Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Ranking the East-leading, 18-6, New York Knicks player-by-player.
Well, as long as the New York Knicks don't face the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals, I think all Knicks fans will be happy right? If the Houston Rockets didn't exist, the Knicks would be 18-4. (And I guess we would have won the 1994 title by default? Stop existing, Houston Rockets) Since our last rankings, the Knicks lost their first home game of the season as Jeremy Lin dropped 22 and 8 on their heads in Linsanity's return to MSG. But that game snapped a four-game win streak, which for these rankings' purposes, were highlighted by wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers.With those wins, the Knicks are holdin' steady atop the Eastern Conference.
The health of the Knicks' stars is the big question surrounding the team right now. Carmelo Anthony badly sprained his ankle against LA, causing him to miss the games against the Cavs and Rockets, and he is questionable for Wednesday's third round scrap against Brooklyn. Amare Stoudemire, however, appears to be on his way back, and this could be the last ranking we do without the Knicks' potential $100 million bench player. On to the rankings we go:
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) - We'll see how long Anthony is injured for, but he still holds the top spot even though he only played a little over a half during our ranking period. And WHAT a half-plus that was, as 'Melo was knocking down all sorts of shots in a barrage against LA. In 23 minutes, Anthony had 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting. WHOA. But he had no assists everybody! SO SELFISH. In all seriousness, the MVP-like season continues for the Knicks' best player. Now let's just hope he can get, and stay, healthy.
2. Tyson Chandler (Last: 2) - Don't look now but Chandler is putting up a career year, and that's with some sub-par defensive play based on his lofty standards. Chandler is averaging career highs in points and rebounds 12.9 and 10. Last week, he put up 18 and 23 against the Lakers and Cavs respectively, and had 18 boards in the losing effort against Houston. He's become one of the deadliest pick-and-roll finishers in the league, and nobody has figured out how to stop it yet. Hopefully they never do.
3. Jason Kidd (Last: 3) - It was a battle between Kidd and Ray Felton for the third and fourth spots, and I stuck with Kidd despite the fact that he's hit a bit of a shooting slump (just 5-of-23 in his last two games). Against the Lakers, Kidd stuffed the stat sheet with 5 pts, 9 rebs and 5 assists, and oh yeah he guarded Kobe Bryant basically all night. The fact that Kobe had a pretty big night is irrelevant. 39-year-old Jason Kidd chased Kobe Bryant around and did well. Kudos.
4. Raymond Felton (Last: 4) - With Anthony out, Felton went back to his customary "I'm going to take a crapload of shots" ways, and as usual when Felton shoots a ton, there were mixed results. He's taken 64 shots in the past three games. Still, he's put up fine numbers and was instrumental in the Knicks' victory over the Cavs with 25 pts, 7 ast and 5 rebs in his most efficient game of the bunch with 9-of-20 shooting.
5. Steve Novak (Last: 6) - Novak leapfrogs J.R. Smith (a brilliant real-life visual if you let your mind go there) based on the fact that he played his role just about perfectly in the wins over the Lakers and Cavs. In those two games combined, Novak played 59 minutes, hit 8-of-12 from deep for 25 combined points. And against the Lakers, all his three seemed to be perfectly-timed daggers.Also, the Lakers somehow allowed Novak to register four assists in a single game. If and when Mike D'Antoni gets fired by LA, this will be one of the reasons that Mitch Kupchak and/or Jerry Buss allude to.
6. J.R. Smith (Last: 5) - Smith has been trying to find consistency since he started slumping after his hot start and it looks like he's just about there. With J.R. you want to see some efficiency in his shooting numbers, and he did shoot 50% or over against the Lakers and Rockets, sandwiched by a 6-of-20 night against Cleveland. Although, against the Rockets, Smith really struggled early on on the defensive end, picking up quick and silly fouls. When Anthony is out, Smith needs to be able to stay on the floor for his offense.
7. Chris Copeland (Last: 12) - Why the heck not...Merry Christmas, Cope. He put up a career high 29 points against the Rockets, and although a lot of them were in garbage time, a lot of them were also during a third quarter run where he single handedly brought the Knicks back into the game, getting them within five before James Harden started playing like it was NBA Jam. Copeland got his first NBA start last Saturday against the Cavs, and played a solid offensive 19 minutes with 11 points. At the very least while Anthony is out, Copeland has proven that he's not out of place in an NBA game.
8. Ronnie Brewer (Last: 8) - Brewer hasn't hit a three pointer since Dec. 9, which wouldn't really be a thing if he didn't start out the season doing a Reggie Miller impersonation. Regardless, Brewer's worth doesn't show up in the stat sheet. A lot of people want to slash Brewer's minutes when Iman Shumpert comes back, but I'm not so sure I would go ahead and start Shumpert right away instead of Brewer. I'm personally not sure where I sit on that debate altogether, but am interested how Mike Woodson handles it for sure.
9. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 9) - Pablo put up 14 in the loss to the Rockets, as the game got out of hand. In the previous three games, Pablo had no points, 3 rebs and 1 ast, in EACH game. Pablo is consistent.
10. Rasheed Wallace (Last: 7) - I liked Wallace's performance against the Lakers about as much as I liked his performance last week against Brooklyn, which is a lot. Against the Lakers, Sheed played 12 minutes and only took five shots, making three of them (2-of-4 from 3). He also had four fouls. It's great when Rasheed Wallace uses his fouls. It really should be one foul per two minutes played for him. He missed the past two games due to injury.
11. Kurt Thomas (Last: 10) - Thomas ranks ahead of James White because he played good "real" minutes against Cleveland. Anytime Kurt Thomas scores, I think I speak for all of Knicks Nation when I say it's the absolute best part of my entire day.
12. James White (Last: 11) - Got a nice 23-minute run in the loss to Houston. Outside of that, played four minutes against the Lakers and zip against the Cavs.
13. Marcus Camby (Last: 13) - In the basement until he gets healthy.