For all the talk of Carmelo Anthony’s brilliant two-way play and the Knicks’ suffocating defense, the team’s ability to limit turnovers may be the key to its 7-1 start.
Bedeviled by turnovers last year, when they averaged 16 per game, the Knicks have been remarkably under control this season.
They have committed just 83 turnovers in eight games — finishing in single digits on four occasions — for an average of just over 10 per contest. Compare that to 130 for the opposition, and it’s no secret why the Knicks are winning by such wide margins.
“It’s been across the board, it’s something we preached at the start of camp,” coach Mike Woodson said. “If you want to be a [good] offensive team, you got to get shots, you can’t give it back to the other team. Miss or make, you still have to get them up. We’ve been pretty good in that area. I just hope it continues. It’s important for our growth and where we want to go as a team.”
The reason for the turnaround can be traced to the new veteran backcourt of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, in addition to backup point guard Pablo Prigioni.
The Knicks have become a more plodding, halfcourt team, though there are times they push the ball when transition opportunities are there.
“Our guards are playing extremely well,” Anthony said.
The guards have a keen understanding of when to push the ball and when to pull it out, whom to get it to and in what spots, Woodson said.
“We understand the value of the ball on the offensive end,” Kidd said. “Guys understand taking care of the ball is important if you want to win, and so far we’ve done that.”
Besides winning, the coaching staff has created added motivation to keep turnovers down. For every turnover each game under 12, the coaches run a lap, which has become a source of amusement for the players.
“If you guys haven’t witnessed it, it’s pretty hysterical,” Tyson Chandler said. “We enjoy getting under that number and having them limp up and down the court. I think they owe us 12 or 13 from this road trip. We’ll see how many of them have to go under the knife after this. I know a couple of those guys with knee replacements won’t be able to handle it.”
Woodson said he began the practice in his days as coach in Atlanta at the suggestion of assistant coach Jim Todd, and the Hawks responded by winning 53 games and finishing third in offensive efficiency.
“We’re trying to see if we can get our coaches in shape,” Kidd said