With Phil Jackson out, the Knicks are relying more on analytics, according to Jeff Hornacek, but he doesn’t want to get too crazy with it in making playing-time decisions.
Knicks president Steve Mills, when first hired to run the show in place of Glen Grunwald in 2013, was hailed by owner James Dolan for being ready to install a deeper analytics program. Mills lasted as the top guy for only six months, until old-schooler Jackson came aboard.
In new general manager Scott Perry, Mills hired a personnel man, according to sources, who is a strong proponent of advanced statistics. The growing trend is to determine a player’s worth more on his mathematical numbers rather than watching on-court effectiveness with the eye.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey was at the forefront of NBA’s analytics movement — stressing 3-pointers and paint shots — and they showed it Monday at the Garden with a shot chart virtually bereft of mid-range attempts.
In contrast, Jackson’s triangle emphasized mid-range jumpers, considered the game’s most inefficient shot.
Hornacek believes the organization now falls somewhere in the middle.
“(We’e doing it) a fair amount,’’ Hornacek said. “I’m not sure we’re as much as other teams, but I’m sure we’re more than other teams. I heard some organizations, you can develop draft picks and starting lineups just looking at analytics.’’
Hornacek thinks the newfangled numbers are occasionally overemphasized, especially deciphering defensive aptitude with “defensive ratings.”
“What’s the defensive analytics?’’ Hornacek said. “All those numbers, you’re out there with five guys. One guy’s numbers might not be great but it might not be him. Analytics are good to look at and analyze things, but sometimes it can throw some confusion in there. I was an accounting major. You make the numbers look the way you want sometimes.”
The topic arose when Hornacek discussed the amount of pick-and-rolls he wants to run and whether it always involves the point guard. Hornacek said he doesn’t have an explosive point guard that can attack the rim off picks like last season with Derrick Rose.
Hornacek said the club does a heavy analysis on pick-and-roll efficiency. Ironically, Jackson’s triangle requires few pick-and-rolls. The Knicks are only running triangle actions on post-up plays.
“We have internal stuff — points per possession is always a good one on what you’re getting out of that pick and roll,’’ Hornacek said. “A lot of times you look at it, we run the pick and roll and getting 1.1 points per possession, but when with the point guard, we’re scoring 0.9. But when he hits the roller, we’re scoring 1.3. You find those trends. That will be a bigger trend for us is playing out of the roller.”
Second-year small forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas, out with a calf strain, will make his preseason debut Friday against the Wizards. Kuzminskas will find it hard to make the rotation after additions of Michael Beasley and Doug McDermott and the leadership emergence of Lance Thomas. … C Joakim Noah has missed the past two practices with an illness and won’t play Friday. Hornacek had told Noah he wouldn’t get much time in exhibitions because he will miss the first 12 games with a drug suspension.
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