When we were here last week, it seemed as though the Knicks had turned the corner. Welp, nevermind.
The Knicks are back to sucking. They’ve lost their last four games by an astonishing average of 18.5 points. They remain only two games out of the 8th and final playoff spot, but at a ghastly 11 games under .500, any idea of not only making the playoffs, but making any noise once there is a far cry from reality right now. Mike Woodson is still employed as head coach, but you have to think his days are numbered. As for the players? The dominant conversation right now is the long term future of the team’s best and most consistent player (by a nautical mile), Carmelo Anthony. He appears to be fed up and speculation is rising that he’s going to leave this mess behind in search for a championship. Well, if it’s any consolation, Melo, look at where you rank in our latest Player Power Rankings!
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) – Melo’s 20 rebounds on Friday against the Clippers was his highest in a game since Nov. 15, 2010, back in his Nugget days (he had 22). This has been the best rebounding season of Anthony’s career and it’s not particularly close, either. His 9.1 rebounds per game, 21.2 defensive rebound percentage and 13.6 total rebound percentage are all career highs. He’s pulled down 10 or more rebounds in 16 games, he did that just 11 times last season. I’m sure there’s some metric I’m missing that disproves that Carmelo Anthony has actually improved and done something other than scoring well this season, because that’s the way it has to be when you discuss Carmelo Anthony.
NOTE: EVERYONE BELOW THIS MARK HAS, AT SOME POINT, SUCKED REALLY HORRIBLY/BEEN INJURED/BEEN IGNORED BY THE COACH FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME THIS SEASON
2. Tyson Chandler (Last: 4) – The narrative goes “The Knicks are better with Tyson Chandler”. I think many versions of the Knicks COULD be better with Tyson Chandler, but the numbers don’t really bear that out. This season, the Knicks are 5-12 in the 17 games he’s played, thus are 10-14 without him (which isn’t great, of course). Last season, they were 12-4 without him. This is weird, because Tyson Chandler is the Knicks’ second best player, and best defensive player, and among their best leaders. But the Knicks were rolling until he returned this week, and have lost all four games since he returned. This is simply a fact, one that is difficult to explain. Like Nicolas Cage owning more Oscars than Leonardo DiCaprio, some things just cannot be explained.
3. Kenyon Martin (Last: 2) – A big reason the Knicks find themselves in another losing streak is the absence of Martin, who played just seven minutes against Indiana on Thursday and is back on the shelf for the next couple of weeks with a sprained ankle. Last week we gave you a bunch of numbers proving how valuable he is, specifically in terms of hiding guys like Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani on defense. Here’s one that’s a bit simpler: Since December 1, the Knicks are 9-7 when he’s in the lineup. Unfortunately, his issues staying on the court are not shocking in the least.
NOTE: THE LIST FROM HERE ON DOWN MIGHT AS WELL BE CHOSEN AT RANDOM. EACH OF THESE GUYS PROBABLY DESERVES TO BE RANKED 8TH OR BELOW, BUT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT 2013-14 KNICKS
4. Tim Hardaway, Jr (Last: 8) – This ranking is more out of protest in that Hardaway probably deserves more minutes. In most cases, a 15-26 team would start giving it’s first round draft pick a consistent 30 minutes or so a game. But with the East being so terrible, the Knicks not being that far out of a playoff spot, and being coached by a guy who’s fighting for his job, veterans are getting the bulk of the minutes. But when Hardaway does get in, he always seems to provide a spark. He was in double figures twice in the past four games, both games that saw him play over 25 minutes. Despite hitting a bit of a rookie wall, he’s still shooting 39% from deep.
5. Andrea Bargnani (Last: 3) - Andrea Bargnani is 2nd on the Knicks in field goal attempts, 2nd in minutes played, tied for first in games played and tied for second in games started. In other, totally unrelated news, the Knicks are 15-26.
6. Iman Shumpert (Last: 5) – Perhaps the biggest reason the Knicks went on that mini-run a few weeks ago, and why it’s careened of a cliff as of late, is the offensive output and performance of Iman Shumpert. It’s night and day; in the Knicks’ past four games (all losses), Shumpert is averaging 3 points a game. It’s fair to start wondering what it is, if anything, Shumpert does well offensively. He’s proven to be a very streaky but inconsistent outside shooter, and hasn’t developed any sort of penetration ability to his game and has serious handle issues in tight spaces and in the open floor. Through 145 regular season games, he averages 1.4 free throws per night. For somebody as athletic as him, that’s far too low. The Knicks remain better on both ends of the floor when he plays, per 82games.com, but if we’re talking individually, there are serious questions as to what Shumpert’s ceiling truly is And that’s because his offense has often left a lot to be desired.
7. Amar’e Stoudemire (Last: 7) - Unchanged in the rankings despite another injury which will force him to miss about two weeks. Before getting hurt, Amar’e put in two decent performances, with17 and 8 points against Charlotte and Indiana, respectively.
8. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 10) – Moves up in the rankings simply by returning to the lineup, even if his one game back wasn’t much; 19 minutes, 2 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers on Monday vs. Brooklyn. While there was likely some sort of minutes restriction on him on Monday, he still remains criminally underused by Mike Woodson when he’s fully healthy.
9. J.R. Smith (Last: 12) – After being benched, again, on Tuesday vs. the Bobcats, J.R. has actually played alright the past three games. He shot very poorly against Brooklyn (4-of-12), but had made half his shots in the previous two games (15-of-30) against the Clippers and Pacers. He’s hit 6 of his last 13 from deep, which is a good sign. Though, many are of the opinion that him taking this many shots and playing this many minutes is one of the reasons the Knicks are back to losing. That’s not completely misguided.
10. Beno Udrih (Last: 6) – Beno seems back to his early-season role of reserve who may or may not get in a given game. However, he’s been dishing fairly well in his limited minutes, with 9 combined in 29 minutes against Charlotte and Indiana, before paying just 4 minutes total against the Clippers and Nets.
11. Raymond Felton (Last: 11) – Even if Felton had a few okay games earlier in the week (25 total points on 10-of-22 against the Bobcats and Pacers), we couldn’t move him up in the rankings based on his dumpster fire of a performance against Brooklyn. I don’t know what that was.
12. Toure Murry (Last: 9) – With Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton and Beno Udrih all back and healthy, Murry seems the odd man out, despite how poorly those other point guards may play. So is life under Mike Woodson, I guess.
13. Jeremy Tyler (Last: 14) – Tyler got Knicks nation all hot and bothered there for a second against the Clippers, scoring six quick points in a short stint in the 2nd quarter. He’s been on the court the last four games, so maybe there’s a chance that the Knicks will start giving him some more consistent minutes. Shouldn’t they considering the injuries to the front court?
14. Metta World Peace (Last: 13)
15. Cole Aldrich (Last: 15)