New York Knicks Player Power Rankings: West trip from hell edition

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So last week wasn’t a ton of fun. Thankfully, the New York Knicks found a way to beat the Utah Jazz on Monday, avoiding an empty road trip. Utah is good for some things, after all.

There was a lot of movement in our rankings, what with the injuries and losses piling up, so let’s get to it.

1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) – So Anthony will return from injury tonight against Orlando, and that’s either great or terrible. Whether it’s great or terrible depends solely on how healthy he is. Some players can battle through injuries, but unfortunately Anthony doesn’t seem to be one of them. While some may disagree, I think Healthy Melo is better than No Melo, but No Melo is better than Injured Melo. Injured Melo has proven this season to be a detriment to the team on both ends of the floor. Let’s hope the past few games off have helped him recover to the point where he can be Healthy Melo once again.

2. J.R. Smith (Last: 3) – You won’t find a bigger Tyson Chandler fan than me (well, maybe his family), but I’m gonna put J.R. at No. 2 for a few reasons, one being in protest to Mike Breen. Breeny, I love you dog, but my goodness what did J.R. Smith ever do to you? We get it. We watch every Knick game too. The dude makes some stupid plays sometimes. His shot selection is atrocious at times. He may lead the league in the unofficial advanced stat of “Mental Lapses Per 100 Possessions”.

But am I the only one who notices Breen OPENLY ROOTING for Smith to miss so he can chastise him for chucking up a bad shot? Whenever Smith shoots with an opponent remotely near him, you can hear Breen’s voice get ready to blurt out “NOT A GOOD SHOT, CLYDE!” And even if Smith makes a contested jumper, which he’s wont to do quite a bit, you can hear the disappointment as Breen says “A little outta control there, but it went in.” Watch Chris Copeland do the same thing, and you’d think Breen was Cope’s father.

Now that that’s out of the way, Smith did do an okay job during the past few games for the undermanned Knicks, in particular scoring 33 points in Portland and 20 in the win over Utah. Smith has started going to the basket more, which everyone in the world has been asking for. He’s shot 29 free throws in the past three games.

3. Tyson Chandler (Last: 2) – Chandler got hurt in the disaster in Denver, however, he actually wasn’t very good the night before in Golden State – anyone else remember when he got beaten off the dribble from the three point line by Andrew Bogut? That was gross. Still, the Knicks need Chandler badly, but he’ll be out another week with something going on in his neck that nobody knew about.

4. Raymond Felton (Last: 5) – Felton has battled well the past few games, and was instrumental in the Knicks’ streak-snapping win in Utah, hitting some pretty floaters and tear drops and adding some perimeter shooting as well. With the Knicks shorthanded, Felton has logged 83 minutes in the past two games. Kudos.

5. Kurt Thomas (Last: 12) – Because if anybody deserves the biggest jump in the history of the Turn On The Knicks Player Power Rankings, it’s Kurt Thomas. As of Monday afternoon, Thomas was possibly done for the year. A bone spur in his foot didn’t stop him though, as he suited up against Utah and played a season-high 27 minutes. He played great defense on Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors. He blocked three shots. He taunted fans. He held up his follow-through as he went back down the court on defense after making an 18-footer. It was inspirational.

uspw_6780314_crop_exact6. Jason Kidd (Last: 6) – Kidd stays put in the rankings. He’s kind of back in a shooting slump, but still brings tons to the table defensively. It was good to see Kidd have a few nights where he didn’t play a ton (9 minutes against Denver, 19 against Golden State). Kidd needs some nights where he spends most of his time on the pine, because the Knicks are going to need his absolute best come playoff time.

7. Amare Stoudemire (Last: 3) – We’ll keep throwing him somewhere in the rankings until the playoffs start, when he may come back. The Knicks sure could have used a healthy STAT last week out west.

8. Chris Copeland (Last: 13) – Cope was the beneficiary of Melo’s injury, getting to start and play a lot of minutes on the west trip. His best performance was against Utah, and we’re not looking at the 14 points in 31 minutes – it was the six rebounds (many of them contested, in traffic) and ever-so-slightly improved defense that caught our attention. He still is a tremendous black hole on the offensive end, but when Anthony’s not in the lineup he’s proved he can help chip in some much-needed offense.

9. Iman Shumpert (Last: 7) – Shump scored 20 points in the blowout to Denver, hitting 4-of-5 from downtown. His perimeter shooting has been very streaky, but he’s shown the ability to knock down 3s, which is crucial to his development as a complete player. His 38% clip is a good sign. However, Mike Woodson doesn’t seem to trust Shumpert much, especially down the stretches of games which is a bit odd since the Knicks can use all the defensive help they can get. He’s still learning and getting healthy, but the Knicks are a better defensive side with him on the floor.

10. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 9) – Mike Woodson’s latest game of Pin the Tail on the Starters led to Prigs’ first career NBA start against Utah. The Argentine whipped us back in time to preseason, running effective pick and rolls with Chris Copeland, finishing with 3 assists in 20 minutes.

11. Kenyon Martin (Last: 11) – There’s no real reason Kmart should have went down in our rankings, but this is an inexact science, indeed. Martin earned a contract for the rest of the season and rightfully so. He’s given the Knicks some needed interior defense and grit, and he remains a solid rebounder and pick-and-roll finisher. He’s hauled down 18 boards in the last two games combined. That jumpshot, though. Woof.

12. Marcus Camby (Last: 14) – He must not be fully healthy yet, that or Mike Woodson just isn’t a fan. You never know on a given night if Camby is even going to see the floor. Against Portland, one of his 239 former teams, Camby was active on both ends, finishing with 8 points and 10 boards in just 19 minutes. Played only 7 minutes against Utah in a game the Knicks could have used some rebounding help in.

13. Steve Novak (Last: 8) – Has to, HAS TO hit 3s or else he’s just about useless. Hasn’t hit from behind the arc in four of the last 5 games. That’s not gonna cut it, at all.

14. James White (Last: 11) – The experiment seems to be over. Sorry, James.

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