Knicks guard Allonzo Trier shoots over Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson on Oct. 24, 2018, at American Airlines Arena in Miami.


Schmeelk: Allonzo Trier’s Amazing Rookie Season

Averaging 19 PPG Since All-Star Break

John Schmeelk
March 06, 2019 - 1:52 pm

As bad as this season has gone for the Knicks, who hold the worst record in the NBA, there have been a few bright spots along the way as their youngest players continue to get a lot of playing time. We’ve spoken about second-round pick Mitchell Robinson, but undrafted free agent Allonzo Trier is playing the best basketball of his young career since the All-Star Break.

Since the All-Star break, Trier is averaging 19 points per game on .547/.556/.810 shooting to go along with four rebounds, 1.5 assists and a steal in just under 28 minutes per game. His efficiency has been spectacular, scoring 114 points on just 64 field goal attempts. He has 42 free throw attempts during that same six-game stretch.

While this stretch is the best of the season for Trier, spare December, he has actually been very consistent this season. Except for December, which featured seven missed games due to a bad hamstring, Trier hasn’t shot worse than 45% in any other month. He hasn’t shot lower than 36% from behind the arc or (at least until March) under 79% from the free throw line. In four of the six months this year he has he has averaged more than 2.9 points than field goal attempts.

His efficient shooting has nothing to do with any unsustainable numbers either. According to basketball reference, he is shooting on 24% on shots between three and ten feet, 36% on shots between ten and sixteen feet, and 38% between sixteen feet and the three-point line. His shooting percentage is so good because of his 59% FG at the rim and 42% 3PT.

Trier is getting better and better at figuring out the most efficient NBA shot chart. An amazing 40% of his shots are coming at the rim, with 24% coming from behind the three-point line. It’s how a player like Trier can manage a 58% True Shooting Percentage, 44.3% free throw rate, and 51% Effective Field Goal Percentage.

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To give some historical perspective, using Basketball Reference’s sorting tool I brought up every guard and wing’s true shooting percentage in their rookie season. Of players that played 50 games or more, Trier ranks 22nd all-time in true shooting percentage. You can see the full chart here

Of this year’s top perimeter players in the 2019 Draft (Mikal Bridges, Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Collin Sexton and Trae Young), Trier owns the best true shooting percentage of the group, more than 20 percentage points higher than the next best player (Mikal Bridges) and 23 points better than Doncic.

That doesn’t mean Trier is better than all those rookies. He has other issues that need significant improvement. His abysmal 13% assist rate, for example, is second lowest in that group ahead of only Bridges. He’s thrown some recent ally-oops to Mitchell Robinson, but passing is not something he does frequently. In order for Trier to get his points, the offense too often grinds to a halt as he isolates. Trier also struggles defensively.  

But at 23 years old, an older rookie, Trier has made an excellent transition and has exceeded all expectations for an undrafted free agent. His play already forced the Knicks to elevate him off a two-way contract to an NBA deal with the Knicks holding a team option for next year. He is a much better player right now than Kevin Knox, who is only 19 years old and the 9th player taken in the draft. He has a long NBA career in front of him with a real chance to develop into a consistent scorer.

He might never become a starter-caliber player on a good team because of the usage he requires to play his type of game, but the path for him to become a team’s best scoring player off the bench is fairly clear. Lou Williams is the perfect player he can try to emulate.

The Knicks front office, General Manager Scott Perry and Team President Steve Mills, deserves a lot of credit for taking a chance on him as an unrestricted free agent despite his two PED suspensions in college. They found an NBA level player without having to use a draft pick on him, which is hard to do. He could be a part of the future, even if the Knicks land a big fish this offseason.  

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