The electricity of Josh Hart‘s arrival in New York at the trade deadline last season seems to have died down.
Hart is off to a poor start in his first full season with the Knicks, fresh off inking a lucrative $81 million extension over the next four years.
“Just trying to get in a rhythm. I think that’s the biggest thing,” Hart said via New York Post. “I’m a rhythm player. I’m not someone that’s just a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter that really just only does that. That’s not really what I do.
“I’m more someone who can get in the lane and find guys and stuff like that, and I’m capable of making shots. When you don’t have a rhythm like that or you don’t feel included, it’s just sometimes that’s tough not touching it and having to catch and shoot. So, it’s definitely something I’m working on and hopefully [I will] get in a better rhythm.”
The line “you don’t feel included” certainly raises a level of concern for a Knicks team that is in the bottom five in scoring (109.7 points per game), third-last in both field goal percentage (44%) and assists (22.6 per game), per NBA.com after November 27 games.
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Hart’s numbers across the board are all down compared to his on-court production during his first 25 games with the Knicks last season when he provided that jolt of energy that helped them reach the second round.
Through the Knicks’ first 16 games this season, Hart is averaging a career-low 7.1 points despite a slight uptick in his field goal attempts from last season — 6.3 to 6.8 and from 2.1 to 3.1 beyond the arc.
When reporters pressed Hart further about what he meant by his feelings of not getting involved in the offense, he just described the situation as “tough.”
“I think it’s just in the rhythm of the game,” Hart said via New York Post. “Like I said, from myself, I’m an energy guy and a rhythm player. So, for me sometimes it’s tough just to get in that rhythm. So, I won’t — yeah. Sometimes [it’s] tough.”
In Hart’s first 25 games with the Knicks last season, the frequency of a wide-open 3-pointers for him was 21.3% and he hit them at a high rate of 55.9%, per NBA.com’s tracking data.
Wide-open is defined as when a defender is six-plus feet away.
This season, the frequency of wide-open 3-pointers for Hart is down to 31.8% and he’s only cashing in on those opportunities at a low 32.3% clip.
Knicks Should Share the Ball
Perhaps, part of Hart’s shooting struggle can be linked to his adjustment to a new role as Julius Randle‘s backup at power forward. Whatever the case may be, the Knicks should find a way to get more people involved in their offense as their former general manager Scott Perry pointed out.
“First of all, this group has to start sharing the basketball better as I watched that game [November 26 against Phoenix], they did a poor job of that,” Perry said during the November 27 episode of the NBA Today.
The Knicks only had 18 assists during their 116-113 loss to the Suns on Devin Booker’s game-winning 3-pointer. The league average, Perry pointed out is 26 per game.
“They cannot live on a steady diet of one-on-one basketball,” Perry said. “They’re at their best and they are a better shooting basketball team when they share it and share it well so they needed to do that.”