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Three reasons for Knicks' recent success

Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

Iman Shumpert has been a huge part of the Knicks' five-game turnaround.

It was not too long ago that Iman Shumpert was at the center of several different trade rumors for the reeling New York Knicks. Now, things in New York are far from perfect, but a three-game win streak (first of the season) and a strong five-game stretch have given Knicks’ fans something to get excited about. And Shumpert has been at the center of the recent turnaround.

So what has led to the Knicks’ recent success?

Iman Shumpert’s turnaround

Over the last five games, the Knicks are outscoring opponents by 58 points with Iman Shumpert on the court and getting outscored by 30 points with him off the court. He has played 169 minutes and sat 71 minutes over that stretch.

Knicks with Iman Shumpert On/Off
Last 5 Games

Shumpert entered the league three seasons ago with a reputation as a strong defender. While his defense has certainly had an impact over this five-game stretch, his offense is what has been most surprising.

Over the last five games, Shumpert has averaged 15.8 points per game, 2.8 assists per game and 1.8 steals per game. All of those would be career highs for Shumpert (APG tied for career high).

His effective field goal percentage (adjusts for value of three-point field goal) is 76.0 percent over the last five games, compared to 42.7 percent before that.

During the Knicks’ win over the Miami Heat Thursday, Shumpert hit three shots from behind the arc in the 3rd quarter.

That is perhaps where he has improved the most over the last five games. Shumpert has attempted 5.6 threes per game and connected on 3.4 per game over the last five games. Through the first 30 of the season, Shumpert was attempting 2.7 3-pointers a game and connecting on just 0.8 per game.

Better defense

Knicks This Season

The Knicks as a whole have picked it up on the defensive end over the last five games. And it has not been because they have faced weak competition. They’ve beaten the Spurs, Heat and Mavericks during that stretch, who are a combined 75-33 this season.

Over the last five games, the Knicks have allowed 92.0 points per game, compared to 99.2 points per game during the first 30 games this season. That improvement comes even though the Knicks are playing at a relatively similar pace – 92.7 possessions per 48 minutes through Dec. 31, compared to 91.1 in the new year.

Getting easier looks

Against the Heat Thursday night, the Knicks finished with 52 points in the paint, breaking a streak of 73 consecutive games in which they scored 50 or fewer paint points.

The Knicks are averaging 6.5 more points per 100 possessions over their 4-1 stretch, and one of the reasons why is that they are getting easier looks. Over the last 5 games, the Knicks have averaged about 4 more paint points per game than they did in the first 30 games of the season.