So the Super Bowl has come and gone through town, and the main connection between the Knicks and the big game is more proof that you never, ever, under any circumstances, wear the orange jerseys. Once the Broncos decided to don theirs, you knew they were cooked.
In Knicksland, things are going…okay. Unfortunately, the Heat came to town and halted the Knicks’ 4-game winning streak on Saturday night, but the Knicks were back to playing some pretty good ball beforehand, blowing out the Celtics and Cavaliers earlier in the week.
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) – His stellar year continues, despite a rough performance against the Heat. One recent positive to add to the pile is that Melo’s getting to the line pretty consistently recently. That hasn’t always been the case, and it’s another offshoot of his return to primarily playing the 4. He didn’t have to do too much against Boston and Cleveland, but was pretty scorching early in both games, helping the Knicks to gargantuan leads. He has 14 assists in the past four games, as well.
2. Tyson Chandler (Last: 2) – Tyson keeps the top competitive spot in the rankings (I don’t think anyone is coming close to catching Melo any time soon) based on what looks like his game being at or near the best it’s been as a Knick. I think he’s finally healthy and it shows; his total rebounds per game are approaching 9 as he’s been in double digits in 3 of the past 4 games. And after a strange 11 field goal attempts last Sunday against the Lakers, he got back to uber-efficiency in the FG% department, thanks to a reinvigorated pick-and-roll relationship with Raymond Felton.
3. Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Last: 3) – While it came mostly in a blowout, we finally have our Tim Hardaway Jr Game of 2013-14. Against Cleveland, the rook lit it up, dropping 29 points on 11-of-17 from the field. He’s been in the teens in scoring in each of the past four games. For a guy that takes only about 28% of his shots in and around the pain area, his 47% from the field is pretty darn excellent. Shooting 41.7% from 3-point range helps.
4. J.R. Smith (Last: 7) – J.R.’s ascent up the rankings continues. Immaturity aside, perhaps it’s fair that J.R. just wasn’t 100% healthy early in the year as he recovered from off-season knee surgery. Those things take some time, and he’s put his game back together nicely over the past month or so. In the past 5 games, J.R. is making 50% of his shots and is shooting 56% from deep. And, like Melo, he’s getting to the line a lot more frequently. Funny how that helps the Knicks win some games, no?
5. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 8) – So the Knicks re-insert Pablo into the starting lineup alongside Raymond Felton and the Knicks start winning some games and blowing out inferior competition? That’s odd! Prigioni proved on Thursday against the Cavs how he can affect a game without taking a single shot: In 22 minutes he had 4 assists, 3 rebounds and was a +15. And the Knicks has 21 assists on 43 field goals that night, a clear result of Prigioni’s ball-moving influence on offense.
6. Kenyon Martin (Last: 4) – Martin has returned from his injury, only logging 24 minutes in two appearances since coming back. We’ll see how things play out with the big man rotation as Mike Woodson gets his horses back, but Martin should continue to get time as long as he’s available. And the Knicks have been much better, especially defensively, with him on the floor this season.
7. Iman Shumpert (Last: 5) – A bit of a drop in the rankings for Shumpert, who only logged 8 minutes on Tuesday against the Celtics before hurting his shoulder.
8. Andrea Bargnani (Last: 6) – Bargs dropped one spot last week, and now two this week. The Knicks have looked much better, resembling last year’s 54-win team quite a bit since he went down. That’s probably because of some poor misuse by Mike Woodson, as well as his being a poor fit with the team’s best player.
9. Raymond Felton (Last: 10) – Felton was so poor for such a long stretch earlier in the year, so despite his better play of late he still finds himself closer to the basement. But, shockingly to perhaps Mike Woodson and Mike Woodson only, his reunion with Pablo Prigioni has helped immensely. Felton had 17 assists in the two blowout wins over the Celtics and Cavs, and he’s shooting 52.3% in the past five games. Things are trending upward, ever so slightly, for Felton.
10. Amar’e Stoudemire (Last: 9) – Stat played just 4 minutes against the Heat, his first appearance since Jan 16 against Indiana. With him and Kenyon Martin back, Woodson has said that Jeremy Tyler will likely revert back to the bench and not get regular minutes. Were not sure how we feel about that one.
11. Jeremy Tyler (Last: 12) – That’s because Tyler’s been pretty impressive in his limited minutes. He’s shown a very nice shooting touch and some shifty moves around the rim. His often-too-active hands on defense have resulted in silly fouls, but it’s nice to see a Knick try more on defense than they may have to. That’s a rare occurrence. Tyler has produced when he’s played – in the 3 games this year that he’s gotten more than 20 minutes of action, he’s averaging 11 points and 5.3 rebounds.
12. Beno Udrih (Last: 11) – I don’t think we’re going to be seeing much of Beno the rest of the way. A candidate to be moved, even if the Knicks won’t get much of anything in return. He could probably still help a contender, strangely enough.
13. Metta World Peace (Last: 15) – It was nice to see Metta get some actual minutes against Cleveland (5 points, 6 rebounds in 19 minutes) after making a second half cameo against the Celtics. But then got just 1 minute in a meaningful game against Miami. Is he really shot, or is this another example of Woodson mismanaging his personnel? Hard to tell, but this offseason it sure felt like Metta had more to offer than this.
14. Toure Murry (Last: 13) – As expected, Murry hasn’t really gotten any meaningful minutes since the Knicks’ backcourt (mainly Felton and Prigioni) got back healthy.
15. Cole Aldrich (Last: 14) – Fun Fact: Cole Aldrich is the first Knick to wear jersey #45 since Jackie Butler in 2006.