After a stretch where they lost three out of four, the Knicks rebounded with three straight wins since our last edition of the Player Power Rankings.
Crisis averted. When we last found ourselves here at our New York Knicks Player Power Rankings, the 'Bockers had just lost three of four and had officially become second class citizens in their own city like the Jets or the Mets (according to Ian O'Connor, at least). Maybe they have the schedule makers to thank but the Knicks have won three on the trot and have retaken first place in the Atlantic Division with a 12-4 record, slightly ahead of their NEW DADDY the Brooklyn Nets. But there's no reason to look down on the Knicks' past three wins (a road win at Milwaukee and home victories over Washington and Phoenix), and that's because all three were one-sided games that the Knicks controlled wire-to-wire. News flash: there are a lot, A LOT of bad teams in the NBA. You're one of the good ones if you can consistently beat the bad ones by large margins, which the Knicks have done this season so far.
And you can thank Carmelo Anthony for that. While the Knicks are playing great team ball, 'Melo has been dominant in first halves all season, helping the Knicks get out to big leads. He had 29 points a week ago against Milwaukee and didn't even need to play the fourth quarter to get it, and led the Knicks in scoring in the home wins over the Wizards and Suns. With another great week under his belt, Anthony held on to the top spot in our latest rankings, where he's been all year.
1. Carmelo Anthony (Last: 1) - 83 points total in the three Knicks' wins since our last ranking for 'Melo, obviously a team high. Just as impressive as the scoring totals was Anthony's rebounding, as he had 8,5 and 6, respectively, against Milwaukee, Washington and Phoenix. The naysayers will point to Melo's 11-for-27 on Sunday against the Suns and say "See! He hasn't changed! He's a hog!", but those games are few and far between so far this season. Either way, a great scorer like Anthony will always have games where he puts up a few too many shots, and you just need to learn to live with that provided it's not an every night occurrence.
2. Tyson Chandler (Last: 3) - Chandler's steady rise in our rankings continues after a really good three game stretch. Chandler averaged 14.6 points and 10.3 boards during the stretch, highlighted by a 15-13-2 (blocks) line on Sunday. The high field goal percentage continues, as he rarely shoots from outside nine inches. But if you were hitting pick-and-rolls with Raymond Felton and had the ability to get easy putbacks, you wouldn't try anything else, either.
3. Raymond Felton (Last: 5) - After a terrifying performance in Brooklyn, Felton rebounded nicely. The assist numbers are a bit low, with 16 total in the three victories, but that goes against just six turnovers including none on Sunday, which was Felton's best performance of the week. He had 23 points on an efficient 10-of-17 shooting with seven dimes. Felton hurt his hand on Sunday, but is probable for Wednesday's game in Charlotte.
4. Jason Kidd (Last: 2) - Kidd only drops two spots despite not playing since Nov. 25 because of back spasms. He is expected to return on Wednesday night in Charlotte, which is very good news for the Knicks.
5. Ronnie Brewer (Last: 7) - You know what you're getting from Brewer every night, and he just seems to have a perfect role on this team. Most good teams have guys who play the same role that Brewer plays for New York - think Thabo Sefolosha in Oklahoma City, Matt Barnes with the Clippers and Tony Allen in Memphis. It was nice to see Brew get back into double digits in the point column, which he did last Friday against Washington with a 12-point outing.
6. Steve Novak (Last: 8) - It was a homecoming of sorts for Novak last Wednesday when the Knicks played in Milwaukee, where he played a lot of his home games while in college at Marquette. Must be something about the rims at the Bradley Center, as he hit 5-of-7 from three and 7-of-10 overall for a season-high 19 points (which included a fast break layup in which he was subsequently mocked by his entire team for not dunking - hey guys, he's not very familiar from a foot out). against Washington and Phoenix, Novak hit seven of his 15 three attempts, so he seems to have found the stroke again. And he's quietly been a very solid defender all season long.
7. J.R. Smith (Last: 4) - Smith has played nothing like his scorching start to the season, but he seems to be getting his footing back a bit. In the blowout over the Wizards, Smith was 9-of-14 for 20 points with 6 assists, including two three pointers, but followed that up with a 1-for-11 effort against the Suns. Thursday against Miami would be a good time for J.R. to find the groove again.
8. Pablo Prigioni (Last: 9) - The Argentinean stepped in really nicely for the injured Kidd, beginning in Milwaukee with his best performance of the season with 11 points and 7 assists. The turnover numbers have been a bit high for Prigioni, which I find interesting because he kind of gives you the sense that he won't hurt you out there at all. Maybe it's just that he plays at such a slow pace that and that he doesn't try to do too much that it seems like he's a safe bet out there.
9. Rasheed Wallace (Last: 6) - Getting ejected in just over a minute and a half of playing time WILL see you plummet down the Power Rankings, 'Sheed. Going 5-of-15 in just 32 minutes against Milwaukee and Washington will as well. You like what Wallace brings in terms of toughness, defense and his prowess from beyond the arc, but he simply doesn't need to shoot as much as he has been.
10. Chris Copeland (Last: 13) - Out of the basement! Atta boy Cope! Copeland moved up with much thanks to Sunday's relief job for the ejected Wallace, playing a solid 10 minutes early on and scoring 8 points with three rebounds, two assists, a block, a steal, and a partridge in a pear tree.
11. Kurt Thomas (Last: 11) - Thomas started the last three games, but played only 12 combined minutes against the Bucks and Wizards. He did log season-highs with 19 minutes and six rebounds against the Suns on Sunday.
13. Marcus Camby (Last: 12) - The Knicks signed Camby for three years, right? Okay, just checking.