The Knicks went 1-2 since our last rankings, meaning not much of anything has changed in the grand scheme of this listless slog of a season. New York’s lone win last week was one with much comedy and came with plenty of mocking, as the ‘Bockers needed two overtimes to defeat the D-Leagueesque Milwaukee Bucks. The win was sandwiched by a terrible last-second eff up loss to the Washington Wizards, and a predictably sleepy, one-sided, early-afternoon defeat at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) - Anthony shot a ghastly 9-of-29 in the Knicks’ victory over the Bucks, but he did play pretty decent down the stretch and hit the 3-pointer that eventually sealed things. Despite the losses to Washington and Memphis, he made over 50% of his field goals in those contests. Most people pinned the mess at the end against Washington on coach Mike Woodson for not calling a timeout, so despite looking a bit out of sorts himself and chucking a terrible last second attempt, Melo escaped scrutiny for the most part.
2. Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Last: 5) - A huge leap for Junior since our last ranking, but why not? With so many injuries and Tyson Chandler just re-joining the rotation and rounding back into shape, who else deserves this spot? He shot 57% in the Knicks’ three games last week. According to NBA.com, nearly 80% of Hardaway’s field goal attempts come either at the rim or from 3-point range, which explains why he leads the team’s guards and small forwards by shooting nearly 48% from the field. The guy consistently gets high percentage looks.
3. Tyson Chandler (Last: Unranked – Injury) – As we said last week, once Tyson returned he’d likely vault near the top by default, and that’s what’s happened here. But he’s clearly still a bit rusty and working his way back into shape. He had just six rebounds on Saturday against Memphis in a game the Knicks got totally mutilated on the boards. In his return game against Milwaukee, he looked more like the usual Tyson Chandler, with 9 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. Over the long run, the Knicks will be very grateful to have him back.
4. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 3) – Hasn’t played since our last ranking due to suffering a broken toe. But most of the gents below haven’t exactly lit it up in his absence, or are hurt as well, so he doesn’t get knocked very far down as of now.
5. Kenyon Martin (Last: 2) – Also injured and hasn’t played since our last ranking. When he’s back, he should be able to play fewer minutes since Chandler is back.
6. Beno Udrih (Last: 10) – Everyone else is hurt, basically, so Beno jumps a bit in the rankings due to the fact that he’s a functioning professional athlete. More minutes have been good for him, individually. He had one of his best games of the season on Wednesday in Milwaukee, dropping 21 points and hitting five 3s, including two big ones down the stretch. Like many of the Knicks, he continues to be a problem on the defensive end. Bradley Beal can attest.
7. Andrea Bargnani (Last: 4) – On Wednesday Bargs did the Bargsiest thing that ever Bargsed. And even outside of the low-level high school basketball IQ 3-point attempt against the Bucks, Bargnani has been in a shooting slump as of late. He’s just 10 of his last 33 overall from the field. He plays too many minutes, and the Knicks continue to be better on both ends of the floor when he’s on the bench. Woodson irresponsibly started him on Saturday alongside Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony. In my opinion, Bargnani should be relegated to the bench as long as Tyson Chandler is in the lineup.
8. Iman Shumpert (Last: 6) – Shumpert’s in his first real funk as a pro, and it’s a really bad one – a valley that a lot of really good players never even come close to approaching. Some have placed the blame on the Knicks for “ruining” him or his confidence. It’s possible they have, but I don’t know for sure because I’m not in his head, and I’m not with the Knicks at practice or on the road. I can judge what I see, and what I see is a guy who, sure, doesn’t get the ball a ton, but doesn’t also doesn’t make much use of his touches. He’s shooting 28% in December and has a team-low 9.1 PER.
9. Amar’e Stoudemire (Last: 7) – We were told he was injured, but he really wasn’t, because Knicks. He didn’t play against the Bucks, but didn’t produce much in the 36 minutes combined he got against Washington and Memphis. Is it a coincidence that he didn’t play in the only game the Knicks won of their three last week? Maybe. Maybe not.
10. Metta World Peace (Last: 9) – Metta has been in and out of the lineup with injuries, and remains to be sort of on the outside looking in as he has all season. He put together a nice little 12 minutes against Milwaukee, scoring 8 points and getting 4 steals. He’s one of the few tradeable guys on the team, if he can ever get and stay healthy.
11. J.R. Smith (Last: 11) – J.R.’s possible large-scale performance art of a season continued this past week, highlighted by Wednesday’s chucking of 17 3-pointers. Shot selection be damned, J.R. averaged 17.6 points in the three games last week, so at least SOME of his shots are going in. Some. Progress! Sunday, in actuality, may have been J.R.’s best game of the season, with 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals to go along with a 6-of-12 shooting day. Maybe, just maybe he’s turning a corner. We’ll see if he turns the right way.
12. Toure Murry (Last: 12) – Finally got his chance in some real minutes on Wednesday in Milwaukee. In his two games so far, he’s shown his defensive aggressiveness, which is a much-needed addition to the current team. He’s foul prone so far, but it’s still early days. One thing that seems pretty clear is that, offensively, he’s not really a point guard. But who needs them, anyway?
13. Raymond Felton (Last: 8) – Has not played since December 10, but should be back sometime this week. The Knicks can use a healthy, effective Ray Felton, the one they got for most of last season. But will we see it?
14. Cole Aldrich (Last: 13) – Has not played since our last ranking. Continues to lead the Knicks in rebounds per 36 minutes with 19.5, folks.
15. Chris Smith (Last: Unranked – D-League) – Chris Smith was in uniform this week. That happened.