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Fisher: Knicks' struggling SGs 'pressing'

NEW YORK -- At 4-14, the New York Knicks are tied with three other teams for the second-worst start in franchise history.

The only team to start the season with fewer wins was the 1960-61 outfit. Those Knicks started 3-15 and won just 21 games.

There are plenty of factors behind the Knicks' historically bad beginning to this season.

The latest buzz word around New York's locker room is effort.

Amar'e Stoudemire ripped his teammates on Friday for playing without intensity in their 27-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Carmelo Anthony said on Sunday night that there have been one or two games this season in which "it's like we don't want to be out there, we're not giving effort that we're supposed to be giving."

Those aren't comforting words to a fan base that was hoping for much more from this season.

But effort is only part of the issue.

The Knicks are also struggling to defend the perimeter, fouling too much and relying too heavily on midrange jump shots.

And, in recent games, one more troubling aspect of this nightmare season has emerged: the shooting guard conundrum.

Entering the season, the Knicks believed they had an abundance of talent at the position.

J.R. Smith referred to the triumvirate of himself, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert as a "dynamic trio" and said the Knicks had the best shooting guard depth in the league.

But that "dynamic trio" Smith talked about in September has only been a disappointment of late.

On Sunday night against Miami, Shumpert, Hardaway and Smith combined to shoot 4-for-22.

On Friday against Oklahoma City, the Knicks shooting guards combined to shoot 8-for-32.

So, what's the problem?

"With our struggles, guys I think are pressing," coach Derek Fisher said of his shooting guards. "And I think that's really what it's about. I don't think that we don't have guys capable of shooting the basketball. But I think it's more mental than physical right now."

Shumpert started the season shooting extremely well from the perimeter but has hit just 30 percent of his shots in the past five games. He believes all of the misses of late are taking a toll on the Knicks' shooting guards.

"I think we're just focusing on the negative energy. We've got to get back into a confident state," Shumpert said. "That's just relaxing and shooting the ball. I think guys are just putting too much pressure on themselves to make shots because we're losing."

Whatever the case may be, it's clear that the Knicks aren't getting the production out of shooting guard that they'd hoped for.

Only one of their three shooting guards (Shumpert) is shooting better than 42 percent from the field. And only one (Shumpert) is shooting higher than 34 percent from beyond the arc.

None of the Knicks' shooting guards are producing at an efficient clip, either.

The advanced metric player efficiency rating -- a measure of a player's production on a per-minute production -- reveals a troubling picture.

The league average for player efficiency rating is 15. Shumpert (14.3), Hardaway Jr. (13.1) and Smith (10.5) all fall below that threshold.

That's an issue for which the Knicks -- and Fisher -- desperately need a solution.

"Guys are wanting to win really bad and they're frustrated. So some of that stress is in their shot right now," the coach said after Sunday's loss. "So we have to find a way to help them still be relaxed and confident in who we are."

It's unclear just who the Knicks are at this point in the season. But one thing is certain: They're getting much less from the shooting guard position than they'd hoped for.

Question: Do you think Derek Fisher should change the way he has distributed minutes at shooting guard?

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