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) The weekend’s home-and-home with the 76ers showcased Amar’e’s offense at its face-palming worst and at its pants-wetting best (oddly enough, it did the same for the whole team). His stat lines from both nights — twenty-ish shots, seven rebounds, three turnovers, and ten-ish free throws in around 37 minutes — are pretty much identical, with one major difference. In Friday’s loss, Stoudemire got unfriendly rolls at the rim, misfired from mid-range, and finished just with just 21 points on 7–19 shooting. Just two days later, against the exact same team, the cap’n sank damn near everything and dropped a season-high 41. What gives? Are the MSG rims kinder than those in Philly? Did better teamwide shooting give Amar’e more room to operate? Did the post-loss fury hone his skills in the next one? Whatever it was, something stirred within Stoudemire’s soul to trigger an afternoon of otherworldly efficiency. Whether something really clicked or it was but a blip remains to be seen.
2. Danilo Gallinari. (Last week: 2) Good things happen when Gallo handles the ball, but he doesn’t do it nearly enough. Each of the last three games featured a stretch during the first half in which Danilo did most of the dribbling in the set offense and just made plays: sweet dunks, finishes with contact, and dishes to open teammates. For whatever reason, he wasn’t featured nearly as much in second halves. Given that Gallinari is pretty much the only Knick besides Amar’e who ever warrants a second defender, you’d think it would behoove the whole squad to look his way when in need. If you give a rooster a basketball, he’s going to do some excellent basketball things.
3. Landry Fields. (Last week: 3) It doesn’t get Landrier than Fields’s 25-point, ten-rebound outing on Sunday against the Sixers. The rookie brought the usual rebounding and finishing, and also sank five three-pointers, three of which helped seal the deal in the fourth quarter. In fact, according to the Philly broadcasters (as related by P&T’s Charlie Osborn), Fields leads the entire NBA in fourth-quarter three-point accuracy at over 65 percent. There’s nothing on the Internet to confirm that that’s best in the league, but it’s totally believable, right?
4. Raymond Felton. (Last week: 4) The work-weary Felton looked livelier this past week, driving and defending with considerably more verve (not to mention success) than previously. If there’s one thing that still irks Knick fans about Raymond’s play, though, it’s those reckless pull-up threes. We got used to watching Felton drain stop-and-pop daggers in the season’s first few months, but those legs lose some stop and plenty of pop when you’re leading the team in minutes for three months. Raymond could do a service to the Knicks and to his own shooting percentage by cutting out the
pull-ups pull-ups pull-ups.
5. Timofey Mozgov. (Last week: 5) Mozgov’s 23-point, fourteen-rebound breakout last week was a tough act to follow, but Timo still worked his way to sturdy defense, tough rebounds, and a spot in the starting lineup. After watching his Knicks get pummeled by Elton Brand and rebounders, Mike D’Antoni called upon his Russian to perform (this is called “wielding tha AK” by absolutely nobody), and perform he did. Brand still got his, but Mozgov’s eight rebounds and three blocks (and even his six fouls) were key to New York’s win. If you haven’t been reading Alexander Chernykh’s translations of Timo’s blog posts (or the original Russian, if that’s your cup of чай), you totally should.
6. Toney Douglas. (Last week: 7) Toney Douglas is doing what Toney Douglas do pretty reliably these days, but it’s WTD doesn’t that has the Knicks shopping for guard help. For all of his attributes, the guy just can’t play point guard without a babysitter, which is why Raymond Felton needs extra ice these days. Douglas hasn’t proven that he can adequately spell Felton, and New York’s offensive collapse in Friday’s fourth quarter perfectly exemplified that.
7. Shawne Williams. (Last week: 6) The curious Achilles heel to Shawne Williams’s downtown prowess is that he occasionally loses faith. Shawne’s been known to pass up poops from outside in favor of inauspicious rimward jaunts. That tendency toward gun shyness came to the forefront on Friday, when Extra E declined a decent three-point look and shanked a floater instead. Shawne’s postgame remorse was more than a little heartbreaking:
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said glumly. “It was a dumb, young, mental mistake that I made. The fellas might not think that, but I think that, because I just made one prior to that, to even get it to 2.”
In the next game, both Shawne’s attempts were from outside. Bet you each a nickel he doesn’t attempt more than three two-pointers before the next Power Rankings.
8. Wilson Chandler. (Last week: Injured) Wilson’s back in the rotation but still seems a tad hesitant and a little glummer than usual (which is tough for somebody who has the same blank expression after a dunk and after a nap). Whether he’s still hurting or irked by rumorous articles like the one just linked, something’s off.
9. Ronny Turiaf. (Last week: 8) Turiaf, who needs to do more stretching before games or something, went down with a sprained ankle and did not play on Sunday. That means the Knicks were 0–2 last week in games that Ronny played and 1–0 in games he didn’t. The guy is clearly a parasite on an otherwise flawless basketball club. Seriously, though, the return of Chandler and rebirth of Mozgov are going to cut into Turiaf’s already wavering minutes, even once that ankle de-sprains. Ronny will surely be nothing but excellent (and not at all parasitic) in any role he’s asked to fill.
10. Bill Walker. (Last week: 9) We know Mike D’Antoni has a thing for short rotations, so Walker might be the odd man out for the time being. His minutes dwindled from fifteen to three to zero in each of the week’s games. It’s a kind of a shame, because Bill was just starting to play with a hint of aggression.
11. Andy Rautins. (Last week: 11) Andy played! In garbage time against the Mavs, Mr. Rautins got to spin for a moment, had himself a very sporty steal, and coolly drained one of his two free throws. Very impressive, Andy. In other news, an individual crueler than I might be inclined to call him “Raut,” since those are the only type of games in which he gets minutes.
12. Anthony Randolph. (Last week: 10) Anthony played too! And he even hit a three! In fact, Anthony’s been smoking teammates in long distance shoot-outs! Okay, Anthony!
13. Roger Mason Jr. (Last week: 12) Meanwhile, renowned marksman Roger Mason Jr. has yet to sink a three this season. Poor Roger.
(Injured: Kelenna Azubuike, Eddy Curry)