Mike D'Antoni has the deepest rotation since he began coaching the Knicks, sometimes going with as many as ten players in the first quarter. The rotation, and the players' performances, are forever changing. As part of our Knicks coverage all season, taking a note from Mark Lisanti's "Mad Men Power Rankings," we'll be tracking each player every Tuesday. Come with us for the Knicks Power Rankings!
1. Amar'e Stoudemire. (Last week: 1.) What much more can you say about STAT right now? If he can score over 30 points in the next two games against Toronto and at Washington, he will tie the team record for most consecutive games over 30. (The record holder: the theoretically immortal Willie Naulls, from 1962.) Even more impressive, he's taking games over in the fourth quarter in a way you usually don't see from a power forward type. When the Knicks need the clinching last couple of buckets late, Amar'e just hoses down there and gets them, or gets fouled. There are still always concerns about his knees. He's probably playing too many minutes. It'd be nice to have a meaty fellow off the bench to come out and knock people around, softening matters up. But there can be zero complaints about Amar'e Stoudemire so far. This is an all-NBA player right now. This is what a superstar looks like, folks.
2. Raymond Felton. (Last week: 3.) All the national "whoa, the Knicks are good" stories hit this week, and the focus of almost all of them has been Felton's dramatic improvement. (ESPN's John Hollinger called him "absolutely bonkers.") He's hit double figures in assists his last three games, and his improvement on the pick-and-roll is so profound that it's strange to think it was ever a problem at all. He's probably playing too many minutes, and he's due for a stinker of a game here in the next few weeks, but his free-agent deal this off-season looks like a heist.
3. Landry Fields. (Last week: 2.) The Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month — suck it, Wall! — has slowed down his scoring, but his rebounding continues to be a revelation, bringing down ten each of the last two games. You'd like to see his shot falling a little bit more, but the Knicks have their very own Shane Battier. Michael Lewis would be so happy. Alan Hahn of Newsday points out that Fields has been the Knicks' most efficient player.
4. Wilson Chandler. (Last week: 5.) The Knicks are rumored to be interested in Oklahoma City's Jeff Green, but they've got a Green clone, except maybe a little better, in Chandler, who's back in the starting lineup and looking mighty fine. He's still not pulling down as many rebounds as you'd like, but he's providing some meat on defense (unless he's playing Minnesota) and has started hitting three-pointers again (five in his last two games). He is also the last good basketball player who will ever come out of DePaul.
5. Danilo Gallinari. (Last week: 4.) The Rooster has started driving more, but it's still the three-pointer that makes it happen for him. His trey late in the Timberwolves game clinched that win. On defense, he's making his legs move a little faster than they used to. That sounded different than what we meant. Update on our favorite stat, by the way: In games in which Gallinari hits more than one three-pointer, the Knicks are 12–3. When he hits one or none, they're 1–6.
6. Ronny Turiaf. (Last week: 6.) We bet coach Mike D'Antoni keeps bringing him off the bench for a while. It eases the pressures on that banged-up left knee, but mostly: It works. Turiaf's the ultimate bench spark; he doesn't score in bunches (or much at all), but he's a defensive presence (loved his T-Wolves block) and is essentially the team mascot at this point. Plus: He is quite easily appalled.
7. Toney Douglas. (Last week: 7.) He's probably playing more point than he should, but he's back hitting shots again; he hasn't had one of those signature Toney duds in a week and a half. He's earning his minutes on perimeter defense, though.
8. Shawne Williams. (Last week: 12.) Well, HELLO THERE! The guy doesn't get into a game for a month, and then he shows up and just starts draining three-pointers. Williams is 10-of-12 from long range this season, which is better than how every other human shoots layups. He's also found himself in the game late, too, taking the Bill Walker–Danilo Gallinari–Roger Mason Jr. shots. Williams has been so good you wonder if D'Antoni has a stash of bombers just mulling around the practice facilities, on call, when beckoned.
9. Timofey Mozgov. (Last week: 9.) This:
And little else, so far. Points are up barely, 53–48, over fouls. But man, that dunk was awesome.
10. Bill Walker. (Last week: 8.) Shawne Williams has stolen the man's playing time: Walker has been in the game for four minutes this month. And now the Knicks are looking into trading him. To think, he was once a LeBron James selling point.
11. Anthony Randolph. (Last week: 10.) We can't really get down on Walker too much, because Randolph hasn't played this month at all. Though after the Shawne Williams Explosion, we can't help but think Randolph is gonna show up in February and just tear people apart. But we're probably just kidding ourselves.
12. Roger Mason Jr. (Last week: 11.) It's hard to believe this guy once started 71 games in a season for the Spurs, isn't it?
13. Andy Rautins. (Last week: 13.) He's actually getting fewer minutes than look-alike J.E. Skeets these days. Still: 'CUUUUUSE!