We’ve decided to revive, dust off and resurrect our Player Power Rankings from the abyss. Every Monday, we’ll rank each player on the Knicks’ roster. Since this is our first incarnation of the season, this ranking will take the entire (mostly awful) season to date so far. And then we’ll go from there.
1. Carmelo Anthony – The one glaring thing that Anthony has struggled with so far has been his shot-making down the stretch. Some of that has to do with forces after clumsy isolations, some has to do with simply missing a good look. Other than that, Melo has been pretty good; after a slow shooting start, he’s back to 44% from the field and a 54% true shooting percentage, which are close to career averages. His PER of 23.9 is nine percentage points behind last season’s, and would rank as the second highest of his career. What Melo’s done at a career-best rate so far is rebound. With Tyson Chandler absent, Melo has grabbed a career-high 14.8% of available total rebounds, which equates to a very solid 8.5 per game. It hasn’t always been pretty and Melo has fallen into some of his ball-stopping habits at some very poor times, but overall the Knicks can’t ask for, and expect, that much more.
Holy cow you guys, who the hell is deserving of the next spot?
2. Kenyon Martin – I mean, sure? There are a handful of guys who you could probably put up here. Nobody has really been all that consistent – which begets that crummy 7-16 record – and we’re not ranking Tyson Chandler yet because he’s only played a few games. So why not K-Mart, even if he’s missed four games of his own? When he’s played, the Knicks have been more efficient on both ends of the floor. When he shares the floor with Melo, the Knicks are allowing just 97.5 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. And of course, despite being undersized he gives the Knicks a much-needed defensive presence at the rim – he’s doled out some hard fouls and is blocking shots at a career-best clip.
3. Pablo Prigioni - He’s only playing about 18 minutes a game, which is a sham. There is plenty of both statistical and eye-test evidence that the Knicks are a better team when Prigioni plays as opposed to when he doesn’t. Unfortunately, he’s been on this earth for 36 years and probably can’t play 35+ minutes a night. But he should be able to, and quite simply should, play more than 18. Things have been trending that way recently with Raymond Felton injured, and let’s hope it continues.
4. Andrea Bargnani - I guess? There’s no doubt that Bargs, until his most recent shooting slump, has been a pleasant surprise for the most part. Defensively he remains a liability; the Knicks allow 107.7 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court and just 100.8 when he’s off, according to NBA.com, but it’s also fair to point out that the Knicks have often asked him to do things he’s not accustomed to. When he shares the floor with Kenyon Martin, someone who can mask his defensive deficiencies, the Knicks allow just 96.9 points per 100. And maybe it’s because teams refuse to believe he’s a good one-on-one post defender and keep going at him, but he has 31 blocks so far this season, which places him in the top 20 in the league. He’s been very streaky shooting the ball from deep, but is hitting over half of his 2-point attempts thus far.
5. Tim Hardaway, Jr – This may seem a tad high, but I’m not sure that it is, given the way the bulk of the Knicks’ back court has played thus far. THJ is 5th on the Knicks in Win Shares per 48 minutes, 4th in PER, and 4th in field goal percentage. I don’t think many people expected Hardaway to be this much of a spark-plug, one of the Knicks’ best 3-point shooters and their best player in transition this early on. A silver lining of the Knicks’ awful season to date is that Hardaway’s gotten playing time, and he’s made a case to get more nearly every time he’s been given a chance. I hope at some point soon in his career he gets some good coaching on the defensive end, because if he can turn into at least a reliable defender, I think he has a chance to stick and be a very valuable asset.
6. Iman Shumpert - Shumpert has not had a good season. Some will tell you the Knicks grossly misuse him, some will say (in relation to the last point) he’s been thrown off by the trade rumors, some will say he’s not as good or consistent as he can be. Everyone is probably a little bit right. He has very favorable on court/off court numbers, but according to 82games.com, he’s been outplayed by his positional opponents pretty badly thus far. Opposing shooting guards are playing at a 48-minute average 16.3 PER against him, small forwards at 21.1, which doesn’t support that he’s a lock down wing defender (because, quite simply, he’s not…not yet).
7. Amar’e Stoudemire – I have a pretty hard time ranking Stoudemire as the seventh-best player on the Knicks right now, mainly because his on court/off court and Net-rtg stats are beyond atrocious. The Knicks score just 94. 1 points per 100 possessions when Stoudemire is on the floor. For some context, the Milwaukee Bucks, the least-efficient offense in the league, score 97.2. When Amar’e is on the court, the Knicks allow 108.4 points per 100, which would rankd 3rd-worst in the NBA (just trailing the Knicks!). But Stoudemire really got off to an awful start, and the more consistently he’s played in the past few weeks the better he has looked. He’s shooting 56% from the field, including over 60% at the rim. I think those on/off numbers will adjust a little more to the mean if he stays healthy and playing like he has the past five games or so.
8. Raymond Felton – In another case where the metrics and eye-test are completely in lock step, Felton’s just about having the worst year of his career thus far. Another guy who’s been hampered by injuries since the outset of the season, Felton is averaging career-lows in scoring, dishing and 3-point shooting. He routinely gets outplayed by the multitudinous much quicker, more athletic point guards throughout the league. He looks 39, not 29. How is he ranked 8th? Jeez.
9. Metta World Peace – So far, Metta has not found his niche on this team, and is now the subject of trade rumors. His stint with the Knicks may only last a few months, as his name is being floated around in the Kyle Lowry talks. He just hasn’t fit so far, and in his limited minutes is shooting a career-worst 39% overall.
10. Beno Udrih - Udrih’s on/off numbers and Net-rtg rival only Stoudemire’s and he’s playing at a career-low PER. This seemed like a very shrewd offseason move and I don’t think it’s beyond repair, but Udrih has not had the impact many believe he could have. Defensively he’s been a disaster; the Knicks allow 110 points per 100 when he’s on the floor, and opposing point guards are playing at a 21.1 PER against him, per 82games.com.
11. J.R. Smith - He has been a complete nightmare since The Elbow. The poor shot selection and shooting, the terrible turnovers, the frustration fouls are all easy to see. But how Smith’s responded to his rough go of things is more alarming. The shooting boycott in Boston was a joke, and sulking on the bench after a victory is something you never want to see. But we know J.R. is an enigma. I think he can snap out of this, but it may get worse before it gets better.
12. Toure Murry - He has barely played any real minutes, which is something that has rankled the fanbase. I guess he hasn’t been as bad as J.R. Smith in his few cameos, but him and the fellow below are not real parts of the rotation, as of now.
13. Cole Aldrich - His offensive rating is 86. JESUS, COLE.
Not ranked - Tyson Chandler, who when he returns from injury will likely vault into the No. 2 position by default.