Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
The Knicks have hit their first rough patch of the season, falling in three out of their last four games.
Gasp! The New York Knicks are losing some games now. This is weird, yet oddly familiar since that's what they've done for most of the past 12 years or so. But this new Knicks team, with their unselfish, neckache-creating ball movement and stifling defense...what happened? Well, since our last edition of our Knicks Player Power Rankings, the Knicks fell to the Dallas Mavericks, were completely blown out by Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets, and lost Round 1 to the rival Brooklyn Nets. Their lone win was against a poor Detroit team at home - but the Knicks remain a respectable 9-4 heading into Wednesday night's tilt with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Before the inevitable HOLY CRAP CAN WE STOP BRANDON JENNINGS ONE TIME!, here are our latest rankings:
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) - 'Melo keeps the top spot, where he's been all year, despite having two chances to win games late but failing to do so. Those instances came against the Mavs and Nets, but in both of those games the Knicks are in no position to win at all without Anthony. Against the Nets he showed some grit and toughness, hitting the glass on both ends. And oh right, he kept on scoring, notching 23, 37, 29 and 35 in in last four games.
2. Jason Kidd (Last: 2) - I think it was the Counting Crows who sung "You don't know what you got til it's gone". Wait, that was a remake? Anyway, well, I think the Knicks and their fans already did know the value of Kidd before his absence against the Nets, but anyone who didn't certainly now knows. Without Kidd, the Knicks' offense became incredibly stagnant, and there's a good chance the Knicks beat the Nets if Kidd was out there controlling things in the final stages instead of Raymond Felton. Kidd didn't make the trip to Milwaukee, either.
3. Tyson Chandler (Last: 6) - Chandler made a big jump in this week's rankings, much in part to his big boy performance against the Nets on Monday (28 pts. 10 rebs on 12-of-13 shooting). Also had a nice 21 and 13 performance at his old stomping grounds in Dallas. His defense this year hasn't been as dominant as it was last season, but he was also banged up in preseason so we'll see how he progresses on that side of the ball as the season wears on.
4. J.R. Smith (Last: 3) - Smith has really cooled off since his great start to the season, but he's continued to rebound and play defense well throughout his shooting struggles. He has 17 rebounds in his last two games, including 10 in a double-double performance against Detroit in the Knicks' lone win of our rankings period. Whatever that "Oh I have a 50/50 chance at a layup but I'll dribble back to the 3-point line and try this" thing he did against the Nets needs to never happen again.
5. Raymond Felton (Last: 4) - Like Smith, Felton is hitting a rough patch of his own. I don't think I was alone in not loving the fact that Felton was taking a lot of shots down the stretch against Brooklyn - on designed sets from Mike Woodson - while he was clearly off all game. He finished a ghastly 3-for-19 against the Nets, and it's also worth noting that he was destroyed on the defensive end by Deron Williams (which can happen to anyone). Did put up a solid 14 and 10 asissts with no turnovers against the Pistons, though.
6. Rasheed Wallace (Last: 7) - Should we be concerned that 'Sheed is probably the sixth or seventh best Knick right now? I mean, it IS 2012. Regardless, he's found a niche on this team. Went for 15 against his former mates on the weekend and pulled in 8 boards in 23 minutes against the Nets. Still, would really like to see him shoot just a tad bit less.
7. Ronnie Brewer (Last: 5) - Brewer has settled into the role he's likely to play the rest of the year, one the Knicks probably envisioned when they signed him, which doesn't include the hot shooting he started the season with. Still, Brewer is good for about a three a game. He remains in the starting lineup, but his minutes have diminished a bit.
8. Steve Novak (Last: 10) - Sunday against the Pistons was a return to form for Novak as he hit 5-of-7 threes and dropped 18 points. Although he has struggled to get consistent open looks for most of the season, Novak has done enough on defensively, and his presence on the offensive end warrants minutes. He can still get hot at any time.
9. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 9) - Prigioni didn't play against Dallas and played a combined 39 in the Knicks' last three games. We'd like to see him earn some more meaningful minutes at least until Iman Shumpert returns, because Felton and Kidd need rest.
11. Kurt Thomas (Last: 12) - Thomas earned a start by default against the Nets when Kidd couldn't play, but he only played eight minutes (did grab two boards in that span!). Has only played in two of the Knicks' last five games.
12. Marcus Camby (Last: 8) - Camby didn't play against Dallas or Houston and just five apiece against Detroit and Brooklyn. Whatever's up with Camby, he needs to get healthy. The Knicks, who have been an awful rebounding team most of the season, are going to need him to be able to play at least 18 minutes a game as the games get more important later in the year.
13. Chris Copeland (Last: 13) - You're gonna have to do more in garbage time, Cope, in order to get out of our rankings basement.