It has been tough sledding recently for New York Knicks wing Evan Fournier, who was acquired over the summer to play a major role for the team. Over his last four games, the team’s $73 million man has put up just 4.8 points per contest while shooting 30.8% from the field and 21.4% from deep.
Fournier has been so ineffective, in fact, that Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t used him in the fourth quarter since a November 8 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Clearly, that’s not the sort of return on investment that New York was looking for when it brought him over from Beantown. However, people in the Knicks locker room, including former NBA MVP Derrick Rose, are keeping a positive outlook amid Fournier’s early slump.
“We’re not worried about that. Evan, he’s a shooter. He’s a great playmaker. Can put the ball on the floor,” said Rose, via the New York Post. “I think we just gotta put the emphasis on just getting plays that Evan can get an open look, so he can get a groove going.”
An Awkward Pairing?
Rose isn’t the only one exhibiting patience with Fournier. He may have kept the 10th-year pro on ice during crunch time recently, but Thibodeau has indicated that Fournier probably needs more time to gel with his teammates.
Specifically, he referenced star big man Julius Randle’s pairing with Reggie Bullock last season and how that blossomed over time.
“I think after 15 games last season, no one was saying that Julius and Reggie had great chemistry,” Thibodeau said, and he’s not wrong.
Over the first six or so weeks of the 2020-21 campaign, that two-man combination was a net negative for the Knicks. By year’s end, the team was outscoring opponents by 3.2 points per 100 possessions when Randle and Bullock shared the court.
That’s not exactly a mind-blowing number, but it is significantly better than what Randle and Fournier have done in ’21-22. So far, that tandem is minus-6.0 pts./100 poss. during shared minutes. Given that Fournier was essentially brought in to be an upgrade over Bullock, it’s a disappointing early result.
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The Knicks’ Woes Aren’t All on Fournier
At practice on Friday, Fournier characterized his season to date as follows:
“Very inconsistent, obviously,” he said. “Kind of like what we’ve been doing as a team, to be honest. We’ve had really good games. We’ve had bad games. … In  games, you’ve seen my best and worst already.”
He’s correct on all accounts, particularly in relation to some team-wide struggles. For his part, Kemba Walker has largely been MIA during fourth quarters as well. And after storming out of the gate, RJ Barrett is in the midst of a six-game stretch that has seen him average 10.2 points per game on 29.3% shooting overall and 18.2% from deep.
Meanwhile, the Knicks offense ranks just 24th league-wide in both O-rating (104.7) and effective field goal percentage (49.9) and 28th in assist ratio (15.8) for the month of November. Along the way, the team has lost six of its last nine games.