New York Knicks Report Card: Early Grades for Team's Key Players

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New York Knicks Report Card: Early Grades for Team's Key Players
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert received their grades today, but will their parents be proud?

Ten games are already in the books, with just 56 remaining, and, no, Dennis Green, the New York Knicks are not who we thought they were.

But at 6-4, things could be worse.

They’ve had their crowning moments, including a nail-biting victory delivered by Santa in Beantown; but there have been some low points as well—how about the uninspired blowout loss to the Andrew Bynum-less Lakers?

The Knicks were yo-yoing, and that yo-yo had just about hit the pavement when the first weekend of January came along. Having lost their last four out of five, panic mode set in; the crotchety Knicks faithful were calling for Mike D’Antoni’s judgment day.

Completely outmuscled and outhustled by the Washington Wizards for the bulk of the contest, it appeared New York was heading straight for rock bottom. But none other than Carmelo Anthony bailed them out down the stretch, and the team narrowly escaped embarrassment in D.C.

Perhaps this was a wake-up call for the Knicks, as Saturday brought with it a 23-point walloping of the Pistons followed by revenge against Charlotte back home at the Garden on Monday. Last night’s slugfest against the 76ers sure wasn’t pretty, but the Knicks emerged triumphant, holding the 7-2 Sixers to a mere 79 points.

The first handful of games had been highlighted by typical D’Antoni-style defense, and it looked like fans were in for another long season. But suddenly, out of the blue, somebody lit a fire under their heinies. And evidently, Iman Shumpert was caught red-handed with the box of matches.

Having reduced their last four opponents to an average of 85.5 points per contest, the additions of Mike Woodson and Tyson Chandler are now beginning to make sense.

Sitting at second in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, no one would have predicted New York would be trailing teams like Indiana and Philadelphia. But then again, who would’ve thought Boston would be 4-5 and struggling to maintain its grip on that final playoff spot?

As is expected with an inconsistent team, the Knicks’ rotational players have been shaky as well. While Anthony can always be counted on to score, the franchise will never reach its postseason goals if the supporting cast doesn’t play its part.

An early ankle injury to Amar’e Stoudemire forced reserve Josh Harrellson into an unexpected major role off the bench. On the other hand, former star point guard Mike Bibby’s on-court action has been minimized as a result of Shumpert’s coming-out party.

While the season’s still young and Baron Davis has yet to burst onto the scene, the first sixth of the schedule has provided a fairly good indication of where the key players stand. Rather than a report card, consider the following assessments as more of a progress report. As we proceed…

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