Mike D’Antoni has shortened his rotation, but 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) It was a week to end lots of streaks, and even though the Knicks’ win streak was more painful, Stoudemire’s team-record streak of 30-plus games, ended against the Heat, was the more historically significant. What was most worrisome about the losses to Miami and Cleveland — less so in the Boston game — was that the Knicks’ offense started to look like it did in the dregs of November, with Amar’e not breaking to the hoop and the pick-and-roll not working. Stoudemire’s neck is sore, but mostly, he’s just exhausted; he has carried the team for two months now, coming in seventh in minutes in the NBA (Raymond Felton is first), and he looked like he had dead legs against Cleveland. Perhaps even more concerning: Opposing teams might have finally figured out how to defend him. Uh-oh.
2. Raymond Felton. (Last week: 3) Felton had a nice line against the Cavs (23 points, eleven assists), but when the pick-and-roll isn’t working, he’s not the point guard savior we’d all been pretending he was. He also has an increasingly frustrating tendency to try to prove he’s a Mike D’Antoni point guard by chucking up off-balance three-pointers early in the shot clock, like he’s Steve Nash. He’s not. But all told: He’s probably just entirely lacking energy right now. He’s averaging six minutes more per game than he did last year. He needs help, badly.
3. Wilson Chandler. (Last week: 2) He has now started every game for almost a month, and nicely as he has played, it’s beginning to look like he might — like everybody else in the rotation — be a bit overexposed and overstretched. He played 41.5 minutes against Cleveland, but his line was unimpressive: thirteen points, four rebounds, three assists. That is not going to get it done. But until D’Antoni starts to trust his bench, the Knicks may have no choice.
4. Landry Fields. (Last week: 4) It’s funny, because someone pointed out earlier this week that Fields is basically Jared Jeffries with a better jump shot and more athleticism. That’s a compliment, of course. When the Knicks are winning, Fields is like Shane Battier. When they lose, though, he’s just Jared Jeffries. A useful part on a team that’s not winning isn’t useful enough. Pretty cool that Spike’s wearing his jersey, though.
5. Danilo Gallinari. (Last week: 5) We loved him against Denver, and we loved him even more in the first half against Miami, before the Heat woke up and said, “Wait, we can totally stop these guys from scoring,” and then they did. But man, that Cleveland game: 3-for-14 from the field, 1-for-10 from three-point range. YIPES. How’s our favorite stat doing? The Knicks are 14–4 when he hits more than one three-pointer, and 2–8 when he doesn’t.
6. Shawne Williams. (Last week: 8) Yeah, see, here’s a problem. Williams was probably the Knicks’ best player outside the top two against Cleveland, and he’s been a nice surprise, and we’re proud he has overcome so many of his demons. But if he’s the top player off the bench — and for the last week, he has been — there are serious problems.
7. Ronny Turiaf. (Last week: 7) Turiaf’s minutes are dropping, and now it even looks like he might be trade bait. (The Magic wants to trade Chris Duhon for him. Chris Duhon!) But he didn’t drop in the rankings because …
8. Toney Douglas. (Last week: 6) Not a good time to DWTDD. He has a sore back and now a shoulder injury, but the low point of his season was that Cavs game, going 3-for-11 from the field and dealing out zero assists. Zero. That drew the ire of Stoudemire, who groused to Felton and Chandler, wondering “aloud how someone can play twenty-plus minutes and have ‘no dimes.’” The Knicks are considering bringing in Sebastian Telfair. As we said: not a good time to DWTDD. We remind you, by the way: Toney Douglas is older than Danilo Gallinari.
9. Bill Walker. (Last week: 9) We have reached the point of the roster where D’Antoni puts guys in only during blowouts. This has always been D’Antoni’s modus operandi, but still: It’s making the starters exhausted, and the team is losing. Walker might not be the guy to give more minutes to, though. May we suggest, at last …
10. Anthony Randolph. (Last week: 11) He actually scored in his 2:56 against Miami, though he sat for the Cavaliers game. At this point, we have to assume that he’s spending practices — considering D’Antoni always notes what Randolph does in practice as the reason he’s sitting him — setting fire to rabbits. The Knicks need an off-the-bench spark and some size down low. They have Randolph right there. What is going on? It must be the rabbits.
11. Timofey Mozgov. (Last week: 10) It’s really starting to look like Comrade Mozgov just isn’t an NBA-caliber player. 55–49 in the points-to-fouls contest, by the way.
12. Roger Mason Jr. (Last week: 12) He didn’t even get in at the end of the Heat blowout. He does get to wear his uniform, though, unlike …
13. Andy Rautins. (Last week: 13) Looks sharp in a suit.
(Injured: Kelenna Azubuike, Eddy Curry.)