Thanks to the New York Knicks' somewhat wacky schedule, the team has only played two games since we shared our first installment of the Knicks Player Power Rankings. But still, the Knicks are the league's only unbeaten team, registering wins over the Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic to improve to 5-0. The Knicks have been wildly consistent in their five victories. Carmelo Anthony has been their leading scorer in every game, they've won all five by double digits and they've yet to yield 90 points to their opponent. Only on Tuesday against the Magic have they ever trailed in the fourth quarter.
A stern test awaits as the Knicks close the week with road games against the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies before a Sunday home tilt with the Indiana Pacers before hitting the road again. While we only have two games to work off of, here's this week's installment:
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) - Anthony continues to score consistently and has been doing so in a pretty efficient way. And in Tuesday's win against the Magic, Anthony did what he does better than almost anyone else in the league and what makes him so valuable to these Knicks: he closed. Anthony hit big shots down the stretch, helping propel the Knicks in an 18-4 run that put the game away. He also continues to rebound and play defense well enough.
2. J.R. Smith (Last: 3) - In his last two games, Smith has 22 and 21 points, shooting 17-of-30 from the field. You can make a case that the first five games of this season has been the best, most well-rounded basketball Smith has ever played. The Knicks don't beat the Magic on Tuesday if not for Smith's great third quarter where he single-handedly kept them in the game with instant offense and possession-stealing plays on defense.
3. Raymond Felton (Last: 6) - Felton's last two games showed his versatility. Against the Mavericks he wasn't asked to score, but dished out a season-high nine assists. But on Tuesday the Magic decided to try and make Felton beat them, and he often did. When Felton's jumper is working like it was on Tuesday, he's tough to stop since he's very good in the pick-and-roll. Orlando tried going under screens on him and forcing him to shoot, and he made them pay. For whatever reason, Felton just has it going when he dons the Orange and Blue.
4. Jason Kidd (Last: 2) - As long as the Knicks keep winning, you're going to find Kidd in the Top 5 or so in these rankings, despite what his stats say. He's the rare basketball player where stats just don't even begin to scratch the surface of his importance. On Tuesday against the Magic, Kidd's defense in the fourth quarter was a big reason the Knicks only gave up 13 points in the final frame. His traps and double teams are second to none. It's been a long time since the Knicks have had a player this consistently intelligent on the floor.
5. Tyson Chandler (Last: 7) - The Knicks' center still doesn't seem totally right - he needed three alley-oops from Felton on Tuesday to finally convert one - but he remains rock-solid in the defensive paint. Expect his rebounds per game of 7.5 to start spiking soon.
6. Ronnie Brewer (Last: 4) - Brewer struggled a bit on Tuesday against the Magic, as he was pulled by Mike Woodson in favor of Smith early in the third and didn't return, logging only 17 minutes. But he played a very good all around game against the Mavericks last week, finishing with 13 points, 8 rebounds and was a team-high +19.
7. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 8) - Like Brewer, Prigioni found himself on the bench for the second half against Orlando as Woodson appeared to shorten the bench in what was the Knicks' closest game thus far. He's played just 17 total minutes the past two games, but did provide a little but of offense in the first half on Tuesday against the Magic. When Iman Shumpert comes back, there's a good chance Prigioni's role will be even further diminished.
8. Steve Novak (Last: 9) - On Tuesday when the Knicks were struggling offensively, I felt like it was a perfect game for Novak to shine in, but the Knicks haven't been able to get him too many good looks recently. He's obviously one-dimensional, but has done enough on defense that he's not totally useless when not knocking down threes; he was quite good defensively on Tuesday vs. Orlando.
9. Marcus Camby (Last: NR) - In the 12 minutes he's played in the last two games since coming back from injury, Camby has been more effective than Rasheed Wallace. That's not much of an accomplishment given the way Sheed has played recently. Camby really should get the lion's share of the backup center minutes when he's totally healthy, not Wallace.
10. Rasheed Wallace (Last: 5) - Well, that was fun while it lasted. Wallace has missed his last 12 three point attempts. He should simply be a garbage time guy.
11. Kurt Thomas (Last: 9) - The minutes Wallace has gotten the past two games should be going to Thomas. At the very least he'll stay in the paint and not wander out to the three point line.
12. Chris Copeland (Last: 11) - Did not play since last ranking.
13. James White (Last: 12) - Did not play since last ranking.