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As we near to the conclusion of this wild 2011-12 NBA season, the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets are two teams hoping for totally different results. With six games left for the Knicks, winning half of them will probably secure a playoff spot. The Knicks and their fans had higher hopes entering the season, but after the longest 66-game season ever that felt like five different seasons in one (that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but work with me here), the Knicks will gladly sign up for a spot in the second season.
The Nets hope they can find a way into the top 3 in the NBA Draft lottery so that they can keep their draft pick. If not it goes to the TrailBlazers because of the Gerald Wallace trade. Enjoy your parting gift, New Jersey.
SBNation New York Top 5
1. Carmelo Anthony - Knicks
If you were putting together full-league player power rankings for the past month of so, you'd have to consider putting Anthony somewhere near the top. The shorthanded Knicks have needed him to be great, and he's been great. He's averaging nearly 33 points per game in his last five, going for 43 and 42 in a win against the Bulls and a loss to the Heat, respectively. He'll always have his detractors, like the New York Post's Peter Vecsey, who currently has a piece up with the headline "If New York Knicks offense goes through Carmelo Anthony, team can't win". So with the Knicks enduring the Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire injuries, it totally makes sense for them to run their offense through Landry Fields, Baron Davis, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Right.
2. Gerald Green - Nets
Not all has been lost for the Nets this season. Green, a first round pick in 2005, was out of the NBA when New Jersey came calling. He has responded by showing off the athleticism that got him to the league right out of high school to begin with. Over the last week he's averaged over 15 points a game in addition to one jaw-dropping slam a night.
3. J.R. Smith - Knicks
We've been through the whimsical experience that is watching J.R. Smith play basketball before, but he lands here almost solely on the heels of one shot. His late three-pointer to put the Knicks up over the Bucks last Wednesday was the Knicks' biggest make of the season. With the Knicks' current roster as is, they need Smith's offense.
4. Tyson Chandler - Knicks
The most consistent Knick all season keeps on churning, and last week was a monster on the boards. His rebound totals in the Knicks' past five games are 5, 15, 11, 15 and 16. Unfortunately, the five came on Sunday against the Heat, and you'll want to see more from Chandler against the big boys. But we're nitpicking - it's been near impossible to criticize him all season.
5. Kris Humphries - Nets
In the news once again because of things having nothing to do with basketball -- thanks, Kanye -- Humphries just kept on grinding out a career year. The forward put up an impressive double-double the last week of over 18 points and 10 rebounds. Not too bad for a guy that couldn't get a contract until just before the season started.
SB Nation New York Bottom Five
1. Sundiata Gaines - Nets
Perfect example of a guy that has a job simply because the Nets can't keep anyone healthy. Gaines played 12, 8 and 33 minutes in games this week and New Jersey's only win was the one that found him never getting off the bench. He showed some signs of life against the Heat, but not enough to get him off of this list.
2. Landry Fields - Knicks
At some point you have to start wondering whether Fields is even deserving of the "starting" shooting guard spot. Fields isn't the first option for Mike Woodson, as J.R. Smith has commandeered the fourth quarter shooting guard minutes from Fields, and with good reason. A very lackluster performance on Sunday vs. the Heat only further illustrated that Fields is in a bad way right now.
3. Johan Petro - Knicks
You won't believe me, but someone is going to take Petro off the Nets' hands during the offseason and not just because he's an expiring contract. Sure, he's a walking turnover that is constantly pushed around, but every so often he makes a move around the rim that makes you rewind the DVR to make sure the announcers got the name right. When you are seven feet and just 26 years old, there's always hope you can be salvaged.
4. DeShawn Stevenson - Nets
Another stellar week in what has been the worst season of Stevenson's career. He averaged three points in nearly 17 minutes and shot 4-for-17.
5. J.R. Smith's Evil Twin Brother - Knicks
Please stay away for the remainder of the season. Thanks.
Here's where SBNation's NBA guru Tom Ziller has the Knicks and Nets ranked in his latest weekly NBA Power Rankings:
14. New York Knicks: Peeling off one game in a playoff series has to be considered a win at this point, right? The thing is: this team should be better than the Knicks exactly one year ago. Those Knicks didn't have a tenable point guard (Chauncey Billups was injured) and Amar'e Stoudemire was banged up. But this version has Tyson Chandler. The Knicks should be a lot better than "flirting with .500."
23. New Jersey Nets: The Nets have two more games in New Jersey. Given that the opponents are the Knicks and Sixers, Nets fans will almost assuredly be outnumbered. Sounds about right. (It's kinda criminal how the Ratner and Prokhorov management teams treated Newark and north Jersey. We'll see if the league ever gives Newark another shot with a committed club that isn't just biding time.)
The volatile season for New York area basketball continued last week, with the New Jersey Nets surprisingly winning three straight while more injuries and controversy shrouded over the New York Knicks. After watching last night's NCAA National Championship game, it might be a good idea for the Nets to start losing some games, since the pick they sent to Portland in the Gerald Wallace deal is top-3 protected (meaning they'll keep it if the pick ends up being 1-3), and Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson would all look pretty good in a Brooklyn Nets uniform next season. As for the beaten and battered Knicks, they're trying to keep the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference and ward off the ever-charging Milwaukee Bucks, but will have to do so without Jeremy Lin. See how last week's performances shifted our SBNation New York Player Power Rankings:
SBNation New York Top 5
1. Gerald Wallace - Nets
For the first time all season, the Nets won three straight and Wallace was leading the charge. He averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds this week, including a monster 24 and 18 game against the Golden State Warriors. Wallace is giving Deron Williams the help on offense New Jersey thought they would have all season with Brook Lopez.
2. Carmelo Anthony - Knicks
The talk of this now being Carmelo's job to get done has heated up, and Anthony has responded by playing more akin to the perennial All-Star the Knicks acquired last February. Against the Magic last Wednesday, Anthony scored 25 points, doled out 6 assists and pulled down 5 boards, all while sitting out the entire 4th quarter. In an ugly win over the Cavaliers on Saturday, Anthony shot 50% and collected 19 points. Making 27 out of 53 field goal attempts (a 51% clip) in the Knicks' past three games? New York will sign up for that the rest of the way.
3. Deron Williams - Nets
Being able to focus on distributing -- and not having to be a "one-man band" as Avery Johnson said this week -- has helped push New Jersey past the Pacers, Warriors and Kings. Sure, Williams still did plenty of scoring -- just over 19 points a game -- but averaged nearly 15 assists, including 20 at Golden State. He might not stay with the Nets when they make the move to Brooklyn, but you can't accuse him of doing anything but giving it his all down the stretch of these meaningless games.
4. Iman Shumpert - Knicks
Good luck figuring out Iman Shumpert. He looks like Dwyane Wade on some nights, Ricky Davis on others. He has two-straight 25-point efforts last week, against the Magic and Hawks, but then went just 3-of-12 against the Cavaliers. With Lin down, Baron Davis looking old and beaten and the ever-unreliable J.R. Smith getting serious minutes, the Knicks could use more of the Wade-like Shumpert the rest of the way.
5. Kris Humphries - Nets
The only person happier to have Wallace around other than Williams is Humphries. The forward no longer has to do all the dirty work on the glass and knows he has help above the rim from the high flying Wallace. No doubt Humphries will gladly "only" pull down 10 rebounds a game -- as he did this week -- if it means he doesn't have to take the beating that comes along with carrying the load.
SBNation New York Bottom 5
1. Jeremy Lin - Knicks
It's not Lin's play that ended him up in our Bottom 5, but that his meniscus tear and subsequent surgery couldn't have come at a worse possible time for the Knicks. With his absence severely hampering the Knicks' chances of getting into the Top 6 of the East, there's a good chance the next time we see Lin in a Knicks uniform will be in October.
2. Sundiata Gaines - Nets
The one thing that didn't change during the Nets winning streak was Avery Johnson holding his breath every time Deron Williams hit the bench. In the first two wins of the week, Williams had a +26 while Gaines could manage a -12. Certainly plus/minus can often be misleading, but with these two it's the perfect example of why New Jersey has trouble holding onto leads. Who knew losing Jordan Farmar would be such a blow to the Nets?
3. Baron Davis - Knicks
Davis looks old, slow and hurt - wait, he doesn't just look those things, he is those things...but the Knicks are going to need more from their point guard position if they want to safely secure a playoff spot. Davis averaged just 7 points and 5 assists last week, and more importantly, can't really crack the 30-minute plateau. It's not exactly Davis' fault, but remember when we all thought he'd be the savior? All we can say is thank goodness for Jeremy Lin.
4. Johan Petro - Nets
You know it's a good week when even Petro only ends up here because this section was created for him. He's actually looked like an NBA player during the Nets winning streak, averaging eight points and six rebounds. Even with a solid handful of games by his standards, few around the team would argue all parties are best served with Petro staying on the bench.
5. James Dolan/Mort Zuckerman/Cablevision/Daily News
You're all a bunch of clowns.
Here's where SBNation's Tim Ziller has the Knicks and Nets in his latest NBA Power Rankings:
23. New Jersey Nets - Deron Williams, 35 assists in a back-to-back this weekend, also ranks highly on the Bad Team MVP ladder, but I refuse to acknowledge that the Nets are even a team. The Nets are the NBA's version of a weird mid-career concept album.
The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets have had very different weeks. The Mike Woodson-led Knicks continued their resurgence in the race for a playoff birth, going 4-1 while the Nets could only pull off a victory over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats for a 1-3 week.
Both teams will face a difficult week with the Knicks being dealt injuries to Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin and the Nets caught in between keeping PG Deron Williams happy and doing all they can to snag a top 3 pick in June's draft.
As the 2011-12 NBA season winds down, it's clear these two franchises are in very different places. Here is a look at the best and worst for each team over the last week.
1. Amar'e Stoudemire
Unfortunately for the Knicks, this could be the last time Stoudemire finds himself in the "Top" of our rankings. With the news yesterday that he has a bulging disk in his back and is out indefinitely, the Knicks will have to move on without Stoudemire for now. It's even more crushing given Stoudemire's recent play. Last week, he really started to come around and looked as though he regained the "spring" and athleticism that many thought he had lost. Against the Sixers last Thursday, Stoudemire was the best player on the floor, leading the way with 21 points and chipping in defensively as well.
Chandler kept plugging along since our last rankings, staying consistent with scoring, rebounding and defense. In their last five games, the Knicks have given up an average of 84.2 points. The Knicks simply can't do that over any five-game stretch without Chandler patrolling the middle.
3. Deron Williams
Most of the Nets players may be mailing it in, but not Williams. He continues to play with fire every night, though that recently has meant showing more frustration than we are used to seeing. Over the last week Williams averaged over 18 points and nine assists, often single-handedly keeping New Jersey in games.
4. Jeremy Lin
Lin missed Monday's win over the Bucks with a knee injury, but it's not expected to be serious. That's a good thing for the Knicks, who will need Lin to pick up some of the offensive slack with Stoudemire out. In his four games since our last rankings, Lin wasn't spectacular but was efficient. In last Thurdsay's big win over the Sixers, Lin scored 16 fourth quarter points.
5. Gerald Green
The athletic Green continues to look like a keeper for the Nets. To go along with the nightly highlight-reel dunks, he has provided an offensive spark off the bench, picking up the slack for MarShon Brooks, who has hit the rookie wall. Last week Green averaged over 11 points per game, including a 20 point outburst against the Utah Jazz.
If Mike Woodson's taking over for Mike D'Antoni had the wrong impact on anyone, it's Fields. He averaged just 4.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2 assists in the past five games, and Woodson almost always favors Iman Shumpert or J.R. Smith and the 2-guard in crucial minutes.
2. Baron Davis
Everybody railed against Jeremy Lin for turning the ball over, and he's essentially a rookie. The veteran Davis should be better at taking care of the ball, but he had more turnovers (20) than assists (18) since our last rankings. If Lin is out for any more time, Davis simply has to hold onto the ball better.
A groin injury could end his season, but it's safe to say no matter what he's had to deal with, Farmar has been a disappointment for the Nets. He returned for two games this week and in 28 minutes of action had three assists to go along with three turnovers. New Jersey's lack of any sort of legitimate backup PG has been a huge reason for losing close games thanks to the second unit's inability to hold the fort.
What did Toney Douglas do to the Knicks to get completely banished from the lineup? With Lin out Monday, Mike Bibby played 12 minutes backing up Davis. There's no rationale for that.
5. Johan Petro
After a season of teasing, Nets head coach Avery Johnson may finally be on the verge of eliminating Petro from the lineup. Rookie Jordan Williams has taken on an increased role off the bench and should allow the front court to operate without the services of the disappointing center.
19. New York Knicks
Just when the Knicks make it seem like it's all clicking, they do something like "lose to the Raptors." It's just the Knick way.
27. New Jersey Nets
But they beat the Bobcats! (Oh, god.)
Since our last edition of the SBNation New York NBA Power Rankings, there was a seismic event in New York area basketball. Out went Mike D'Antoni as head coach of the Knicks, and in came Mike Woodson in the interim. The Knicks have responded by going 3-0 under Woodson.
As for the Nets, they acquired Gerald Wallace from the Portland TrailBlazers, but unfortunately it looks as though he might be their marquee guy in the move to Brooklyn next year. With Dwight Howard re-upping in Orlando for another year, Deron Williams is expected to test the free agency waters this summer. For a week at least, it seems as if the two teams are going in opposite directions.
1. Mike Woodson
With the resignation of Mike D'Antoni last Wednesday, in stepped Woodson as the interim coach. The immediate results? A renewed energy, a stiffer defense, and a 3-0 record. Sure, in just three games it's impossible to say that Woodson is a savior of any sort. But the Knicks have no doubt responded to the changing of the guard.
Anthony was going to come under some fire for D'Antoni's resignation, as most believe it was his unhappiness with the coach that led to the "mutual" parting of the ways. Now it's time for Anthony to put up or shut up, and while he hasn't put up gigantic numbers since D'Antoni left, he's been efficient. He's averaged 5 assists per game in the 3-game winning streak. The Knicks haven't been in a close game late in the fourth quarter under Woodson yet, and when that happens, you'll see Anthony get the lion's share of the touches. As he should.
3. Gerald Green
In what has been a disastrous final season in New Jersey, there have been few pleasant surprises. Green has been the rare exception, turning a couple 10-day contracts into a deal for the rest of the season thanks to another solid week. He started off with a 26 point effort against the Toronto Raptors in the Nets only win on Wednesday night and averaged over 15 points.
4. Deron Williams
He missed the Nets first two games of the week, but returned Saturday against the New Orleans Hornets and didn't miss a beat. Turning in performances of 20 and 28 points, Williams continues to be the only consistent option head coach Avery Johnson has on offense. The frustration is building with Williams, but it hasn't hurt his production.
5. J.R. Smith
Despite being a headache as expected (like tweeting a picture of his girlfriend's butt, and earning a technical for hanging on the rim late in a blowout against the Pacers) Smith has provided the Knicks with some hot shooting off the bench. After not scoring last Monday against the Bulls, Smith is averaging over 16 points per game in the Knicks' last three games. A lot of his points came in garbage time, but Smith finding his stroke is a good sign for the Knicks.
1. Mike D'Antoni
The mutual parting of ways by D'Antoni and the Knicks last Wednesday proved that D'Antoni is a stubborn, one-dimensional coach. Him and Carmelo Anthony were never a good fit, but it's pretty tough to call yourself an "offensive genius" when you can't fashion a consistent offense with the likes of Anthony and Amare Stoudemire on your roster. D'Antoni is married to his ball movement, heavy-on-spacing offense where the focal point is the point guard. He's simply lost in any other scenario.
Think of this: Pat Riley successfully guided the "Showtime" Lakers of the 80s, a team that ran through Magic Johnson, its best player. When Riley came to the Knicks in the early 90s, he didn't force that same style on a roster that wasn't shaped for it. He knew better than to play run-and-gun through Derek Harper. He saw the roster (Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, John Starks) and ran a slow-down, drag it out style through its best player, Ewing. He adapted. Mike D'Antoni has just a bout proven that he can't. That's the last time D'Antoni and Riley should be mentioned in the same sentence.
2. Kris Humphries
A rare below average week for the power forward. In what has been a second fantastic season with New Jersey, Humphries didn't have any luck on offense, but at least he still managed to pull down nearly 13 rebounds per game.
3. MarShon Brooks
Along with Green, the rookie from Providence has been a bright spot for New Jersey. It would appear, however, Brooks has hit a wall. He struggled with his shot all week, headlined by an atrocious 1-for-11 against the Magic. Things didn't get much better as the week wrapped up with the Cleveland Cavaliers holding him to 3-for-10 from the field.
4. Baron Davis
This isn't for Davis' on-court performance, but rather his hard luck in getting injured last Friday against the Pacers. Davis needs to be healthy, because if not, Mike Bibby will be forced to play minutes.
5. Sundiata Gaines
It's never a good sign when you are immediately replaced in the rotation by a D-League call-up. That's exactly what happened this week with Gaines and Jerry Smith from the Springfield Armor.
Here is where SBNation's Tom Ziller has the Knicks and Nets ranked in his latest NBA Power Rankings:
15. New York Knicks: Mike Woodson hasn't inspired this much excitement since everyone noticed he burned off his eyebrows in a freak chemistry experiment.
The roller coaster that has been the 2011-12 NBA season for the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets continued this past week. The Knicks weren't able to win and while the Nets picked up two solid wins, they quickly headed south without the services of PG Deron Williams.
Not only has the Linsanity calmed down around MSG, but the rumored feud between Carmelo Anthony and Mike D'Antoni has reached a fever pitch for the Knicks that forced the head coach to resign.
Compounding the loss of center Brook Lopez with a calf strain for Williams has simply been too much for New Jersey to handle.The short-handed Nets stayed close with the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks but couldn't hold on in games that were vital to their slim playoff hopes.
SB Nation New York Top 5
Keep booing, folks. The Nets power forward seems to feed off the negative energy from opposing fans as he turned in another solid week. In addition to a monster effort against the Bucks with 31 points and 18 rebounds, Humphries also carried New Jersey to a win over the Charlotte Bobcats with 20 points and 15 boards.
2. Amar'e Stoudemire
Stoudemire has not been good this season, at all, but he seems to be starting to turn around his game a bit. Despite the Knicks losing all five of their games since our last rankings, over that span Stoudemire is averaging 20 points a game. More importantly he's shooting 585 from the field, a mark that is much more like it than his 46% for the season. It hasn't translated into wins for the now-dysfunctional Knicks, but Stoudemire may finally be coming around.
3. Gerald Green
It takes a lot these days to get excited about an in-game dunk. Green went to "a lot" and jumped four levels past that with his unreal windmill alley-oop throw down against the Rockets. The athletic forward isn't all dunks though, as he put up 26 points in the game vs. Houston and is finally giving New Jersey production at small forward.
Chandler earns this spot despite missing two games last week. The Knicks are a totally different team when Chandler isn't in the lineup, as their defense reverts back to what it looked like most of last year -- and most of D'Antoni's tenure during the Knicks -- and that's abysmal. In the two games since his return, he's averaged 10.5 points and 11 rebounds, as he continues to be one of the only consistent Knicks this season. He's also one of the only ones who visibly gives a damn
5. Jeremy Lin
He's averaged 16.6 points and 7.8 assists over the Knicks' last five games. If Lin can settle into those type of numbers, the Knicks will take that from their surprise starting point guard.
1. Mike D'Antoni
2. Carmelo Anthony
The Knicks would have been doomed if both D'Antoni and Anthony stayed around. As usual, the player won out in this dispute, but now the pressure is squarely on Anthony. If the Knicks star still cannot produce, it will fall on his shoulders and not the coach he couldn't get along with.
When the Nets were getting healthy, it was looking like Stevenson would be able to scale his minutes back. Instead, he has stayed in the rotation and continued to do anything productive. He averaged just 3.2 points and 2 rebounds this week. The emergence of Green could help keep him minutes down.
4. J.R. Smith
If you're going to start doing things like tweeting pictures of your girlfriend's backside, you better start hitting some shots, J.R.
5. Johan Petro
He is staying on this list until the Nets find a team silly enough to take him off their hands. Another empty week of games from the big man.
The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets came off the All-Star break with big victories and a tough loss to the Boston Celtics. For the Knicks, the second unit shined in a huge second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers last Wednesday, while the Nets saw Brook Lopez put together a great effort vs. the Mavericks but injure himself later in the week, hurting both the Nets' playoff chances and the ability to acquire Dwight Howard. And of course, there's Deron Williams, who had a career-high 57 points on Sunday against the hapless Bobcats. That performance earned him the top spot in out weekly rankings.
SB Nation New York Top 5
1. Deron Williams - Nets
After scoring 20 points in the All Star game to help bring the East to the verge of a huge come from behind win, Williams turned in the best performance of his career. He dropped a mind-boggling 57 points against the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday. Unlike some big-time scoring performances we've seen in the past, the Nets needed every one of D-Will's baskets in their 104-101 victory. With Brook Lopez out for at least three weeks, the point guard will need to stay offensive-minded every night.
2. Carmelo Anthony - Knicks
Those who are painting Anthony as an un-clutch based on missing a potential game-winner against the Celtics are totally lost (here's looking at you, mainstream New York media). First off, the Knicks had no chance of beating the Celtics if it weren't for Anthony, who matched Paul Pierce big shot for big shot in the fourth quarter until he missed at the buzzer. His 11 fourth quarter points were exactly what the Knicks need from him going forward, the ability to take over in crunch time. This time, he was just short of closing the game. Additionally, he had a very efficient 22 points, 5 rebound and 4 assist effort in the Knicks' win over the Cavs last week.
3. Brook Lopez - Nets
Speaking of the all-of-a-sudden injury prone center, Lopez earns a spot here for possibly the last time this season. He came out of the gate after the break like a man on a mission. He put up 38 in a win over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, 28 points against the Boston Celtics Friday and was getting into a groove early against the Bobcats (six points in 15 minutes) before severely spraining his ankle.
4. Jeremy Lin - Knicks
Despite not playing particularly well in the Knicks' loss to the Celtics last Sunday, Lin remains in the Top 5. On Sunday despite the overall underwhelming performance, Lin bounced back and showed a little more flair for the dramatic, scoring five huge points down the stretch to help the Knicks grab a lead, which of course they surrendered thanks to Paul Pierce's clutch 3-pointer. In last week's win against the Cavaliers, Lin had 19 points and 13 assists.
5. Gerald Green - Nets
He has only played three games with the Nets since signing his 10-day contract, but Green quickly showed he had what the team has been lacking all season: athleticism. He scored 11 points against the Celtics and despite only making one basket in the win over the Bobcats, it was a beautiful alley-oop. Finally seeing a Nets player live above the rim is a welcome change of pace.
SB Nation New York Bottom 5
1. Brook Lopez - Nets
For the first time in the history of our rankings, a player shows up in the Top 5 and Bottom 5. It's hard to blame a player for rolling an ankle, but the iron man label Lopez earned his first three seasons in the NBA is now clearly gone. This latest injury not only deals a blow to the Nets pursuit of Dwight Howard, but also their slim playoff hopes.
2. The Boston Celtics
They continue to beat the Knicks in haunting, gut-punching ways. I just dug up this unofficial stat: Kevin Garnett has set 47 illegal screens in his past six games against the Knicks, over the course of which Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have yet to miss a shot. Again, these stats are unofficial.
They also handed the Nets their only loss in their three games last week.
3. DeShawn Stevenson - Nets
His defensive intensity will always get him in the rotation, but it shouldn't be long before Green takes his spot in the starting lineup. Stevenson averaged a whopping 1 point and 3 rebounds this week, and put up an ugly 1-for-6 shooting Friday in a loss to the Celtics.
4. Landry Fields - Knicks
It was a rough week for Fields, who scored a combined five points in the Knicks' two games since the All-Star break. He was also replaced in crunch time against the Celtics by Iman Shumpert, a trend that will likely continue in tight games given Shumpert's excellent defense.
5. Johan Petro - Nets
Another downside to the Lopez injury is Petro will continue to stay in the rotation. Over the last week he has averaged 1.3 points and 6.3 points, shooting 2-for-9.
The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets looked very similar for most of the first half of the 2011-12 NBA season. Both teams were hit by the injury bug up and down their roster and were in a tailspin heading towards the lottery.
Then Linsanity hit and all of a sudden the Knicks looked a whole lot like a contender in the Eastern Conference. Despite ending the first half losing three of their final five (including one at home to the Nets), New York heads to the second half healthy and ready to make a run thanks in large part to the shot of life from point guard Jeremy Lin.
Like the Knicks, the Nets best player in the first half was running the show. Deron Williams, playing most nights as the only offensive weapon in head coach Avery Johnson's arsenal, was fantastic while finding a way to get New Jersey 10 wins. New Jersey is also a team starting to get healthy, including the return of center Brook Lopez from a broken foot.
Entering this short second half of the season, the Knicks are right in the thick of the playoff race, but the Nets are poised to finish up as the best "bad" team in the league thanks to Lopez and the rest of the walking wounded in New Jersey getting healthy.
Before we shine the spotlight on the final 31 games, we need to look back at the best and worst players for the Knicks and Nets in the first half.
SB Nation New York Top 5
1. Jeremy Lin, Knicks
The Knicks went from perhaps the NBA's biggest disappointment to the most talked about team in the league and a probably playoff side thanks to Jeremy Lin, who has become a worldwide sensation. Even though he's only been a prominent figure on the team for a month, the Knicks are 9-3 since Lin started getting serious minutes. He took a dead team and gave it life.
2. Deron Williams, Nets
Thanks to the non-stop injuries, Williams has been forced to play along side the least amount of talent in his career. All he has done is take on the burden of scorer and distributor for New Jersey, pouring in 22.2 points and handing out 8.2 assists per game. The point guard might not know how to handle having both Lopez and impressive rookie MarShon Brooks on the floor with him in the second half.
3. Tyson Chandler, Knicks
He's been everything that the Knicks could have expected and then some more. He's averaging nearly a double-double and is making 70% of his shots. Most impressively has been him overall impact on the Knicks' team defense. Yes, the Knicks finally have more than a few players who are good defenders, but Chandler makes all the difference by patrolling the paint. New York is fifth in the league in Defense Rating, allowing 99.6 points per 100 possessions.
4. Kris Humphries, Nets
This man deserves an award just for having to deal with dumb NBA fans. Humphries is booed at almost every stop along the way for... well, no one is really sure what for. Sure, his short-lived marriage to Kim Kardashian is worthy of the occasional sign or chant, but the non-stop booing is bizarre. All he has done to answer his critics in the stands every night is put together the best season of his life. Humphries is averaging 13.6 points and 10.5 rebounds, both career-highs.
5. Steve Novak, Knicks
There were a myriad of guys who could have been in this spot, namely Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert or Jared Jeffries. I'll give it to Novak because he's made himself an indispensable part of this team who simply needs to get minutes every night on a talented bunch. He's been a beneficiary of Lin's spectacular play, but Novak's clutch three point shooting has become a major asset for the Knicks. That fourth quarter show against the Mavericks a few weeks ago was wild.
SB Nation New York Bottom 5
1. Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks
Stoudemire came into the season with lingering back and knee issues, and he lost his brother in a tragic car accident in early February, so the reasons are palpable, but he just doesn't look the same this year. Stoudemire's scoring hasn't been this low since his '02-'03 rookie season (not counting '05-'06 where he only played three games), and more concerning is his visible lack of explosiveness.His usually reliable mid-range jumpshot -- which should be a real weapon with Lin now running the show -- has been off all year. It was a short while ago that Stoudemire played like an MVP candidate for New York and played an unbelievable Game 1 against the Celtics in the playoffs last year. What happened?
2. Brook Lopez, Nets
A low-blow, I know. It's not right to hold a broken foot against a player, but it's impossible to look at how bad the Nets season has gone and think about how much different it would be if Lopez had been healthy. Not only would New Jersey be a playoff team, but the Orlando Magic would have been given plenty to see leading up to their decision to trade Dwight Howard.
3. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
Don't let the fact that Anthony just started in the All-Star Game fool you. This has not been a good season so far for the Knicks' prized possession. He's shooting a career-worst 40% from the field and his points per game (21.4) is the third-lowest of his career, and he's down by nearly 5 full points from last season. The hard questions are starting to be asked, and despite Lin's surge, most people know the Knicks are Anthony's team. He will simply have to start playing better if the Knicks are going to make any sort of playoff run.
4. Shawne Williams, Nets
Remember when the Knicks and Nets were fighting for his services before the season began? Williams came into the season with an injury, which led to more injuries and now he is out for the season after surgery on his foot. He averaged 4.5 points in 25 games this season and is all but assured now to pick up his player-option for 2012-13.
5. Johan Petro, Nets
Take our backup center... please! There is no bigger disappointment in the area than Petro. With Lopez out for most of the season, he had a chance to prove he was worth the confidence GM Billy King showed in him last year with a long-term contract. Instead of stepping up, Petro has turned dropping perfect passes into an art form.
On Monday, the last night of the “week” that makes up our SBNation New York Power Rankings, Deron Williams’ domination led the Nets to a victory over Jeremy Lin and the Knicks. It was a great performance for Williams, but it wasn’t enough to keep Lin from the top spot in our player power rankings. Despite two losses during the week, Lin still led the Knicks to three wins, including perhaps the most Linsane moment of all last Tuesday with his near-buzzer beater against the Raptors, and maybe his best overall performance in helping the Knicks beat the defending champion Mavericks on Sunday. It’s getting close at the top, but Lin reigns once again.
SB Nation New York Top 5
1. Jeremy Lin, Knicks
On Tuesday, Lin led the Knicks to a frantic come from behind win over the Toronto Raptors, hitting the biggest shot of his young career with the game on the line. Lin’s 3-pointer went through with 0.5 seconds left to give the Knicks a 90-87 win. But perhaps most impressively was Lin’s performance this past Sunday against the Mavericks. The Knicks jumped out to an early lead before the Mavs appeared to take control with a double digit third quarter advantage. But the Lin took over.
His steal-and-dunk at the very end of the third quarter gave the Knicks all the momentum heading into the fourth. And while Steve Novak drained 14 points in the final frame, Lin hit a pair of big 3’s as well, and finished with 28 points and 14 assists. All against one of the best defensive teams in the league and the defending champions? Impressive stuff.
2. Deron Williams, Nets
The Nets were 2-3 since the last rankings and it was the continued fantastic play of Williams that helped New Jersey down the best team in the East, the Miami Heat, and the suddenly surging Knicks. He averaged an out of this world 29.6 points and seven assists last week while shooting 21-for-45 from beyond the arc (47 percent). No one on the Nets is happier to finally have Brook Lopez back, giving the point guard the opportunity to play without always being double teamed.
3. Landry Fields, Knicks
Fields has steadily improved since a cold opening to the season, and last week he continued his solid play with two double-doubles and an excellent first half against the Mavericks on Sunday. I’m not sure why he didn’t see a lot of time in the fourth quarter against the Mavericks despite the Knicks winning – you’ll have to ask Mike D’Antoni that one.
4. Kris Humphries, Nets
The second happiest Net to see Lopez suiting up again? That would be Humphries. He’s done an admirable job picking up the slack on offense while Lopez was out, but he is better just worrying about rebounds and picking up his points on putbacks and dunks. After a week in which he averaged 17 points and 11.4 rebounds, Humphries will get the benefit of going back to being the “clean up crew” as defenses focus on Williams and Lopez.
5. Iman Shumpert, Knicks
Shumpert cracks the Top 5 for his role in two games this past week; and one of those games he didn’t play in. In the Knicks’ victory over the Raptors on Tuesday, Toronto point guard Jose Calderon had 25 points heading into the fourth quarter, doing a number on Jeremy Lin (which is slowly becoming the main negative trait of Lin thus far). Shumpert guarded Calderon in the fourth, and Calderon didn’t score a single point. Before Jeremy Lin’s final six points of that game, Shumpert pick-pocketed Calderon at half court and took the ball in for a dunk. Then, on Monday against the Nets, Shumpert’s value to the Knicks was proven when Deron Williams went totally off, with nobody on the Knicks able to shut him down with Shumpert injured. He’s the Knicks’ best on the ball defender, and Lin’s surge has allowed him to slide into a tailor-made role.
SB Nation New York Bottom 5
1. DeShawn Stevenson, Nets
Under most circumstances, Stevenson wouldn’t be putting in 25+ minutes a game, but the Nets injury situation has forced head coach Avery Johnson’s hand. In addition to averaging a whopping 3.8 points per game, the veteran also committed a silly flagrant foul late against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday that threw a wrench into the Nets comeback attempt.
2. Amare Stoudemire, Knicks
This was Stoudemire’s first week back since the death of his brother, which caused him to miss about a week’s worth of action, but Stoudemire just hasn’t looked the same all year, and he had a rough week. his best performance (26 and 12) came in a home loss against New Orleans, and he continues to struggle on his usually reliable mid-range jumpshot. Stoudemire is still acclimating himself back into the lineup, but it has been a down year so far on all accounts for the All-Star.
3. Johan Petro, Nets
In the first game back for Lopez, Petro only logged two minutes of action. Don’t worry, he still managed to miss a shot and turn the ball over in that time. If the Nets can keep their center healthy, that should mean the end of Petro playing many meaningful minutes the rest of the way
4. Sundiata Gaines, Nets
He had 11 points and seven assists in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, but few moments worth mentioning beyond that. With Deron Williams sitting against the Knicks due to fouls, Gaines missed two jumpers, one free throw, turned the ball over once and had a shot clock violation in the final four minutes of the game.
5. Toney Douglas
Will Toney Douglas ever suit up for the Knicks again? Fair question. With Baron Davis coming back from injury, the Knicks signing J.R. Smith and all the Linsanity, it’s certainly possible Douglas will be shipped out of town soon.
Below is where the Knicks and Nets rank in the latest SBNation NBA Power Rankings:
7. New York Knicks: The Knicks saw their streak end, but began an important, telling stretch on the right foot in beating Dallas on national TV on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony could return Monday against the Nets, then the Knicks go back-to-back against the Hawks and Heat before the All-Star break. New York would love to catch the Hawks in the standings, and a national TV win over the Heat before the break would be one helluva statement.
27. New Jersey Nets: Brook Lopez in his return: 28 minutes, two rebounds. Didn’t miss a beat.
The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets had very different weeks. The Nets lost three straight, including two to the Detroit Pistons as they continued to be hit by non-stop injuries. The Knicks, meanwhile, have done nothing but win.
More than just win, New York has the focus of the entire sports world thanks to Jeremy Lin. The guard had a full week of eye-popping performances and all of a sudden the Knicks are looking a lot like the team head coach Mike D'Antoni thought he would have when the season began.
It should come as no surprise Lin leads the way in our latest Power Rankings.
SB Nation New York Top 5
1. Jeremy Lin
Since our last rankings, Lin led the Knicks to three more victories, making that five in a row since he started getting serious minutes. On Wednesday against the Wizards he made a highlight reel dunk that has forever etched itself in the YouTube annals. The Linsanity hit a fever pitch on Friday night at Madison Square Garden when Lin outplayed Kobe Bryant, pouring in 38 points, putting MSG in a frenzy and leading the Knicks to an improbable win. And although the victory over the Lakers got more attention, perhaps most impressive was Lin helping the Knicks gut out and steal a victory the following night in Minnesota. It's two weeks in a row for Lin in the top spot in these rankings, and deservedly so. But what might be most compelling of all? Where he ranks here next week - with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony back in the fold.
2. Steve Novak
First off, if you would have given me two scenarios before this NBA season and asked me which one was more likely, and the two scenarios were: A) At any point this season the first two Knicks in our Power Rankings would be Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, or B) Tim Tebow would retire from football and successfully earn the Republican nomination for President and defeat Barack Obama in November, there's a really good chance that I'd pick B.
Now that that's out of the way, Novak has been perhaps the biggest on-court beneficiary of Linsanity. In the last three games since our previous rankings, Novak has scored 19, 9 and 15 points, and has shot 11-of-23 from 3-point range. He hit a clutch three late in the Knicks' comeback victory over the Timberwolves on Saturday, and he's no doubt earned a rotation spot for the rest of the season. Many are saying that his minutes will diminish when Anthony comes back, but I offer this: If Shawne Williams played a whole bunch of minutes for the Knicks last year, why can't Novak this year? Novak should get at least 10 minutes every night to see if he's on, because if he is on -- despite how shocking this may sound -- he's as good as anyone in the league from behind the arc.
It's really hard to leave Jared Jeffries, Tyson Chandler and Landry Fields off this list, but that's a testament to how good the Knicks have been since Lin took over. Lin's surge has allowed Iman Shumpert to play a much more natural shooting guard, swing man role. Shumpert is great at taking the ball to the basket, and Lin has created tons of space for the Knicks offensively, allowing Shumpert to do just that. He averaged 16 points per game in his last three and is making shots at a much more efficient rate than before.
Thanks to zero help around him, Williams has taken most of the scoring burden on himself. Averaging 25 points and more than six assists (he's average at least 10 if his teammates would stop dropping perfect passes under the basket) a game the last week, all the Nets need to do now is give him a consistent No. 2 scorer.
He's not exactly the best second option, but without much more to choose from, New Jersey has turned to the backup point guard to pick up some of the slack. Last week he continued his solid play by averaing16 points while logging just over 31 minutes per game for the short-handed Nets.
New Jersey will be much better off when Farmar never has a chance to put himself on this list.
1. Johan Petro
Nets GM Billy King has done plenty of good things since coming to New Jersey, but the terrible contract he handed out to Petro will always be a scarlet letter for him. Petro had another puzzling week. Sure, he scored 16 points in mop up duty against the Pistons on Friday, but couldn't score when the team actually needed him. In the other two games this week, Petro was doing a great job fumbling passes while scoring zero and six points.
Give Douglas credit for being professional and showing Lin tons of support, but deep down he can't be too thrilled about Linsanity. Douglas had 3 "Did Not Play - Coach's Decision" since our last rankings.
3. Bill Walker
Walker has gotten plenty of minutes recently -- 27, 31, and 24 respectively in the Knicks' last three games, but has done absolutely nothing with them, shooting 5-for-26 from the field during that span. If anyone should be nailed to the bench when the Knicks' stars return, its Walker.
For the first time this season, the Nets forward struggled for an extended stretch. Humphries failed to turn in a double-double and only pulled down double digit rebounds once. He had trouble offensively as well, with a season-low five points on Friday.
5. Shawne Williams
If the Nets ever get more than 10 healthy bodies this season - anything but a certainty - Williams will be able to cut his minutes to roughly 15 minutes instead of the nearly 25 he put in last week. He should be given credit for fighting through injuries to give his head coach much needed time on the court, but he's just not able to be effective for long stretches.
The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets waged their first battle of the season this past Saturday, and while many expected the Nets to be about where they are this season, nobody would have thought the Knicks would be right near them in the standings. But that's where the teams found themselves, fighting each other for positioning among the bottom of the Eastern Conference, on the outside of the playoff picture. Keeping with the theme of unexpectedness was the hero of Saturday's clash. Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere to drop 25 points and lead the Knicks to an improbable victory, and a loss that had the Nets shaking their heads. Since out last edition of the Power Rankings, the Knicks went 3-2, the Nets 1-4. Let the Linsanity continue.
SB Nation New York Top 5
1. Jeremy Lin - Knicks
While Lin only truly featured in two of the Knicks' five games since our last power rankings, he earned the spot by leading the Knicks to victory with two consecutive career games. He was the first point guard off the bench in Friday's loss to the Celtics, but it was Saturday in which he wowed the crowd with 25 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds. He did himself one better on Monday, leading the Knicks to victory over the Jazz with new career highs of 28 points and 8 assists. Who knows how long the Harvard guy can keep this up, but the Knicks are hoping they've found something Victor Cruz-ish in Lin.
2. Deron Williams - Nets
The Nets have only gone 1-4 since the last rankings, but Williams continues to play at a high level. Last week the point guard has averaged 23.6 points and 9.2 assists. He had costly turnovers down the stretch against the Minnesota Timberwolves and couldn't keep up with Jeremy Lin, but Williams is still the most consistent weapon on both sides of the floor the Nets have.
3. Jared Jeffries - Knicks
Amazing that a team with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler has the likes of Jeremy Lin and Jared Jeffries ahead of them in our power rankings, but they deserve the credit. In the Knicks' past two victories, Jeffries has played his best ball of the year. He will never be an offensive weapon, but his intangibles often get lost in our YouTube, SportsCenter, Blake-Griffin's-the-best-player-ever-because-he-can-dunk society. On Monday against the Jazz, Jeffries had 13 points, 8 rebounds and drew five offensive charges. against Jersey on Saturday, he nearly had a double-double, and pulled down five offensive boards. I give credit to Mike D'Antoni (this is a landmark moment for me), who defended him in his post-game comments after the Jazz game against mindless booing by the Knicks' crowd against Jeffries.
4. Anthony Morrow - Nets
He has only been active for three of the Nets games this week due to illness and the death of his Grandmother, but he made his time on the court count. Morrow poured in a career-high 42 points against the Timberwolves, including eight three pointers. New Jersey will need to see more of that sharp shooting that he's known for if they are going to turn things around before it's too late.
5. Tyson Chandler - Knicks
Chandler's becoming a mainstay in the Top 5, and it's because of his consistency. Chandler's only double-double of the week came in a loss to the Celtics, but his defense has helped the Knicks turn their unit around. Aside from giving up 105 points in a close loss to the Bulls, the Knicks gave up 86, 91, 91 and 88 points in their other games of the week. On Monday against the Jazz, Chandler played just 22 minutes because of foul trouble, but was an incredibly impressive +18 with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. That's making an impact.
SB Nation New York Bottom Five
1. Johan Petro - Nets
Want to add some fun to the next Nets game you watch? Take a drink every time Petro costs Williams or Farmar an assist by fumbling a perfect pass in the post. Injuries are keeping him in the rotation, but once New Jersey gets a few warm bodies back, Petro will stay on the bench.
2. Shawne Williams - Nets
Williams has been fighting through injuries to get himself out on the court and it's clear he just can't play at a high level. The former Knick averaged 6.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 32 minutes last week. He will be a much better rotation player when the team is back to full strength.
3. Iman Shumpert - Knicks
Shumpert has cooled down considerably from his hot start. He's still finding ways to be involved by rebounding and dishing out a decent amount of assists, but his shooting numbers are very low. He needs to improve his shot selection and simply needs to make more of his attempts for the Knicks to consistently turn things around, given the minutes he gets.
4. Shelden Williams - Nets
It wasn't the best week for "The Landlord", averaging just three points and 5.6 rebound. Williams didn't quite have the sort of impact he has had most of the season for the Nets, doing the dirty work.
5. Toney Douglas - Knicks
Douglas has become a total afterthought on the Knicks right now, and with the emergence of Lin and the impending return of Baron Davis, you have to wonder where Douglas fits on the team if at all. In the Knicks' five games since our last rankings, Douglas averaged 11.8 minutes per game.
While both the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks have yet to find themselves this lockout-shortened season, we have keep finding out more about each team and it's reflected in the latest installment of the SB Nation New York NBA Power Rankings.
The New York Knicks continued to struggle in all facets of the game with their stars failing to shine and the team as a whole showing they desperately need some sort of consistent point guard play if they hope to turn things around.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Nets started to put wins on the board, but are left with even more questions than they had thanks to an injury to standout rookie MarShon Brooks. Their ability to rebound from yet another devastating injury will ultimately tell the tale of their 2011-12 season.
Once again, there is quite the shakeup in both the Top Five and Bottom Five this week.
SB Nation New York Top Five
Behold the power of the blue head band! Ever since scoring 34 points in an upset victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, Williams has made the accessory his favorite item and led the Nets to a 2-1 record since the last batch of rankings. He's shown more and more as the season has gone on why Mikhail Prokhorov and Billy King want him to be the face of the franchise for years to come.
With the injuries continuing to mount throughout the roster, Humphries has continued to play Robin to Williams' Batman. In the two New Jersey wins last week, Humphries averaged 15.5 points and 15 rebounds. Those numbers are impressive alone, but even more so when you figure the most help he is receiving in the front court is from Shelden Williams.
It's about time Fields showed a pulse. The second year man has started to finally turn his game around as of late (aside from putting up a goose egg on Saturday against the Rockets). Fields has started to stuff the stat sheet the way he did most of last season, as last week he had an 18 point, 4 rebound 5 assist performance against the Bobcats (the Knicks' lone win in their past 10 games) and a 14-7-5 on Friday at Miami.
Chandler continues to do what the Knicks brought him here to do, and he's also earned this spot because he seems to be one of the only guys on the team who is visibly upset by the recent slide. Chandler dominated the paint against his former team the Bobcats (20 pts., 17 rebs.) and had another double-double in Houston.
5. Amar'e Stoudemire
While things still aren't totally right with STAT, his shooting numbers seem to be turning the corner a bit. He was over 50 percent twice last week in four games and also had 19 points and 14 rebounds in the loss to the Cavaliers. Of course, his worst shooting performance of the week came against the Miami Heat (5-of-14, 12 points), but when you've won just once in your last 10 games, pickings are slim for a Top 5.
1. Bill Walker
If the Knicks were coached by anyone else other than Mike D'Antoni, I think Billy Walker would be hearing about his poor shot selection. And he should. Yes, he made seven of his 10 three pointers against the Heat last Friday, and his makes kept the Knicks from getting blown out. But that doesn't mean his shot selection is any good, and he's wildly inconsistent. He put up 21 points against the Heat, and a combined 12 in the Knicks' three other games last week.
2. MarShon Brooks
Landing here isn't due to anything he did on the basketball court last week, but rather because of his inability to stay there. After being sidelined with an Achilles issues, Brooks was knocked out indefinitely by a broken pinky toe. He has been the most impressive rookie in the NBA this season outside of Kyrie Irving, but he needs to stay on the court before we start counting him among the Nets better assets for the move to Brooklyn
Assists in the Knicks' four games last week for Shumpert: 8. Turnovers: 10. Eleven makes in 37 field goal attempts. You love Shumpert's athleticism, aggressiveness and effort on defense, but the rookie's production right now is sorely lacking.
This is where things get dicey. A lot of people are quick to blame Anthony for the Knicks' woes this season. It's no secret that the big trade, thus far, hasn't quite worked. I just can't yet believe that it's Anthony's fault. Mike D'Antoni, a supposed offensive genius, has had plenty of time to craft an offense that would play to Anthony's strengths and he hasn't been able to do it. A lot of people are mad at Anthony for sitting out the Knicks' past two games, especially the marquee matchup against the Heat. It's reasonable to say that he should have sat out the two prior games and positioned himself to play against Miami, but that's very easy to say right now. We don't know how Anthony is feeling, and you have to admire him for giving it a go these past few weeks when his game has clearly been affected by his myriad of injuries.
Yes, Anthony has been bad this season, but it's also not his fault that the Knicks' depth is so disastrously bad. They did have to give up a lot to get him from Denver, but you don't see the Miami Heat, with three max contract players on its roster, with the same depth issues. The problem runs a lot deeper than Anthony. Nobody seems to be talking about how ludicrous it is that D'Antoni is still with the franchise while the architect of the clean-up job, Donnie Walsh, is not. That of course is on owner James Dolan, and that's a problem that's not going away any time soon.
Don't get me wrong, Anthony had been sub-par this season, and that's why he finds himself in the Bottom 5. But he doesn't deserve all of the blame for the team's 7-13 record.
5. Johan Petro
He sat out the Nets impressive win over the Sixers and then averaged a whopping five points and three rebounds in New Jersey's other two games of the week. While Avery Johnson attempts to find answers in the front court with Brook Lopez and Mehmet Okur both out, Petro continues to disappoint.
Since our last edition of the SBNation New York Power Rankings, the New Jersey Nets have started to play a bit better while the New York Knicks have fallen into a crisis. Basketball in the New York area is unfortunately resembling what it did from, say, 2007-2010 when both the Knicks and Nets were among the worst teams in the sport. Last week though, Jersey went 2-1, posting wins over Golden State and Charlotte (with a loss to Oklahoma City sandwiched in), and the Knicks…well, did we say they’re in a crisis? They’ve lost six in a row in total — the final three coming since we put out our last power rankings.
SBNation New York Top Five
1. Deron Williams, Nets
It’s no surprise the Nets started to play better when the elite version of Williams showed up. Playing through a rib injury he suffered the beginning of the month, the point guard has looked unstoppable at times, averaging 19 points, nearly 9 assists and 7 rebounds since the last rankings. New Jersey is 2-1 over that time.
2. MarShon Brooks, Nets
The explosive scorer continues to impress as he pushes his name to the top of the Rookie of the Year discussions. The last three games Brooks is averaging a shade below 19 points per game, including a team-high 22 in a win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. After recovering from an ankle injury, Brooks is now dealing with an achilles issue, so durability could be something to keep an eye on as the season drags on.
3. Jordan Farmar, Nets
Talk about finding your way out of the dog house. Farmar started the season on the bench and has worked his way back to being one of the first players off the bench. Over the last week the backup point guard had 11 assists to just four turnovers, numbers that will keep him in head coach Avery Johnson’s good graces.
4. Kris Humphries, Nets
The Hump keeps doing what he does, and posted three double-doubles in a row last week for the Nets. He grabbed a total of 41 rebounds in the three contests and continues to lead the team in the category with 10.3 per game.
5. Tyson Chandler, Knicks
You can’t fault Chandler for the Knicks’ woes. He’s continued to do fairly well what the team brought him here for, defend, rebound and block shots. It’s not his fault that the team is employing a defensive system that switches on every screen, giving him mismatches against players like Steve Nash and Danilo Gallinari (and he’s done okay in those spots, too). Despite the poor team results, Chandler still managed to grab double digits in rebounds in each of the Knicks’ three games.
SB Nation New York Bottom Five
1. Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
If you just look at points and rebounds, Anthony has done alright this season. However, his shooting has been woefully bad, and he deserves to be here this week because he’s the leader of a team that’s 6-10 against a soft schedule and looks like it’s never played together. Anthony had a great fourth quarter against Denver to help get the game to overtime, but his total shooting numbers? Ten-of-30 just isn’t going to cut it when you’re the main man on Broadway. Plus, his ejection last Friday against Milwaukee was unacceptable.
2. Amare Stoudemire, Knicks
The same can be said for Stoudemire as it was for Anthony. Amare simply needs to be more aggressive and assertive. At some point, either Stoudemire or Anthony needs to say “Enough is enough, I’m going to win this game for us”. Both have done that in the past, both are capable. Yet neither has done it yet.
3. Toney Douglas, Knicks
In our Knicks season preview, we said that Douglas was the Knicks’ X Factor. While his failure so far this year isn’t the reason the team is in shambles, but it certainly hasn’t helped. His poor play has him coming off the bench now, but that’s where he’s thrived in the past. Not so this year.
4. DeShawn Stevenson, Nets
A sore knee continues to limit Stevenson, though he remains in the the starting lineup… for now. It’s hard to imagine a guard that can’t score, rebound or do much of anything else sticking in the rotation with a bum knee once the rest of the players on the roster start to get healthy.
5. Johan Petro, Nets
The center has taken the opposite route of Farmar, going from rotation player to bench warmer. The last week he played all of 8eight minutes while collecting two DNP – CDs.
Here’s where SBNation’s latest NBA Power Rankings have the Knicks and Nets:
23. New York Knicks: This is just sad. I mean, they are actually excited about Baron Davis! Poor rims.
24. New Jersey Nets: I, for one, am loving this epic power struggle for the hearts and minds of New York between the Knicks and Nets. Oh, wait …
As you can see, things can only go up for New York Metro area basketball. Hopefully it does, and soon.
In the season-long battle to grab onto the top spot and avoid the Bottom Five, neither team wanted to put their best foot forward. Both teams were an uninspiring 1-3 since we last met here last week.
The movement here shows how quickly things can change in the greatest city in the world.
SB Nation New York Top Five
How does a player who missed a game and a half last week top the Power Rankings? Pretty simply, the Knicks showed that they're pretty much an uncompetitive team without 'Melo. He led the Knicks in points (27) and assists (5) in their impressive win over the 76ers on Wednesday, and was the Knicks' best player on Thursday in Memphis before leaving the game with a sprained ankle. With him totally absent against the Thunder on Saturday? The Knicks were totally outclassed.
2. MarShon Brooks
The Nets may have had a miserable West Coast road trip, but it had nothing to do with the play of their impressive rookie. Still recovering from an ankle injury, Brooks averaged 15 points a game, including a team-high 19 against the Los Angeles Clippers Monday.
He's not firing on all cylinders yet, but Williams is getting a lot closer. To dig the Nets out of their early season snooze, he will need to live up to his All-NBA reputation the way he did against the Phoenix Suns Friday when he dropped 35 points and dished out 14 assists.
Chandler had a breakout game last Monday in the Knicks' victory over the Bobcats, scoring 20 points and pulling down 13 boards. He had another 13 rebound effort in the win over the Sixers, despite only having three points in the game.
Though he escaped being booed in Utah as the Jazz fans concentrated their efforts on Williams, Humphries felt the wrath in every other game last week. All he did was respond with nearly 15 points and 8 rebounds while shooting an amazing 69 percent from the floor.
The rook has shows some moments of brilliance, but Thursday's epic disaster against the Grizzlies was not one of them. Shumpert missed, missed, missed and missed some more, and didn't seem to realize that simply chucking the ball at the hoop doesn't guarantee that it's, you know, going in. You love his aggressiveness but when he's off and is dribbling into turnovers, he has to recognize and scale it back.
He was quickly headed for the Top Five after finding his shooting stroke on the way to 23 and 12 points, but then disappeared against the Jazz and Clippers. With New Jersey desperately needing a three late in the game Monday, Morrow found himself nailed to the bench.
3. Amar'e Stoudemire
It's just been a terrible season for Stoudemire. His shooting percentages are down and he's having trouble getting any easy baskets. That's probably because the Knicks lack a floor general, and it's become clear that Stoudemire needs one to be effective. That's not what you want out of a max contact player, but with more weeks like last by Stoudemire, it's becoming increasingly apparent.
The flagrant foul he dropped on Blake Griffin Monday night was pretty sweet, but it isn't enough to erase his play on the court. He made exactly one field goal on the last three games after sitting two due to a sore knee.
It just isn't getting any better for the second year man. When Baron Davis comes back, will there be any minutes for him?
Where do the Knicks and Nets rank as a team in the latest SB Nation NBA Power Rankings?
22. New York Knicks
The Knicks' efficiency differential is so bad -- just -0.6 points per 100 possessions. But the fact that it's come against one of the very softest schedules in the league is frightening. What happened to this offense? It scored 83, 85, 91 and 92 points last week.
26. New Jersey Nets
Deron Williams, though still shooting poorly, is coming around this season. If only the team has one more player -- just one -- who belonged in an NBA starting lineup.