The Knicks 2022-23 season by the numbers: Where did it go wrong or right?

Jalen Brunson Knicks
Jalen Brunson (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Knicks season is over following their 96-92 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. 

As we take stock of the 2022-23 season and attempt to determine just how much of a success it was for a Knicks team that was projected by many to have just 36 wins, I figured it was fitting to dive into the numbers. By looking at various stats, we can begin to determine which areas helped to fuel the success of the Knicks’ season and which areas offer the most glaring paths for improvement.

Below are some of the key storylines for the Knicks season, using stats to put the pieces together. 

Jalen Brunson Emerged as a True Star

The one clear fact about the Knicks’ season is that Jalen Brunson is worth every single penny the team spent on him. He emerged as a bonafide star this year and taken the mantle as the clear leader for the Knicks going forward. 

  • 14th in offensive rating among players averaging over 20 mins per game
  • 27th in points per game
  • 33rd in player impact estimate among players averaging over 20 mins per game
  • 38th in usage among players averaging over 20 mins per game
  • 4th in points per game in clutch situations (five-point game in the final five minutes)

He stepped it up even more in the playoffs, where he was:


The Rotation Change Was a Huge Success

One of the biggest storylines of New York’s season was the rotation change after the December 3rd loss to the Mavericks. Thibodeau moved Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose out of the rotation entirely, moved Miles McBride into a bench role, and Quentin Grimes into the starting lineup. It was clearly a season-defining moment for the Knicks and made this run in the playoffs possible. 

Prior to the December 4th rotation change

  • Ranked 21st with a .458 winning percentage
  • Ranked 21st with a -1.3 plus/minus
  • Ranked 15th in offensive rating, 23rd in defensive rating, and 22nd in net rating

After the December 4th rotation change

  • Ranked 6th with a .627 winning percentage
  • Ranked 4th with a +4.8 plus/minus
  • Ranked 3rd in offensive rating, 17th in defensive rating, and 5th in net rating


Physicality and Rebounding Were a Team Strength

Mitchell Robinson Knicks
Miami Heat center Cody Zeller, left, watches New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson fall over Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry (7) while fighting for a rebound in the first half of Game 2 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Knicks Don’t Have Enough Shooting

One of the biggest issues for the Knicks was that they didn’t have enough shooting on the court with various lineups. Many of the Knicks players who play big minutes (Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Josh Hart, Isaiah Hartenstein, Obi Toppin) are inconsistent or poor shooters.


The Knicks Offense is Too Isolation-Centric

Another major issue with the New York office was that it was way too isolation centric. While Miami displayed incredible ball movement in their series win over the Knicks, New York seemed to have little to no ball movement on many possessions. That was the case during the season as well. 


The Knicks Have a Defensive Problem With their Big Three

One of New York’s biggest issues going forward will be trying to close games with Brunson, Rande, and Barrett all on the court since they all ranked poorly in defensive metrics. 

Tom Thibodeau Knicks
New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, left, argues a call with referee Scott Foster (48) during the first half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, Friday, May 12, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Thibodeau’s Defensive Philosophy Needs to Change

While Tom Thibodeau has built a reputation as a defensive-minded coach, the results were simply not there for the Knicks this year. Thibodeau claims that he uses his own metrics and stats to evaluate his defense, but his strategy is not conducive to the modern NBA. The Knicks would aggressively help off of shooters to fill the lane and take away penetration. That would then cause them to have to rotate to close out to the nearest shooter, which then caused a scrambling chaos of Knicks players flying out at the nearest shooter to prevent three-point shots. 

Many teams used this chaos against the Knicks during the season, and Miami exposed it again during the playoffs, using ball movement and pump fakes to get Knicks defenders flying past them and hoist up open looks from three. While teams may not have shot a high percentage from deep against the Knicks, that’s less because of New York’s defense and more because of the law of averages when teams shoot as often as they did against New York from long range. 

Obviously, we’ll have a lot more to come in the weeks ahead about this Knicks’ season. It was mostly a clear success, but there is certainly room for growth heading into next year. 

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