Thoughts on rumor of Iman Shumpert for Kenneth Faried

This week I decided to fire up NBA 2k13 (I can’t afford 2k14, gimme a break) for the first time in a while. I figured if the Knicks were doing so poorly in real life, I could at least start the Association Mode and make them a contender. One of the first moves I made was trading Iman Shumpert for Kenneth Faried.

About a day later, trade rumors began swirling around Shumpert and Faried.

Either I’m psychic or this is a total coincidence, but I won’t pass up the opportunity to toot my own horn.

So why do the Knicks feel compelled to make a move? Let’s examine their season so far.

The Knicks have looked deflated—and I’m not even sure that word does their struggles justice—while starting the season 2-4, including three straight losses at home. To make matters worse, they lost starting center, lead rebounder, defensive anchor and former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler to a broken leg in the team’s fourth game of the season.

In their three games without Chandler, including the game in which he was injured early in the first quarter, the Knicks have been out-rebounded by 18, 4, and 18. It’s worth noting that the game in which they were only out-rebounded by four was the game they won. But to be fair, that was against a Charlotte Bobcats team without starting center Al Jefferson.

Before losing Chandler to injury, the Knicks did fairly well in the rebounding department, with a plus/minus of +3, -6, and +6. That lone game they didn’t win the rebounding battle came against the Chicago Bulls, who are pretty darn good at cleaning the glass at No. 9 in the league.

For the season, the Knicks have a rebounding percentage of 46.2, second worst in the league.

Make no mistake: the Knicks would love to have Chandler’s nine rebounds per game he averaged to start the season. They also wouldn’t mind his 2.5 blocks, either.

Compounding their struggles rebounding is the Knicks’ inefficiency on offense, shooting a mere 43 percent from the field, good for No. 21 in the league. Their offense doesn’t get much help from the free throw line either, as they only average 17.5 free throws a game, second-last in the league. And while we’re focusing on the offense, they’re not exactly that great at moving the ball, averaging 18.5 assists per game, No. 24 in the league.

They have the sixth-lowest offensive rating in the league at 97.9 points scored per 100 possessions. Not good.

But to their credit, they’re only turning the ball over 14.8 times per game, which is good for eighth-best in the league. They also force 17.7 turnovers per game, seventh-best in the league.

Defensively, the Knicks are surrendering 97.8 points per game (No. 10), on 44.7 percent shooting (No. 13). The Knicks also allow 28.5 free throw attempts per game, fourth-most in the league. Their defensive rating, 102.9 points per 100 possessions, is the 11th-highest in the league.

To summarize, the Knicks are a lackluster rebounding team. Their offense is futile, as they are not moving the ball well, not shooting the ball well, and they’re not getting to the free throw line. Defensively, the numbers aren’t terrible, but I think that’s more a testament to how poor the offense is if teams don’t need to score much to beat them. They also allow their opponents to shoot free throws far too frequently.

Here’s how I see it: the Knicks can’t score, which leads to more rebounds—and more opportunities to score points—for the opposing offense. You may have heard the term “the best offense is a good defense.” Well in the Knicks case, their terrible offense is leading to terrible defense.

So let’s get back to Faried. How does Faried fix all of this?

To be honest, I’m not so sure he does.

For starters, Faried is almost exclusively a power forward, a position where the Knicks already have an abundance of players. Carmelo Anthony has done his best work the last few seasons from the power forward spot, while Andrea Bargnani, Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire have also logged minutes there this season. All four of those players are practically guaranteed to see the floor, whether it’s because of their contract (Bargs, STAT) or production (Anthony, Martin). However, with the injury to Chandler, Bargs and Martin have seen some minutes at center, as well.

However, Faried is a strong rebounder. His 8.5 rpg is No. 24 in the league, just a few spots behind Carmelo Anthony’s 9.0, No. 21 in the league. His rebounding percentage is also good for No. 20 in the league at 19.1 percent.

But outside of rebounding, what else does Faried offer a team? Well, a few highlight dunks, that’s for sure. But I think Knicks fans would rather have wins than flashy plays—although everybody appreciates the high-flying antics of Faried.

Offensively, so far this season Faried is averaging 8.8 points on 43.5 percent shooting. That’s not bad, considering he wouldn’t likely be relied on to score on a team with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. However, what’s most troubling are where Faried’s shots come from. Let’s take a look at his shot chart for this season.

Kenneth Faried's shot chart so far this season.

Kenneth Faried’s shot chart so far this season.

That’s 69.6 percent of Faried’s shots coming from under the basket. And yes, you do want players taking the most efficient shots that they can. However, Faried’s presence on the Knicks will absolutely kill their spacing offensively, a problem they’re already struggling with. For the sake of sample size, let’s take a look at Faried’s shot chart from last season, as well.

Kenneth Faried's shot chart for 2012-13 season.

Kenneth Faried’s shot chart for 2012-13 season.

Last year, an astounding 85.2 percent of Faried’s shots came from under the basket. That is incredibly alarming. Faried would, theoretically, play the majority of his minutes on offense under the basket.

If you recall, the Knicks urged Tyson Chandler to develop a jump shot this summer to prevent him from clogging the paint. Here is Chandler’s shot chart from last season.

Tyson Chandler's shot chart for 2012-13 season.

Tyson Chandler’s shot chart for 2012-13 season.

Even worse than Faried, 95.8 percent of Chandler’s shots came from under the basket last season. That’s practically unheard of.

So what happens when Chandler returns next month? He and Faried would certainly see minutes on the floor together. Chandler’s jumper isn’t exactly a proven commodity yet, and Faried hasn’t even show a willingness to shoot jumpers at all. If you ask me, I can’t see them meshing on the offensive end.

Which brings us back to the issue of player positions. If Faried plays power forward—which he does almost exclusively—Carmelo would be forced back to small forward, and Martin, Stoudemire, and Bargnani get pushed to center. None of those are good things.

Because he spends so much time in the paint, Faried must shoot a ton of free throws, right? Wrong. Last season, he averaged a mere 3.3 FTA per game—No. 77 in the league—and 61.3 percent from the line. Not that impressive.

But you might be asking, “What about his defense?” I’ll tell you.

Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post wrote an article in February in which he described Faries’ defense as “offensive.” While Faried is a capable defender, there’s no denying the numbers:

There have been a number of games in which an opposing post player has enjoyed a field day against the Nuggets. Indiana’s David West, for one, started a game 7-for-7. Chris Bosh. Glen Davis. Even Samuel Dalembert had a huge night when, at times, they were all being defended by Faried.

According to Synergy, a stats website, Faried’s defensive work ranks in the bottom 10 percentile in the league. That earns him a “poor” rating from the site, which breaks down every possession of every player. Faried is listed as “below average” defending post-ups, spot-ups and pick-and-rolls. He’s much better in isolation situations, but overall, his defense is well below average.”

And while most young players struggle defensively as they adjust to the size and speed of the NBA, the Knicks would be giving up one of the league’s best young defenders in Shumpert to acquire Faried. To me, that seems counterproductive. That being said, Faried is young and can still improve.

But playing in New York can make it difficult for young players to develop, as Carmelo Anthony said himself, “This city and this organization is not known for being patient.”

There’s no denying Faried’s ability as an energy and hustle guy. There’s no denying his proficiency on the boards. But what worries me is how he fits with this Knicks team that already has identity issues. He is limited to playing power forward due to his size. He doesn’t contribute much on offense besides dunks and layups. Defensively, he is far from a finished product.

The only reason I could use him on NBA 2k is because floor spacing and defense aren’t issues when you control the players yourself. Irrelevant, I know, but still fun.

Knicks fans are adamant about obtaining a player who can rebound, but they must remember to keep other aspects of the game in mind.

If you ask me, if the Knicks are truly insistent on making a trade involving Shumpert, they would be better off finding a young, cheap center who can contribute on both sides of the floor or an upgrade at point guard. Or both.

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About Anthony Hartmann

Sports fan. Journalism Major. Supermarket supervisor. Excelsior!

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