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) Amar’e had 41 points against the Suns yesterday, the most he has scored as a Knick, and the most points he’s scored at all since his amazing 42-point outburst last May in a playoff win over the Lakers. (Ah, playoffs … Amar’e, wonder us with your stories of such animals.) It was hardly the most inspiring offensive performance, because Amar’e must have helped give up nearly as many points. As Seth from Posting and Toasting pointed out yesterday, Amar’e may be as bad at defending the pick-and-roll as he is good at running it. Ordinarily, Amar’e’s offensive skills more than make up for his lack of a defensive presence. But yesterday at the Garden, with even Suns fans wide open on the perimeter, his flaws were on full display. He did give the annual MLK Day pregame speech to the crowd, which was fun. That was the only fun part of the day for the Knicks.
2. Wilson Chandler. (Last week: 2) You can tell what kind of week it was for the Knicks when Chandler has three below-average games out of four and doesn’t drop in the rankings. His worst game was against Sacramento, when he went 4-for-14 from the field, though everyone was lousy that game. His three-pointers are starting not to fall, by the way: In the last three games, he has gone 4-for-19 from beyond the arc. Not good.
3. Landry Fields. (Last week: 4) Fields didn’t have an excellent week, but last week’s No. 3 had to drop a spot, so he’s the “beneficiary.” Landry’s still one of the few guys you can count on rushing the boards; he was the leading rebounder yesterday against Phoenix, which would be more impressive if the Suns weren’t the worst rebounding team in the NBA and the Suns didn’t still outrebound the Knicks 48–38. Also: Mike D’Antoni is starting to not trust Landry in the fourth quarter; he was in late yesterday only because Shawne Williams fouled out. Now there’s something no one would have thought before the season: Landry Fields subbing in for Shawne Williams in a tight game in which the Knicks desperately needed a win.
4. Raymond Felton. (Last week: 3) If you want to know why the Knicks have lost three in a row, here’s your answer. Felton collapsed this week, playing lousy on-ball defense and apparently forgetting how the fundamental act of putting the ball in the basket. Here are his shooting nights in the three losses: 6-for-15 against Utah, 2-for-15 against Sacramento (2-for-15!), 3-for-13 against Phoenix. Before last year, the biggest knock on Felton was his shooting, but then, and this year, freed up under D’Antoni, he appeared to have that part of his game under control. But when Felton is bad, he’s extremely bad. He better turn it around fast, or everyone’s going to feel awfully silly about pushing him as an All-Star candidate.
5. Shawne Williams. (Last week: 5) His once-otherworldly three-point shooting percentage has finally come to the real planet after going 0-for-6 in the last two games, but he stays at this spot because of his ridiculous game against Utah. Williams scored 25 points and was a downright criminal 7-of-8 from the three-point line, including five in the span of four minutes in the third quarter. And when the Knicks have to press, like they did late against the Suns, he’s tall and long enough to cause serious problems, the way Anthony Randolph was supposed to, before the FOR SALE was tattooed on his face (in the shape of an ice cream cone, natch). Williams, a free agent after this year, is making himself quite a bit of money this off-season, if the NBA doesn’t die then.
6. Danilo Gallinari. (Last week: injured) The Knicks missed Gallo the most against Sacramento, when they needed somebody, anybody, to put the ball in the basket. The way that game was going, though, Gallinari would have caught the same opposite-magnet bug everybody else had. He looked healthy enough against the Suns, scoring seventeen points, but isn’t back on defense yet; he had the lowest plus-minus (-13) of anyone on the team.
7. Bill Walker. (Last week: 8) Johnny Headband had a nice week. He was the only guy who could shoot in the Kings loss and had the best plus-minus in the Suns loss. Even though he’s known as a three-point shooter exclusively, he’s more athletic than people realize, and sometimes we wonder if he’s the team’s best dunker. (Non-monster Amar’e division.) He has earned his way back in the rotation after spending about a month at the end of the bench.
8. Ronny Turiaf. (Last week: 7) He missed the Suns game with his hip injury and might not be ready for Wednesday’s game in Houston. But he’s the primary reason the Knicks won their one game this week, in Portland. He was an out-of-nowhere 8-of-9 from the field, and he was even popping jumpers. He was back to bricking those against Sacramento, but it was a nice thought, imagining Ronny Turiaf with a consistent fifteen-foot jumper.
9. Toney Douglas. (Last week: 6) This is probably an unfair drop, considering how much his shoulder is clearly still bothering him. He’s still one of the few guys playing hard on defense, though.
10. Roger Mason Jr. (Last week: 12) Surprise: Mase got some playing time this week, the only of the end-of-benchers to sneak in a game. He did his part by missing two more shots. He is now 1-for-16 from the field this season. And he’s only in the NBA because he can shoot.
11. Timofey Mozgov. (Last week: 9) He didn’t play all week. To remind: He’s signed for two more years after this one.
12. Andy Rautins. (Last week: 10) He didn’t play either this week, but he’s clearly getting hair-grooming tips from Gallinari. He constantly looked like he was just waterboarded. (His face has the same look of perpetual surprise, too.)
13. Anthony Randolph. (Last week: 11) Rumors persist that the Knicks will be able to get a first-round pick for him. If that happens, we might put him in the top five, the week that happens. Heck: He might even get the Knicks two picks.
(Injured: Kelenna Azubuike, Eddy Curry)