Gut-wrenching loss last night to the bucks. This was a game they lost in the last few minutes after being up by 14 in the second half. When it came down to crunch time the Bucks - particularly Antetokounmpo - made shots while the Knicks - I'm looking at you, Melo - did not.
Yes, Melo had a good game, statistically. And we probably put too much emphasis on the last few minutes of a close game which diminishes all that came before it. But...still...when the game is on the line...when a single shot makes the difference between winning and losing...AND YOU MAKE IT...this is what we call Clutch.
It feels to me, as a regular Knick game viewer, that Melo misses a lot of shots at the end of the game. I wondered if this was anecdotal, or if there are statistics that can point me one way or the other. So I went to the Basketball Reference Shot Finder to see if I could find out. Pretty Geeky thing to do, I know, but it showed some interesting data:
First - here are the Crunch Time stats for Melo as a Knick this season, and the previous 2 seasons. For this review I have defined Crunch Time as the final 2 minutes of the 4th quarter or OT, with the teams within 5 points of each other. In other words, time is running out and every shot counts.
2016-17 (this season)
I find this data interesting, and it reinforces my gut feel that Melo has not been Clutch for the Knicks.
- Melo takes most of the Crunch Time shots. This season he has taken 50% more shots than the next volume shooter, Derrick Rose.
- A high percentage of his shots shots are 3-pointers (38%) with a low make rate (25%).
- He is assisted on only 31% of his baskets, which means that 70% of the time it is iso-Melo at work.
- These are pretty consistent numbers over the last 3 years. And in some cases getting worse: the percentage of 3-point shots has increased while his 3-point shooting percentage has remained steady at 25%.
Compare his Knicks Crunch Time stats with the same stats when he was with the Nuggets the year they made the conference finals in 2008-9:
- He was not as dominant, taking nearly the same amount of shots as the second-most player.
- He shot a much higher percentage (49%)
- He shot about the same percentage on 3-pointers, but made more of them.
- He was assisted on 55% of his baskets, which says that his shots were in the flow of the offense and not as much iso-Melo.
My take-away from this analysis is that iso-Melo is not very efficient at Crunch Time. But this is not entirely Melo's fault. Watching the end of last night's game - and many previous games - the Knicks offense breaks down. There is not much ball movement, or player movement, and it devolves into hero ball. What is Melo supposed to do when he gets the ball with 10 seconds on the shot clock and all the other players stand around and wait for him to do something? He does what a scorer always does, he hoists up the best shot he can create.
Is this a coaching issue? Or do the players ignore the coaches and just play the way they want to play? I don't know the answer to this. But it is clear that Melo has not been Clutch for quite a while.