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.