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Comparing NBA and New York Knicks plus minus during 2021-22 season

Knicks plus minus leader IQ

One of the more basic NBA advanced statistics, is the plus minus (+/-) stat. It aims to help determine if a player, when they are on the court, helps their team win. With this in mind, we wanted to review the New York Knicks plus minus from the 2021-22 season, and see how it compared with the rest of the NBA.

The metric has its flaws, which we will discuss, but it is simple to understand and can be a valuable metric amongst the leagues top talent.

In this post, we will assess how the Knicks plus minus and provide some insights from last season. We hope to determine, which players and lineups, when on the floor, contributed to the Knicks success. The plus minus metric can help us do that.

Now, let’s jump in with a quick primer on basketball plus minus, before we share the numbers.

What is plus minus in basketball?

The plus minus statistic tracks a teams point differential when a player is on the floor, compared to when they are not. Commonly referred to as the on/off metric, it determines how many points the team scored more or less than their opponent when they were on the floor vs the bench.

Whilst it can be used to assess players individual performance, it is better served as a team lineup metric. Something we have done at length here at Knicks Central. With that said, we will still consider the metric at the individual player level.

Since the metric considers the overall team score, it stands to reason, that a player with consistent minutes and a high plus minus must be contributing to success in some capacity.

Basketball plus minus flaws

Basketball plus minus has its flaws. It is purely based on the box score and does not account for activity or playing time. It is also heavily influenced by the players you play with and play against.

At the individual player level, it can be erratic. On a night to night basis, the statistic has significant volatility and in most cases is determined by the overall team performance.

Now, this does not mean that the statistic is not valuable, but these are important considerations to be aware of.

Knicks team plus minus analysis

Which Knicks players had the best plus minus last season?

The highest Knicks plus minus was from Immanuel Quickley, at +264 for the 2021-22 season per StatMuse. He played 23.1 minutes per game and was a major piece for the Knicks off the bench. In addition, he was a member of the top 4 Knicks lineups from last season, including the most productive in terms of plus minus.

Following Quickley, the next closest Knicks plus minus was Obi Toppin with +165, and Alec Burks with +123.

More than anything, this begins to speak more to the quality of the bench play and depth of this Knicks team. All top Knicks plus minus leaders, are members of the second unit. They were able to consistently outplay their opponent over the course of the regular season.

Which players ranked worst in Knicks plus minus?

As you might have already guessed, the starting unit was not nearly competitive enough for the Knicks last season. The Knicks starting lineup was consistently outplayed, and when they are on the floor most of the time, you’re not going to win many games.

The worst Knicks plus minus score was Julius Randle at -164, followed by RJ Barrett at -146 and Evan Fournier at -93. Numbers that confirm the struggles of the Knicks starting unit last season.

Comparing the Knicks plus minus to the league

Which NBA player had the highest plus minus?

In the NBA last season, Jayson Tatum had the highest plus minus of anyone in the league, at +667. He was followed by Mikal Bridges at +576, and Steph Curry at +507.

Tatum and the Boston Celtics had an incredible year, alongside his teammates Jaylen Brown (+453) and Marcus Smart (+443). As did the Mikal Bridges, alongside Devin Booker (+469) and Chris Paul (+460). It proves how basketball plus minus goes hand in hand with team performance.

One incredible note here is that Stephen Curry was the only Golden State Warrior in the top 20, showing his value to that organization in leading them to a championship.

No Knicks players appeared in the top 25. The team did not perform consistently well enough for have an opportunity to be considered. It highlights the lack of star talent this Knicks team has right now. The team is making strides, but they will need to improve drastically in order to compete with the top teams in the NBA.


What can we takeaway from the plus minus analysis? We pretty much confirmed our suspicions. The Knicks starting unit must make a drastic improvement. They were the bottleneck to the teams success last season. The acquisition of Jalen Brunson and the development of Barrett will hopefully help this unit take a step forward.

A positive takeaway from all this was that the bench unit consistently outperformed their opponent. This Knicks team is deep and only getting deeper with the signing of Isaiah Hartenstein and the progression of Quentin Grimes.

It is important to remember that there is a lot of avenues for this team to improve. The front office decisions to this point have provided the Knicks with flexibility to trade, develop talent or sign players in free agency.

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