In the past week, Knicks wing Evan Fournier has had a lot to say about the troubles the team has had so far in the early NBA season, especially among the starting five—of which he is a member. New York’s starters have been spectacularly bad this season, while the team’s bench has routinely stepped in to play the part of the savior.
But, it seems that Fournier should probably have a look in the mirror. Individually, his game has fallen apart in the past seven games. In that span, he has averaged 7.4 points on 37.0% shooting and 22.6% 3-point shooting.
That might not be bad if Fournier was just another member of the Knicks rotation. He’s not—Fournier was the team’s prized offseason acquisition, the scoring wing who inked a deal for four years, worth $78 million total. He is now, after star big man Julius Randle, the second-highest paid player on the salary sheet.
And for team president Leon Rose, that’s a potentially very dangerous problem. Fournier is the most significant free-agent move he has made to this point, and it already looks like he could be headed toward bust-hood.
Knicks Starters Have Struggled All Season
In Fournier’s defense, the Knicks starters have struggled all over. The team is getting 67.3 points per game from the starting five, which is 27th in the NBA. Most important, they’re getting just 13.2 assists from that group, which ranks 28th in the league, per NBA.com/stats. That is where Fournier saw a problem, which he spoke up about last week.
“Are we playing not as well because we are missing shots or are we missing shots because we aren’t sharing the ball?” Fournier said. “It’s always that question that you’ve got to ask yourself. In my opinion, it’s because we aren’t getting good shots and we aren’t working the defense well enough.”
Yes, the Knicks’ starters are not doing a great job of moving the ball, and Fournier has a point. He has actually done well this season in spot-up situations, according to NBA.com/stats, making 47.5% of his attempts, including 3-point tries. He averages 1.15 points per possession on spot-ups, which are his bread-and-butter, and that ranks in the 79th percentile. Fournier is struggling because he is not getting those shots enough.
Still, Fournier needs to knock down the shots he is getting. He has not done so lately, after having started the year with a 32-point performance against Boston, the team he played for to close last year after a trade from Orlando. He’s not come close to matching that since, not even topping the 20-point mark. In his last five games combined, Fournier has scored 29 points.
Fournier Has Been Unusable in the Fourth Quarter
Probably the roughest part of all this is that, because he is not much of a defender, Fournier has become all but unusable in the fourth quarter of tight games. In fact, as was pointed out by the Twitter account @Statmuse, Fournier has played five fourth-quarter minutes in the last seven games, and was benched altogether in the fourth in six of those games.
Again, this was the Knicks’ most significant free-agent signing, and one who is on the books for the two seasons after this one, at least (the fourth year of Fournier’s deal comes at a team option). It’s too early to call him a bust. But he is playing poorly enough to cause some serious concerns.