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.