Mike D’Antoni has shortened his rotation, but still: This is the deepest team he’s had since he began coaching the Knicks. 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.) So here’s a trivia question for you: Who’s the last Knick to finish in the top ten of MVP voting? Take your time … it’s a blog post, we’ve got all day, we’ll just sit here … Okay, give up? The answer, as you probably knew, was Patrick Ewing, in the 1997–98 season. He finished eighth. He is also the last Knick to receive so much as one MVP vote. Barring injury — always a possibility, of course — Amar’e Stoudemire’s going to break that streak with ease right now. (Though Basketball Reference disagrees.) He now owns the team record for most 30-point games in a row, which is good, because we have a feeling that streak’s going to end tomorrow against Boston. He’s third in the league in scoring and has been such a fourth-quarter force that you almost wonder if Steve Nash was holding him back. (Almost.)
2. Wilson Chandler. (Last week: 4.) An outstanding week for Mr. Chandler, capped off by a thrilling 27-point game in the win over Denver. The key to his resurgence this week was his three-point shooting: He was 9-for-18 on the week. His prowess from beyond the arc has not gone unnoticed. Rob Mahoney, for the Times’s Off the Dribble blog, wrote a terrific piece about the tiny adjustments Chandler has made in his game. The key, as Chandler puts it, has been “attacking defenses oriented to stop Stoudemire and [Raymond] Felton.” Basically, Chandler is thriving as the reminder of an unsolvable division problem. Whatever works.
3. Raymond Felton. (Last week: 2.) Felton was due for some off-shooting games, and he had a couple this week, going 12-for-29 from the field, 2-for-8 from the three-point line, in the last two games. But who cares?! He had seventeen assists in the Denver game and was pretty much everywhere, hitting everyone with the right passes at the right angles at every opportunity. He’s fifth in the NBA in assists — ahead of Steve Nash, by the way — and fifth in steals. The only bad stat? He’s third in minutes, which is why a backup point guard (which is not what Toney Douglas is) could come in handy.
4. Landry Fields. (Last week: 3.) ESPN’s David Thorpe, a guy who we love to talk to, has raised Landry to second in his rookie rankings (subscription required), behind only the Clippers’ Blake Griffin. That would make him the best player so far out of last year’s draft class, which is impressive considering he was the 39th man picked. Here’s what Thorpe says: “The great thing about Fields is his ability to contribute to his team’s offensive game without making 3s. For instance, on his cuts to the rim, he uses patience when necessary, slowing down in the paint to give his teammate an extra second to find him. And he is a creative finisher, someone who’s practiced tough shots around the rim thousands of times.” By the way, just to remind, here’s what ESPN’s Chad Ford said about Fields after the draft last year: “Drafting Fields is puzzling. Yes, he’s a great athlete who was one of the best scorers in the Pac-10 last season. But he was not ranked in our top 100 and I couldn’t find another scout who had him in the top 60.”
5. Danilo Gallinari. (Last week: 5.) We could talk about Danilo’s game this week, about how he showed spirit and some good old-fashioned orneriness in his battle with Carmelo Anthony this week, or how the Knicks’ record is now 14–3 when he hits more than one three-pointer and 2–6 when he doesn’t … but really, we just can’t get past this whole Michelle Trachtenberg thing.
6. Toney Douglas. (Last week: 7.) Considering how much D’Antoni has tightened his rotation, it’s to Douglas’s eternal credit that he’s still hanging around. But if he’s gonna remain part of a seven-man rotation, he needs to improve his passing skills (that Washington game was a nice start), because someone needs to give Felton more time off, and right now, Douglas isn’t doing that.
7. Ronny Turiaf. (Last week: 6.) We got to see Ronny’s fiery side in the Nuggets’ win — how can a man so jolly get so angry? — but we didn’t see his effective side: The Knicks were actually -13 points when he was on the floor. We would also love to see him develop a little bit more of a jump shot. We are not holding our breath. We still love him.
8. Shawne Williams. (Last week: 8.) The bloom’s off a bit: After a crazy 10-for-12 from three-point range stretch to start the year, he didn’t score a point all week. You would think that would drop him in these ratings. But D’Antoni has really shortened his rotation.
9. Bill Walker. (Last week: 10.) Sunday, D’Antoni let him run around the court for two minutes, 40 seconds, his first playing time in a week and a half. He didn’t shoot, rebound, or foul anyone. But he did get to run around. That’s more than we can say for …
10. Timofey Mozgov. (Last week: 9.) Whoa, now: Comrade Mozgov got his first and second DNP-Coach’s Decisions of his career this week, never getting off the bench against Toronto or Denver. Considering how many big men Boston will have to knock him around — someone has to hack Shaq, after all — you have to think he’ll get some minutes this week, but the Knicks needs Mozgov to wake up. His pine time isn’t a complete waste, though: Other than Turiaf, he’s our favorite Knick to watch watch the game.
11. Anthony Randolph. (Last week: 11.) He still hasn’t played since November. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him unleashed Friday against Miami, though, just because he’s so weird and unlike any other player in the NBA that maybe everyone will get confused. That, or, we dunno, maybe someone should at least consider the D-League?
12. Roger Mason Jr. (Last week: 12.) He is on the active roster. Thus, he’s here. Unlike:
13. Andy Rautins. (Last week: 13.) Just to be mean, the Knicks declared him inactive for the first time all season the night his father was in town to call the Raptors game. That’s just mean.
(Injured: Kelenna Azubuike, Eddy Curry.)