New York Knicks‘ Jarrett Jack defied expectations and became one of the most critical players on the team. Who saw that coming?
When Jarrett Jack signed with the New York Knicks back in September, it seemed more likely he would be cut before the regular season began than become a part of the rotation. Now he’s the starting point guard and one of the most impactful players on the team. Even the staunchest of Jack supporters could not have foreseen this.
Injuries kept the veteran out of action for nearly the entire 2016-17 season. Nobody was anxious to get him in free agency. Even the point guard-deprived Knicks remained non-committal; signing him to a non-guaranteed contract.
Ramon Sessions was the projected starter at point guard, and Jack was supposed to be cut when Joakim Noah returned from injury. But things change. Sessions has been limited to garbage time since Jack was inserted into the starting lineup and the scarcely used Mindaugas Kuzminskas bit the bullet upon Noah’s return.
Jack is currently averaging 6.1 assists per game. New York hasn’t had a point guard average 6 assists per game in a season since Jeremy Lin in 2011-12. Jarrett Jack is the most important Knicks point guard since Linsanity.
Relax Derrick Rose stans; I said most important not most talented. Jack means more to this team than Rose ever did to last year’s squad. Now let’s take a look at just how much this guy means to the Knicks.
When he’s on the court, New York is scoring 109.1 points per 100 possessions (via NBA.com). That offensive rating would put them fifth just behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not bad for a team that was supposed to be tanking.
That’s right; the metrics back him up. New York’s starting lineup during the forgettable Ramon Sessions era (three games) was outscored by 19.1 points per 100 possessions. They were one of the worst five-man units in the Association.
Since Jack’s entered the fray, that’s all changed. The Knicks are outscoring opponents by 5.2 points per 100 possessions and putting up elite numbers on offense. It’s the defense that’s the problem. Jack is part of the problem there but he’s doing so much to make up for that.
The most important part of Jack’s game is the rapport he’s developed with his teammates. The passing metrics and a few more lineup examples back up this assertion. Jack is the ultimate teammate.
Jack and his backcourt mate Tim Hardaway Jr. are excellent on the court at the same time; scoring 111.1 points per 100 possessions and outscoring opponents by 3.4 points per 100 possessions (via NBA.com). Kristaps Porzingis too of course.
Let’s dig deeper into some of the passing because Jack has been phenomenal in such a short period. Frank Ntilikina is getting all the pub — and he’s been great — but Jack is making his teammates looking good every night.
Jack is spreading the wealth around with his passing/assist totals. Per NBA.com, he’s made over 140 passes to each of the other four Knicks starters. He also has double-digit assists on makes from each starter. Porzingis — of course — is in the lead with 31.
The 34-year-old has an assist percentage (30.7) that’s dramatically higher than any other rotation player. He’s 17th in the NBA; just behind Kemba Walker. The last time a Knick finished a season with an assist percentage over 30 was Raymond Felton in 2010-11.
Jack’s assist to turnover ratio is top-ten in the league. He averages less than two turnovers a night. Jack already has 103 assists, and he’s turned it over just 29 times. It’s an incredible feat when turnovers are considered such a run of the mill occurrence.
Regardless of how the rest of the season turns out, Jack is doing something that can rarely be said of any Knicks point guard — he’s making an impact.