So Carmelo Anthony goes down and the New York Knicks complete a huge comeback and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, outlast the Detroit Pistons in a roller coaster battle and take the Oklahoma City Thunder to the buzzer. Then Amar’e Stoudemire’s knee explodes again and the Knicks – still sans Anthony – beat the Utah Jazz by nearly 30 points. At last check, the Utah Jazz do indeed play in the National Basketball Association, the world’s best basketball league. Suffice it to say that’s a pretty solid job by the rest of the Knicks.
We don’t know how long Anthony will be out. Alan Hahn reported earlier Monday that ‘Melo did make the trip to California for Monday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, but we’ll find out at shootaround time whether or not Anthony will go . There’s just no way of telling with the Knicks’ because they hide the truth about injuries as though they’re holding the keys to a warehouse holding all of our nuclear missiles. Or something like that.
(UPDATE: Melo says he’s giving it a go. YAYAYAYAY)
Before we endure the awesomeness that is Raymond Felton chasing Stephen Curry around, let’s rank those Knickerbockers:
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) – Melo hasn’t played since our last rankings, and if he doesn’t hit the court soon there’s a chance he’ll lose his spot at the summit. But still, Anthony’s done too much this season for this team and will remain here for now. The Knicks are on a bit of a nice streak without him, however I don’t think too many people would like the Knicks’ chances in a seven game playoff series against Boston, or Brooklyn without him – let alone Indiana, Chicago or yeah, Miami.
2. Tyson Chandler (Last: 2) – He hasn’t scored in double digits in the last four games, but also got some much-needed rest by playing just 25 minutes in the Knicks’ blowout over the Jazz. As usual though it’s not in the numbers that Chandler show his value. The Knicks have won games without Melo and without Amare (and now without both). I shudder to think what would happen if Chandler ever went down. Peeople would automatically say “their defense would suck”, however, it’s probably the offense that would suffer immensely – New York scores 114.7 points-per-100 possessions with Tyson on the court, and just 105.8 without him.
3. J.R. Smith (Last: 4) – Another week that summed up J.R. pretty well. Against the Pistons he spent most of the game trying to obliterate the concept of “shot selection”, but buried the Pistons by making his last four 3s late in the game. He then turned it a brilliant scoring effort against the Thunder, but faltered down the stretch and chose his favored pull-up with the game on the line, clanking it with Russell Westbrook challenging well. He then had an efficient 24-6 rebound-3 assist gem in the blowout over the Jazz. Three straight with over 20 points since ‘Melo left, all off the bench.
4. Amar’e Stoudemire (Last: 3) – The injury came at a crappy time because A) Carmelo Anthony is hurt and B) Stoudemire was really playing well. You can make a case he had really reinvented his game before this second injury. The percentage of shots Amar’e was taking and making near the rim were astounding, and that’s exactly what was needed when he was sharing the court with Anthony and Chandler. Just a tough year for Amar’e so far, and now you have to really wonder if he’ll ever be truly healthy again.
5. Raymond Felton (Last: 6) – I’m really hammering home the “when Raymoond Felton plays well, the Knicks win” thing because, I don’t know, it’s true? Felton decided to go bonkers and hit a bunch of 3-pointers against the Pistons, pouring in 26 points. Had 16 points against OKC and 15 in just 20 minutes versus the Jazz on an efficient 6-of-10, and was a plus-34. I hate using some stupid term like “X Factor” because it makes me sound like I’m on some horrific ESPN debate show, but it kind of makes a ton of sense in the Raymond Felton/Knicks case.
6. Jason Kidd (Last: 5) – Oh how beautiful it was when Jason Kidd started raining 3s again, except that sort of stopped. In the last three games, Kidd is 2-for-13 from long range. It’s nice when Kidd knocks down perimeter shots because 3-pointers are fun and easily noticeable, but Kidd continues to bring intelligence on both ends. He seems to deflect as many passes as he completes these days.
7. Iman Shumpert (Last: 7) – Shump sandwiched a horrendous 1-for-7 shooting night in betweena two fine ones (scoring nine, all early against Detroit and 10 against the Jazz). The 4 steals against Utah is a number that jumps out that people like to see, and Shumpert also had six rebounds against Utah and 5 against Detroit. Still in the early stages of returning from an injury that has kept Derrick Rose out months (plural) more than himself, Shumpert is still finding his way offensively. The team is nearly 11 points better per 100 possessions without him on the floor. That has to change soon, because he’s too valuable defensively to not have on the floor. He can help that himself by knocking down kick outs and shots off offensive rebounds.
8. Steve Novak (Last: 8) – Well, Novak had two forgettable games to start the week, but ended it with a bang, as he’s wont to do against poor teams (5-for-10 for 3, 20 points against the Jazz). Novak’s the type of guy people like to get on when things aren’t going well and love when his shots are falling. Personally, I just feel that Novak deserves to get some run every night because A) if he gets hot he can change a game (although we’d love for this to happen more often) and B), he’s not AS terrible defensively as most make him out to be. That’s not to say that’s he’s a good defender, but the team’s defensive numbers are the same when he’s on the court and when he’s off (107.4 rating).
9. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 9) – Prigs didn’t get any run against the Thunder but poured in a nice 7-5-5 line against the Jazz. Not really sure why he didn’t play against OKC; did anyone ask Woody? No? Because that’s what I was thinking about after that riveting game (not really).
10. Kenyon Martin (Last: 13) – Solid jump for Kenyon in the rankings, who showed in the past two games what makes him a capable front court depth option for the Knicks. I love love loved his hard, clean foul on Kevin Durant against the Thunder (something he’ll help bring back to the team since the departure of Rasheed Wallace), and the fact that he used all six of his fouls in his 17 minutes. Had 10 and 6 against the Jazz as well.
11. James White (Last: 11) – White hilariously hit two early threes against the Thunder. We called last week to end the White starting experiment, but Mike Woodson has remained steadfast. Made a three against Utah as well, so that’s two games in a row now with a three. Woohoo!
12. Kurt Thomas (Last: 14) – Thomas started against the Thunder and all three games since our last ranking and played a total of 18 minutes (OFFENSIVE OUTBURST OF 6 POINTS). I’ve never quite seen an NBA team use its starting lineup this way, but its kind of fun no?
13. Chris Copeland (Last: 10) – Cope finally got off the deactivated list or whatever and had 12 points in seven garbage time minutes against the Jazz. Cope has a way of putting up huge numbers in blowouts, which sort of makes him the 2013 version of Rick Brunson.
14. Marcus Camby (Last: 12) – It’s good to see Camby log 14 minutes in a game, as he did against Utah. You knew he wouldn’t play in a back-to-back, but it’s kind of curious why Woodson decided to use him against Detroit and not OKC. Hopefully though, Camby can get to a place where he can log about 10 minutes a night, which could still have a very positive affect on this team’s defense and rebounding.