For those of you who aren’t in the New York area, it’s still freezing cold here. I’m not one to complain about the weather; when you live in the northeast, you’re meant to experience very cold winters and very hot summers. All good. But we shouldn’t be watching the Sweet 16 in the freezing cold. Enough’s enough. Can’t we just watch the Knicks limp to the finish line while frequenting a bar with some outdoor seating, sipping on a crisp Belgian-style wheat ale, perhaps with a slice of citrusy fruit in it? Please.
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) – Carmelo has been quite bad in the fourth quarter this season, and his latest poor closing performance on Sunday against Cleveland came at a really bad time (though the Knicks blowing a 17-point lead is certainly not his fault). But, it’s been a problem for a good while now. This season, Anthony is shooting just 37.4% in fourth quarters, which is far lower than his shooting percentages in the first three quarters (1st – 48.6%, 2nd – 49.5%, 3rd – 45.1%). It’s impossible to know for sure whether Anthony playing so many minutes has led to his late-game struggles, but it certainly stands to reason.
2. Tyson Chandler (Last: 3) – It pains me a bit to move Chandler up after his performance on Sunday, which was severely lacking (his pick and roll defense was really poor down the stretch). But he put in two good efforts earlier in the week, especially against Indiana where he hauled down 14 rebounds and helped neutralize the rebounding of Roy Hibbert, who had just 3 of his own.
3. Amar’e Stoudemire (Last: 6) – A deserved bump in the rankings for Amar’e, and his high water mark of the year thus far. It’s pretty amazing that Stoudemire is playing to an 18.69 PER in 2013-14, which has actually (as expected) gone down in recent weeks due to his increase in playing time. But he remains efficient from the field – shooting 59% in his last 10 games.
4. J.R. Smith (Last: 2) – J.R. had a rough week shooting the ball, going just 12-for-34 overall in the past three games, including 5-of-19 from deep. And the all-important J.R. Smith Free Throw Attempt Meter has been broken recently – he didn’t get to the line against Indiana or Philadelphia, and went just twice against Cleveland. As usual, Smith needs to supplement his often erratic jumpshooting by being more aggressive going to the lane. However, we’ve all been saying this for a long, long time,
5. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 5) – Dude pulled a Pepe Sanchez and tossed out 9 assists with 4 rebounds against Philadelphia in 18 minutes, all the while attempting a solitary field goal. He missed it. You suck, Pablo.
6. Iman Shumpert (Last: 7) – Shumpert combined with Anthony to do a good enough job on Paul George, who shot just 4-of-17 (although he missed plenty of shots he could have, and perhaps should have, made). And against Philadelphia, the Knicks needed all of Shumpert’s 11 points to beat a team that is on a historic losing streak. But in general, how much of a better position might the Knicks be in if Shumpert averaged 11 points a game?
7. Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Last: 4) – Timmy’s rookie season has shown us that he can score at this level and that the Knicks did pretty darn well with the 24th pick in what many predicted would be one of the weakest drafts of all time. What he needs to do this offseason is start broadening his game, because right now he doesn’t help the Knicks in any other fashion when he’s not scoring. He’s made just one of his last 13 3-point attempts, and in the last two games has just 3 rebounds and 2 assists in a total of 54 minutes. The good thing is that he’s just 22 years old, so let’s not peg him as a totally one-dimensional player just yet.
8. Raymond Felton (Last: 8) – Ray’s assist numbers are up the past three games, handing out 8, 6 and 6 against the Cavs, Sixers and Pacers respectively. But his poor defense was one of the main culprits in Jarrett Jack’s latest evisceration of the Knicks. Quite frankly, Felton remains one of the worst defensive starting point guards in a league where you can’t really afford to employ that person.
9. Cole Aldrich (Last: 10) – As the Knicks have shortened their rotation down the stretch (and with injuries to front court players Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin), Aldrich is seemingly the last real rotation player at the current moment. Although it’s been very limited duty, Aldrich has been a pretty reliable rebounder; according to basketball-reference.com, Aldrich has pulled down 22.7% of available total rebounds when he’s on the floor, and a whopping 34.8% of available defensive rebounds.
10. Toure Murry (Last: 12) – Murry had a cameo against Philadelphia, playing 4 minutes.
11. Jeremy Tyler (Last: 10) – Tyler also had a cameo against Philadephia, playing 4 minutes.
12. Shannon Brown (Last: 13) – Brown had more than a cameo against Cleveland, playing 15 minutes. Why? Does anyone know? Better yet, can anyone figure out why Mike Woodson continues to believe Brown is some sort of defensive stopper, thus keeps inserting him in late game, defense-only situations? It’s not a crucial error, it’s more simply, just, weird.
(Unranked due to long-term injuries: Andrea Bargnani, Kenyon Martin)