Mike D’Antoni has shortened his rotation, but the rotation, and the players’ performances, are forever changing. Especially when injuries emerge, things can turn in a moment. 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!
Ed. Note: Because he’s better at them than Leitch is, the Knicks Power Rankings will be written the rest of the season by Seth Rosenthal, of the great Posting and Toasting. Enjoy.
1. Amar’e Stoudemire. (Last week: 1) Stoudemire’s last week of basketball would have been ho-hum for the 2010 Amar’e, but it was his best so far in the new year. His averages of 28 points and 53 percent shooting were tops for any three-game span in January, and he did half of it while hobbled by a sprained knee. Oddly enough, Stoudemire came alive after he took a Marvin Williams frontal bone right to his popliteal fossa during Friday’s loss to the Hawks. He finished with 27 points in that one and dropped another 33 in a 40-minute stint on Sunday against Detroit. It was very captainly of the begoggled one to play (dominate, even) through pain, but the guy could really use a break. It’s a good thing there’s an All-Star break coming up so Stoudemire can rest — oh wait, he’s playing in that one. Buns. (Seriously, though: massive congratulations to Amar’e for being the first Knick since Patrick Ewing to start for the East.)
2. Danilo Gallinari. (Last week: 5) Will said last week that Danilo’s willingness to drive was key to both his and the team’s success, and #8 done made him look smart (which is tough, since this is what Will looks like). Gallinari attempted double-digit free throws in each of the Knicks’ wins and took just two in the loss to Atlanta. Il Gallo’s aggression clearly correlates with victory. It also correlates with a couple seriously savage dunks. As the Schambala proverb goes, “Where the rooster crows, there is a village.” That totally applies here.
3. Landry Fields. (Last week: 2) Amar’e wasn’t the only Knick to break out since the last Power Rankings. Fields had his Landriest week in quite some time, including a near triple-double in the win over Miami. He hit shots when they were available, kept possessions alive with rebounds and deflections, and spied upon many a rhinotillexomaniac.
4. Raymond Felton. (Last week: 4) Felton had another off week — a 21-point, thirteen-assist night against the Hawks notwithstanding — and continued to log heavy, heavy minutes despite obvious pain. Raymond is one guy whose game will probably benefit from the break in three weeks. His passes have lost the punch and precision that made him so effective earlier in the season, and his shooting percentages have dropped from each full month to the next. Felton’s best bet is to try and attack the rim more often, but that’s easier said than done when your everything hurts.
5. Timofey Mozgov. (Last week: 12) How do you go from near last in the rankings to top five after having played in just one game? It’s simple. Post 23 points and fourteen boards off the bench, look completely bewildered the whole time, and leave the floor to a standing ovation and chants of your name. Timo went from afterthought to talk of the town (not to mention rotation player) in just 40 minutes, and deservedly so.
6. Shawne Williams. (Last week: 8) Though he missed Sunday’s game, Williams had a meaningful impact in each of the previous two. Against the Heat, he played 27 minutes off the bench and was one of a few Knicks to defend LeBron James quite effectively. Shawne’s night in Atlanta will be remembered for a garbage time fracas with Marvin Williams (and here we were thinking surname bros stuck together), but Extra E also started, played the most minutes of any Knick, and scrapped his way to a double-double. And that’s really why he continues to earn minutes. Even when Shawne’s shot isn’t falling, his contributions on the glass and as a rugged defender are not lost on Mike D’Antoni.
7. Toney Douglas. (Last week: 7) The shots still aren’t falling, but Toney keeps defending, keeps improving his point guard game, and, as a result, keeps getting minutes.
8. Ronny Turiaf. (Last week: 6) Ronny’s minutes fluctuate depending on some combination of opponent size, D’Antoni’s whims, and his own propensity to foul people (four in just eight minutes on Sunday). No matter how much he spins, though, Turiaf is good for some solid D, a few hustle plays, and even a pick-and-roll finish or two. He’s also far and away the only Knick who has any business comparing himself to a lion.
9. Bill Walker. (Last week: 9) You might have missed it, but against the Pistons, Walker actually passed up a couple three-point attempts in favor of driving and drawing fouls. That might not sound exciting, but what if I told you that Bill’s four free throws constituted more than one fifth of his production at the line this season? He’s attempted 90 three-pointers and just nineteen free throws in 38 games played. Walker is perfectly useful from behind the arc, but continuing to utilize his athleticism off the dribble might earn Bill some more burn.
10. Anthony Randolph. (Last week: 10) Anthony played! With Williams and Wilson Chandler sitting, the youngest, gangliest Knick got to spin for the first time in weeks against Detroit. In just eight minutes, Randolph showcased his aerial talents (five boards and a block), but also looked pretty helpless in the halfcourt offense. Anthony is a force in transition, but once the offense sets up, he just can’t figure out where to stand, when to cut, or what to do with his hands. There needs to be a new basketball league with a five-second shot clock and thirteen-foot rims so Randolph’s potential can be fulfilled.
11. Andy Rautins. (Last week: 13) All the injuries weren’t enough to spring Rautins from the bench, but at least he’s got something to add to his Netflix cue to fill all that downtime.
12. Roger Mason Jr. (Last week: 11) Roger didn’t get to spin either, but at least he’s got his pizza-condiment game all figured out.
(Injured: Wilson Chandler, Kelenna Azubuike, and Eddy Curry, although his body art did inspire this week’s headline.)