With the New York Knicks having much success to open the 2012-13 season, a big factor has been their improved chemistry and teamwork.
After a season in which their roster was a major issue, the Knicks made the move to add veteran leadership, and it has paid off in a huge way.
On both offense and defense, it's clear to see that this is a true team out on the court, with communication playing a key role.
Let's take a look at New York's best and worst five-man units so far this season:
On offense, the Knicks have been utilizing the outside shot more than any other team during this opening third of the season. They've simply been shooting the lights out, and as a result one of their best units has been stacked with three-point shooters.
With Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler on the floor, the Knicks have posted a plus-37 plus-minus in just under 100 minutes of action this season.
The unit is the Knicks' best offensive five that has played together for more than 20 minutes this season, scoring 1.25 points per possession.
Having both Felton and Kidd out there ensures the flow of the offense remains intact, as they combine to form one of the best pass-first backcourts in the NBA.
Now that Smith and Melo are buying into ball movement and have improved their shot selection, this lineup gives the Knicks four capable three-point shooters, who are all shooting above their career averages from downtown.
Closing out the lineup with Chandler gives the Knicks a defensive presence, but also someone who can help out on the offensive boards and in the pick-and-roll with the talented scorers around him.
For most of this young season, the Knicks have gone with a starting five of Felton, Kidd, Brewer, Anthony and Chandler, and this unit has clearly had some success.
Together, they form the Knicks' most-used unit with 181.3 minutes logged together to this point.
Whilst they don't lead the Knicks in any category, this five-man set is one of the more well-rounded the Knicks have, with a good mixture of offense and defense. As a result, they've managed a plus-39 plus-minus on the season.
To round out the Knicks' best units is one they don't use too often, but has been deadly in the 14 minutes they've played together this season. Felton, Kidd, Steve Novak, Anthony and Chandler form what has been the Knicks' best offensive unit, scoring 1.73 points per possession.
The added threat of Steve Novak from outside makes this five a nightmare for opposing defenses, with so much offense to worry about. With an effective field-goal percentage of .704, this is definitely a unit the Knicks should look to when the offense slows down a bit.
To go along with their fantastic offensive play, this unit also allows only 0.96 points per possession, leaving it in the top eight of the Knicks' 20 most-used units in terms of defense.
Things haven't been completely perfect so far this season, and there are some units that are notably deficient in some areas.
The prime example of this is the five of Prigioni, Smith, Brewer, Novak and Rasheed Wallace, who together make the Knicks' worst offensive five with 0.77 points per possession.
Whilst they are solid defensively, this unit just can't get it together on offense. It's a unit filled with good secondary scorers, but besides Smith no one who you can really go to on a regular basis.
It's also the Knicks' worst five in terms of turnovers, as it is one of only two units with a negative turnover percentage at negative 5 percent.
On the other side of the ball, the Knicks' worst defensive five has consisted of Prigioni, Smith, Novak, Anthony and Kurt Thomas.
Naturally, taking Chandler out of the lineup is going to lead to some defensive struggles, but 1.39 points allowed per possession is a little too much.
Though Smith, Novak and Melo have all improved their defense tremendously this season, having them all out there together still hasn't been particularly successful on that end of the floor.
Once you take out their main source of protection and insurance on D in Chandler, their defensive faults are more clearly highlighted.
When you substitute Thomas out for Wallace out in that lineup, it suddenly becomes the Knicks' best defensive unit, so that may just be a case of a small sample size giving the wrong idea.
One thing's for sure, though, and that's that any unit without Chandler at center is particularly weak in terms of rebounding.
The majority of units without Chandler average well under 50 percent in rebounding, with no other truly dominant rebounders healthy on the roster. Look for things to change for the better when Marcus Camby and Amar'e Stoudemire return.
Stats used in this article were accurate as of Dec. 19, 2012. Advanced stats are from 82games.com.
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