out of the playoff hunt, but it is never too early to start thinking about what went wrong and what could be done better.

Perhaps a good starting point involves reflecting on the 1996 movie “Eddie.”  In this film,  Whoopi Goldberg plays “Edwina “Eddie” Franklin,” a limousine driver and avid Knicks fan, who becomes an honorary coach after winning a free throw competition.  Her success as an honorary coach led to a full-time position in which she turned things around for the team.

Perhaps “Eddie” is not viewed as one of the greatest sports movies of all time; however, it presents a scenario where the Knicks go from zeros to heroes.  While it is unlikely that Derek Fisher will be replaced by a limousine driver anytime soon, it is certainly time to start figuring out how to turn things around in Manhattan.


The Knicks have been nothing short of a defensive nightmare this season.  If you have been watching the games live, listening to audio broadcasts, or seeing the posts of disdainful fans on social media, you likely agree.  Perhaps even more convincing, however, are the hard statistics.

According to, the Knicks currently rank 23rd in Steals (7.0 per game), 22nd in Blocks (4.4 per game), and 30th in Defensive Rebounds (29.6 per game).  In comparing the Knicks’ defensive statistics to the top-five defensively ranked teams, there is a major correlation between dominant defense and playoff contention.


Regarding steals, four of the five ranked teams are in playoff contention.  The Philadelphia 76ers, despite sitting second to last in the standings, lead the league with an average of 9.8 steals per game (SPG).  Kudos to the 76ers for that stat, but the rest of the ranks are quite telling.  Here are the top-five ranked teams in steals per

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (9.8 SPG P, 14th seed in Eastern Conference)
  2. Houston Rockets (9.6 SPG, 4th seed in the Western Conference)
  3. Milwaukee Bucks (9.6 SPG, 6th seed in the Eastern Conference)
  4. Golden State Warriors (9.4 SPG, 1st seed in the Western Conference)
  5. Atlanta Hawks (8.8 SPG, 1st seed in the Eastern Conference)

It should come as no surprise that both 1st place seeds in the NBA are dominant defenders.  This is one area of focus that could propel the Knicks in the standings next year.   Though it is only one statistic, it appears to be working for many of the teams that lead the league in steals.

Mar 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) attempts to steal the ball from New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich (45) in the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports


Likely at least one NBA player in NBA history has once yelled or at least thought “Get that out of here!” after they have blocked another player’s shot.  Regardless, when examining the rankings, the teams who can regularly say or think those words are more likely headed to the playoffs.  Check out the top-five ranked teams in Blocks Per Game (BPG):

  1. Golden State Warriors (6.2 BPG, 1st seed in the Western Conference)
  2. Philadelphia 76ers (6.0 BPG, 14th seed in the Western Conference)
  3. Chicago Bulls (6.0 BPG, 4th seed in the Eastern Conference)
  4. New Orleans Pelicans (6.0 BPG, 9th seed in the Western Conference)
  5. Oklahoma City Thunder (6.0 BPG, 8th seed in the Western Conference).

While the 76ers continue to impress as defenders in the SPG and BPG categories, they will be likely be watching the playoffs from home.  However, the remaining top-four blocking NBA teams are highly competitive in the standings.  While the Pelicans are not currently in playoff contention, they are within inches of the Thunder.

As such, at least one of the 1st place seeds is dominant in this category, two of the leading teams are in playoff contention, with one closely trailing.  Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher, write that down.  Better blockers could mean better playoff chances for the Knicks.

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Defensive Rebounds 

Finally, we get to one of the most important statistics in basketball, the almighty defensive rebound.  In this category, all top-five ranked teams currently sit in playoff contention.   Here are the rankings:

  1. Portland Trailblazers (35.3 DREB, 4th seed in the Western Conference)
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder (35.1 DREB, 8th seed in the Western Conference)
  3. Indiana Pacers (34.6 DREB, 7th seed in the Eastern Conference)
  4. Golden State Warriors (34.4 DREB, 1st seed in the Western Conference)
  5. Charlotte Hornets (34.2, 8th seed in the Eastern Conference)

Again, we have a 1st place seed dominating in this category, and unlike the above listed categories, every single team leading the league in defensive rebounds is currently in playoff contention.  If the Knicks can address this void they will certainly improve next season.


While this season is likely to end on a low note for the Knicks, these statistics provide a great opportunity for the team to reevaluate its needs moving forward.  With an impressive and deep free agency pool this year, the Knicks could certainly make some great moves.  Aside from the marquee names that everyone will be buzzing over, here are some other potential targets who could really help the team.

Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks (1.91 steals per game this season):  He is a strong shooting guard and a competent rebounder.  However, he is also great at “pick-pocketing” on defense.  Ellis is an all-around player who could really bolster the Knicks both offensively and defensively.

Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons (10.4 rebounds per game, 1.05 steals per game this season):  A strong big man who can shoot, rebound, and steal, might be just what the Knicks need.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers (10.5 rebounds per game, 1.05 blocks per game this season):  Aldridge is a talented power-forward who could really dominate offensively.  Relative to this article, he would, without a doubt, complement the Knicks where they have struggled so much defensively this year.

At the end of the day, the Knicks will, of course, try their best to improve during the offseason as they do every year.  However, in a year where the only statistic they are leading the league in is losses (52), it is imperative that things start to change and soon.

Next: Who is the best point guard in Knicks history?

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