Mike D’Antoni has the deepest rotation since he began coaching the Knicks, sometimes going with as many as 10 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. Wilson Chandler. The Knicks might not be offering him a contract extension, but Wil has been the team’s best player so far, posting an incredibly impressive 21 ppg, 10 rpg and 3 bpg line. He hasn’t started a game yet and isn’t likely to for a while, but boy, has he been big for them in every way. He’s had a tendency to fade late, but the guy the Knicks have been touting as a core piece for three years now is finally showing why. Sure, Chandler probably shouldn’t be the team’s top rebounder, but without him, they’d be 0-3 rather than 1-2.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire. Stoudemire certainly hasn’t been disappointing, and perhaps most impressive has been how he has embraced the role of the team’s leader. His clutch buckets late in the win over Toronto were what the Knicks have been missing for so long: A guy you can count on earning tough buckets when you most desperately need them. The turnovers are a big problem so far – he’s averaging just under six a game – and a lot of that is because he’s receiving the ball too far out on the perimeter. (Dribbling is not one of Amare’s top-shelf skills.) He doesn’t have as much chemistry with point guard Raymond Felton yet, but a lot of that is because someone is supposed to be out at the 3-point line as a trey-draining option, but that person is all mopey and morose and off. But we’ll get to the Italian in a bit. On the whole: Amar’e has done little to dampen enthusiasm; the arena just feels different when he’s on the floor.
3. Landry Fields. Fair to say, Darington Hobson, Terrico White and Nemanja Bjelica, the three men draft just ahead of Fields and Andy Rautins by the Knicks in the second round, aren’t exactly in their team’s top three right now. Fields has been a revelation, a cerebral player who’s always in the right spot, always playing better defense than anyone would have thought and always hitting 3-pointers in a fashion no one expected. He’s not inherently athletic – he could use a bit more beef, as well – but he’s smart and a legitimate joy to watch. If he’s in the No. 3 spot all year, the Knicks aren’t going to the playoffs, but the Knicks have a clear find who provides a sense of calm when he’s on the court that’s utterly shocking for a rookie. He may start all season.
4. Raymond Felton. He hasn’t developed the chemistry with Amar’e that you might like, but worries that he’d be out-of-shape were unfounded: He looks fast, quick and slippery. He leads the team in minutes so far, and he’s shown a nifty ability to drive the lane that surprised us. The difference between him and Chris Duhon is simply staggering. He’s not Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but the Knicks have an actual NBA point guard now, thank heavens.
5. Ronny Turiaf. He’s averaging one shot every 10 minutes, and he’s a terrible free throw shooter, which just killed the Knicks against Portland. But he’s an adequate defender, a clear favorite among his teammates and is a center who can actually stay on the floor, unlike Comrade Mozgov. (Though the Russian is improving.) And he’s the one player on the Knicks we can imagine hanging out with.
6. Toney Douglas. He has clearly taken control of the “backup guard” position, and is one of five Knicks averaging double figures in points so far. He’s been playing more at the 2 than the 1, though that’s less because of his own failings and more because Felton has been fine and the other shooting guards have been decidedly less so.
7. Danilo Gallinari. It’s the wrist, right? Tell us it’s the wrist. The Rooster has been wretched so far: He’s 5-for-24 from the field, 2-for-11 from the 3-point line and looks like someone kicked his dog right before he came on the court. He claims it’s not the wrist, but he better be lying, because if he doesn’t snap out of it, a player some were projecting to be an All-Star (and a potential Carmelo trade chip) will have suffered a nearly unprecedented regression. We’re hopefully he’s just in a slump, a funk. C’mon, Danilo: Smile! We love you here! Come back!
8. Timofey Mozgov. He’s improving! Starting him all three games is more a confidence-boosting move than an actual admission of importance, but you can see Mozgov understanding a little bit more each game. He’s still not getting that many minutes, and he’s still picking up fouls at a one-every-minute-and-a-half pace, but you can see light bulbs come on each game, particularly on the defensive end. Still: Right now, Mozgov fouls are leading Mozgov points 9-5.
9. Bill Walker. Actually playing better, and he went on a little run in the fourth quarter against Portland to give the Knicks a lead they would quickly relinquish. Thinner this year, it’d be nice to see him drive the lane a bit more.
10. Roger Mason, Jr. The former Spur is here because he’s a 3-point specialist … and that’s about it. So far,, he’s 0-for-4 from the field and only has one point, which he hit after a technical. He looks incapable of adding much else, so he better find his shot, or he’ll be cut by the time Kelenna Azubuike returns.
11. Andy Rautins. The ‘Cuse product has yet to make it into a game. He’s an avid cheerer, though.
12. Shawne Williams. He’s still on the team! He hasn’t hit the floor yet, and once Anthony Randolph returns, perhaps as early as this week, he might hit the D-League again.
89. Eddy Curry. When you’re on the team but not allowed to be introduced in the home opener, well, maybe you just have to eat to hide the pain.
(Injured: Kelenna Azubuike, Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph.)