This offseason, the Knicks signed Evan Fournier to a 3-year, $54 million dollar deal (with a 2024-25 club option) to add scoring on the wing alongside RJ Barrett and Julius Randle. He electrified Madison Square Garden on opening night, scoring 32 points and taking over the game in overtime as the Knicks won an instant classic over the rival Boston Celtics. Following that game, he struggled to fit in with the Knicks and fans began to turn against him, looking at every possible way to dump off his contract.
Since December 16th, however, Fournier has turned his season around. In those 15 games, he’s averaging 17.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 44.8% from the field and 43.6% from 3. It’s been a streaky season for Fournier, who averaged just 10.2 points in his 17 games from November 10th to December 14th. The biggest difference? In his last 15 games, he has a 4.5 +/- per 100 possessions, while he was -6.8 in the previous 17.
In the 15 game stretch since December 16th, Fournier’s usage rate has increased from 18.0% to 22.7%. He has had the ball in his hands more, as his role has changed from a spot-up shooter to an initiator in the offense. The Knicks are 9-6 in those 15 games, and they’re 12-3 in the 15 games that Fournier has scored at least 18 points. Fournier’s success seems to be key to the Knicks, who have hit their stride as he’s caught fire.
The Knicks have a 109.2 offensive rating since December 16th, and Fournier has a 113.8 ORtg himself. The Knicks have been much better with Fournier on the court, which is a testament to the progress made by the starting lineup which struggled mightily to start the year. Now, with Kemba Walker back, the Knicks have even more offensive firepower on the court. Fournier’s net rating was -8.3 from the start of the season until December 14th. Since then, he is +2.9, over a 10 point difference per 100 possessions.
The Knicks are heading into the toughest stretch of their season and having Evan Fournier at his best will go a long way to helping fight back to the playoffs. The added scoring is a boost, and it was the reason he was brought in this offseason. He has begun to figure out his role on the Knicks, who have used him as more than just a spot-up shooter in recent games. He even had the ball in his hands in crunch time against Minnesota on Tuesday, however, his effectiveness as a late-game creator is inconsistent at best.
Fournier is at his best when he’s a secondary creator and spot-up shooter, and he’s seeing more touches recently. He oftentimes sees a lot of his action early on in the first quarter and often, maybe too often, keeps the Knicks afloat while the rest of the team gets up to pace. If the Knicks are able to turn their season around, Evan Fournier needs to keep up his play and be a big part of the offense.
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