Since our last edition of the New York Knicks Player Power Rankings, the ‘Bockers have played three games, where Carmelo Anthony returned to the lineup and has scored a whole bunch of points, leading the Knicks to three wins. That makes the overall winning streak at four, which is a brilliant response to the Western swing where the severely undermanned Knicks lost the first four of five games. It doesn’t really matter that the wins were over losing teams; the Knicks have taken care of business recently. The Knicks have officially clinched a playoff spot and a third winning season in a row. These are things that, not too long ago, were pipe dreams.
With 14 games remaining and Anthony back and seemingly firing on all cylinders, the Knicks are in position to win their division and clinch home court in the first round of the playoffs. It certainly won’t be easy since the Knicks have some tough games on the docket (beginning tonight with a trip to Boston, despite the Celtics being sans-Kevin Garnett). It’s a big ol’ week of Knicks hoops but before we quite get there, let’s do important things like rank the players:
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) – Anthony’s three games since returning from injury prove why he’s the rightful owner of the summit of this exercise. Averaging 28.7 points per game over the last three is fantastic; doing it while shooting nearly 47% from the field is even more encouraging. To have any shot in the playoffs, the Knicks need Anthony to be healthy and to be their best player, like he was this past weekend.
2. J.R. Smith (Last: 2) – Earl Joseph Smith III remains No. 2 in the rankings thanks to three efficient, stat-stuffing performances. Smith shot 22-for-42 over the last three, with 17 rebounds and 8 assists. Not sure what happened out west, but despite the losses, Smith began taking the ball to the rim quite a bit more and he’s become much more efficient since doing so. Let’s hope it continues, because there’s no reason he shouldn’t be a true triple threat with his athleticism and skill set.
3. Raymond Felton (Last: 4) – While he didn’t do much scoring in the past three games, Felton continued to give the Knicks a lot of minutes when needed and most importantly kept protecting the ball. The Knicks are one of the best in the league at taking care of the ball and you have to credit Felton for much of that. His 2.4 turnovers per game is an underrated mark.
4. Tyson Chandler (Last: 3) – Chandler is expected to return to the lineup tonight against Boston. That’s good. The Knicks are 4-2 since he went down. Wait, what?
5. Kenyon Martin (Last: 11) – The fifth spot, held last week by Kurt Thomas, seems to be our spot for Veteran Forward Who Exceeds Expectations and Excites Us By Turning Back the Clock and Hold On What Year Is It? Kmart averaged 16 and 7 in our ranking period (dropping a 19-11 in a close game at Toronto!). If he stays healthy, he’s going to play a huge role for this team in the playoffs.
6. Jason Kidd (Last: 6) – The most memorable number surrounding Kidd last week was his age, turning 40. As I continue to keep a close eye on his minutes, I’m personally quite happy with the 26 per night average over the last five games. Had 5 assists vs. Orlando, 5 rebounds in Toronto and has hit from behind the arc in seven straight games. Good signs all around.
7. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 10) – The Knicks are 4-0 since Mike Woodson decided to start Pablo Prigioni. Is this a coincidence? I don’t know, but I’ll say this: watch out, Miami.
8. Chris Copeland (Last: 8) – Copeland’s minutes naturally diminished a bit when Anthony returned, but he’s still a part of the rotation for now and will rightfully remain there, provided he continues to chip in in some other areas other than scoring, which we all know he can do.
9. Amar’e Stoudemire (Last: 9) – Umm…get well soon, Amar’e?
10. Iman Shumpert (Last: 10) – Shumpert isn’t scoring a lot but that’s fine. He’s not taking too many jumpshots but is making in catch-and-shoot situations, which is vital. Still want to see him be aggressive and drive the lane a bit more, since good things usually happen when Shump does just that. The four steals on Saturday against Toronto were nice to see.
11. Kurt Thomas (Last: 5) – If Kurt Thomas’ last game as a Knick was his inspiring, memorable, tear-jerker of a wonder against Utah, the Knicks should probably just retire his jersey, no?
12. Steve Novak (Last: 13) – Novak’s minutes have gone down, which seemingly everyone has been asking for. He’s also hit 50% of his 3s over the last five games, another thing everyone has been asking for. Oh yeah, this also happened.
13. Marcus Camby (Last: 12) – Did pull down 5 rebounds and use 4 fouls on the road in Toronto in 12 minutes, the exact things you want Camby to do whenever he does see the floor. He can have an impact in the playoffs if he does that, and if Mike Woodson gives him the chance to.
14. James White (Last: 14) – Finally!