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.)