As the season progresses, Mike D’Antoni manages to maintain a short but ever-evolving rotation. 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) The well-rested Knicks simply didn’t need too much from Stoudemire this week. New York won a pair of tough games against Oklahoma City and Chicago without leaning on their big man as heavily as they did during that massive win streak. Amar’e still managed to lead the team’s offense, but did so without ever attempting twenty shots or going on one of his quarter-long scoring rampages. He picked his spots, moved the ball a little, and even shared some with the opposition (twelve turnovers in two games). The defensive end is where Stoudemire made most of his highlights, recording three savage blocks against the Thunder and tying his season-high with six more versus the Bulls. He’s no lockdown defender, but Amar’e’s combination of speed, timing, and violence in the open court is positively LeBron-esque. Just ask Derrick Rose. (Seriously, watch how smoothly Stoudemire switches shoulders and launches in that video. He manages to turn 360 degrees while keeping Rose in his crosshairs, then meets him at the absolute apex of his shot. It’s balletic.)
2. Landry Fields. (Last week: 4) Fields had one of his Landriest weeks in some time, posting a pair of efficient double-doubles. It’s still amazing that a flush line of fourteen points, ten rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block against the Thunder fails to capture Landry’s impact. They’re going to need to invent new stats — perfect cuts per game, jumper effectiveness-to-attractiveness ratio, swoons generated per 48 minutes — to fully describe the Landry Fields experience. He’s that majestic. Here’s your “Landry Fields is insanely athletic and also so smart and sometimes I wish I was him even though his name sounds like that of a horse-racing venue” moment of the week.
3. Raymond Felton. (Last week: 2) Felton’s outside shot betrayed him until late in the Chicago game, but he’s the streaking-est Knick at the moment, with six consecutive games of double-digit assists in his wake. In eleven December games, Felton has fallen short of ten dimes only twice. He also nabbed five steals on Saturday, which was neat. Thirty games in, Felton’s shooting numbers (45 percent from the field, 36 percent from downtown, 58 percent true shooting percentage) are still at or near career highs, and he’s eighth in the league in double-doubles (right behind Amar’e). Somehow, the first All-Star balloting returns didn’t even include his name. That should either spur you into action or turn you off to the All-Star voting process entirely, depending on your constitution. As long as you’re disgusted, we’re cool.
4. Wilson Chandler. (Last week: 3) Chandler and Danilo Gallinari were both quietly efficient in the last two games. Wil gets the edge, though, for his double-double against the Bulls and because he actually cracked a smile after a questionable foul call during Wednesday’s game, finally dispelling rumors that he is an automaton designed solely to score in transition and/or infect David Lee.
5. Danilo Gallinari. (Last week: 5) When a guy is notorious for wild oscillation between bursts of aggressive scoring and stretches of passivity, there’s something to be said for solid, even-keeled consistency. Save for two horrid single-digit outings, Gallo’s put in a decent day’s work in every December outing. For the month, he’s averaging fifteen points a game, shooting around 44 percent from the field and 40 percent from downtown, rebounding some, getting to the line here and there, passing a bit, and defending when called upon. There’s no need to rush this youngster into stardom. What we’re seeing is gradual, organic development into a reliable contributor, and that’s just the ticket for Danilo Gallinari.
6. Toney Douglas. (Last week: 8) It is a privilege and a delight to announce that Toney Douglas did what Toney Douglas do this past week. Though still nursing a sore shoulder, Pretty Toney (why that nickname never stuck is beyond me) shot better, defended nicely, and answered the call to move the rock. He recorded three assists in each of the last two games, including a handful of splendid pick-and-roll feeds to …
7. Ronny Turiaf. (Last week: 7) … this guy. Ronny and Toney (If that doesn’t rhyme for you, then you’re doing it wrong. For serious) have developed a pretty nice two-man game. Ronny and his beard (who has a Twitter, by the way) rolled effectively this week, dropping a whole eleven points on Oklahoma City. You’d like to see a little more rebounding from a man of that size (just two boards in 36 minutes over two games), but it’s hard to fault Ronny for anything because … well, because he’s Ronny Turiaf. Everything he does is wonderful.
8. Shawne Williams. (Last week: 6) In an eight-man rotation, everybody must have an impact, and “Extra E” has proven to be the most effective eighth man on the roster. He keeps draining corner threes (or, if you’re a P&T citizen, “pooping in the corner”) and continues to supplement that shooting with surprisingly active hands on defense and around the glass.
9. Timofey Mozgov. (Last week: 11) Of the bench friends who got to spin in Wednesday’s extended garbage time, Mozgov was the only one to score, dunking home an alley-oop from Raymond Felton (yes, that means Timo caught a pass).
10. Anthony Randolph. (Last week: 10) Randolph grabbed a few rebounds during the aforementioned garbage time, but he’ll remain a benchwarmer as long as D’Antoni sticks to eight men. Here’s a Christmas gift to occupy those hours on the pine: Pocket Jenga.
11. Bill Walker. (Last week: 9) Again, as long as D’Antoni rolls eight deep and Shawne Williams keeps his head on straight, Walker needn’t do too much stretching. Bill’s gift for bench fun: a mini chocolate fountain.
13. Andy Rautins. (Last week: 13) Sometimes a practical gift is the best gift. Anybody who’s watched MSG in the last few weeks knows K&G Fashion Superstore has deals on suits this time of year. My treat.
Injured: Kelenna Azubuike, Eddy Curry