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2012 All-Star Break: Grading Each New York Knicks Player

Brian RonanContributor IIFebruary 23, 2012

2012 All-Star Break: Grading Each New York Knicks Player

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    The Knicks had very high expectations coming into the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season.

    However, up until the emergence of Jeremy Lin and the media frenzy that followed, they were drastically underperforming.

    The Knicks were 9-17 before Lin, and the sharks were circling both Mike D'Antoni and Carmelo Anthony.

    Roster changes have been common this year with the additions of Mike Bibby, Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis, Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.

    Some players have far exceeded what anyone would have thought they were capable of, while others are still struggling to find their groove in the Garden.

    Also, let me say this here: There are zero Lin puns in this article—you're welcome!

Jeremy Lin, PG

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    A+

    Obviously Jeremy Lin gets the highest grade on this team.

    He has risen from complete obscurity into full-fledged, worldwide superstardom.

    He's gone from the D-League to the A-list practically overnight: You know you've made it when your name gets attached to Kim Kardashian.

    However, Lin is not all hype: He has the skill set to flourish under Mike D'Antoni.

    That system brought Steve Nash from two-time All-NBA First Team to two-time NBA League MVP.

    Lin has the court vision and passing skills to find his surrounding offensive weapons.

    His chemistry and humility have allowed him to gel with the team flawlessly, and have changed the atmosphere in the New York locker room.

    He's the piece that Knicks fans were calling for, and now they're chanting his name in the Garden. 

Landry Fields, SG

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    B

    Fields hit a slump at the end of last year when Carmelo joined the Knicks.

    In fact, a lot of players did, as their shots and scoring opportunities dropped drastically.

    Now, he's back to the same numbers he had early last year—but on a deeper team.

    He averages 10 points a game, which is good because he is now sharing time with both Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith.

    One of his best features is his rebounding ability. He's averaging 4.5 boards a game—the best of any guard in New York.

    He is a solid player who has played well this year. 

Carmelo Anthony, SF

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    C-

    Carmelo Anthony is one of the most talented scorers in the NBA, and the reason that such a talented player gets such a mediocre grade is not entirely his fault.

    Before Jeremy Lin was in the starting lineup, Anthony was tasked with handling the ball. Instead of playing small forward, he was forced to play "point forward."

    This did not suit Anthony's skills, and the entire team suffered.

    Anthony also receives this grade for his constant need to shoot every time he gets the ball.

    His three-point percentage is a mediocre 30 percent, and his field goal percentage is 39.9, which is considerably better. He needs to have better shot selection and allow the offense to develop to get better shots. 

    That being said, I think Anthony's grade will improve.

    When the Knicks combine the positive team chemistry that Lin has created with the lethal scoring ability of Carmelo, they will be dangerous.

Amare Stoudemire, PF

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    B+

    Amare has not played up to the level he was at last year when the Garden was filled with chants of MVP, but he has played well—particularly with the addition of Jeremy Lin.

    He has scored over 10 points in six of seven games with Lin. 

    He has played well in a more diminished role since the arrival of both Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.

    He hasn't taken as many shots, but he is still averaging 17 points a game. He is a scoring force in the paint, and the offense is more effective when it runs through him.

    Amare has also increased his defensive output this year with the addition of Chandler.

    Granted, that's not saying much, but the Knicks need any help they can get on the defensive side of the ball. 

Tyson Chandler, C

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    A-

    Tyson Chandler was brought to New York to complement Amare Stoudemire and bring a defensive toughness that the locker room was missing.

    He has done this exceptionally well, and is in the top 20 in the league in blocks and rebounds.

    Amare is a great offensive player, but he has never been known for his defense. Tyson, therefore, has been the perfect addition to the team.

    Offensively, he is first in the league in field goal percentage.

    The Knicks have a roster full of players that love to shoot at every opportunity they get, and having a player who makes the shots they take is incredibly useful.

    "High percentage shots" is not in the vocabulary of most Knickerbockers, so it's good that Tyson is familiar with the phrase.

Mike Bibby, PG

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    D

    Mike Bibby has slowly become expendable to the Knicks.

    He was brought into camp to compete with Iman Shumpert and Toney Douglas for the starting point guard role, but Jeremy Lin has ended that competition, while the return of Baron Davis has all but sealed the backup job.

    In the last 10 games, he has played in only five, averaging less than 12.6 minutes a game.

    He has scored nine points in the last month. He has only broken double figures twice this season.

    He is a serviceable backup should injuries hit the Knicks hard, but don't expect him to play a crucial role or even any role for the rest of 2012.  

Baron Davis, PG

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    Incomplete

    Baron Davis has been injured for all but the last two games of this season.

    His contributions have been minimal at best. He receives an incomplete because the Knicks were aware that he would miss considerable time when they signed him.

    Jeremy Lin has reduced the importance of Baron Davis' good health, but he could still play a crucial role at backup from here on out.

Toney Douglas, PG

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    D

    Toney Douglas came into the year competing with Iman Shumpert for the starting PG role and failed to make any sort of positive impression on fans.

    He has made only 24 of his 102 three-point shot attempts.

    That is abysmal.

    Why is a player of Douglas' skill taking that many shots when there are offensive superstars on the team, such as Stoudemire and Anthony. 

    Personally, I believe that the Knicks should have cut Douglas instead of Ronaldo Balkman with the signing of J.R. Smith. They have plenty of depth at guard and could use the size of Balkman.

    Douglas has only played 10 total minutes since Jeremy Lin took the starting job. 

J.R. Smith, SG

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    Incomplete

    I think the J.R. Smith signing has the potential to backfire on the Knicks.

    How many players do they need on their team that take a ton of low percentage shots, don't play defense and don't pass the ball?

    I won't ever argue with the man's talent—he has that in spades.

    However, I question whether or not he will be a good fit for the Knicks. 

    On the positive side, J.R. Smith can shoot with the best of them. He has incredible range and can score from anywhere on the court. He also has the ability to drive and create off the dribble.

    Hopefully, he will decide to pass to either Chandler or Stoudemire instead of keeping the ball, as both are powerful finishers. 

    The signing of J.R. Smith has the potential to make him either a valuable scoring machine off the bench—or a black hole of shots that destroy what little offensive efficiency the Knicks have been able to create this season. 

Iman Shumpert, SG

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    B

    Shumpert came into the season, much like Toney Douglas, looking to secure the starting point guard role.

    By now, it's become clear who has won that job, but Shumpert has still played a valuable role for the Knicks.

    He is a solid defender—something the Knicks desperately need in their backcourt.

    He has the potential, due to his size and athletic ability, to be one of the best defensive point guards in the league.  

    Offensively, he is a solid finisher, but he still takes some questionable shots.

    He's only a rookie, so he will most likely work out the offensive kinks with time.

    Shumpert's a great young prospect with the potential to be something special in the long run.

    This year he has played well, averaging 10 points, three steals and three rebounds a game.

    Solid numbers for a player that splits time with Landry Fields and J.R. Smith. 

Bill Walker, SG

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    C+

    Bill Walker is a solid bench player who, unfortunately like many Knicks, takes far too many three-point shots.

    The addition of J.R. Smith may diminish his role greatly in the second half of the season, as they are both players who rely almost entirely on their outside shooting.

    He has the best three-point shooting percentage for the Knicks.

    However, he is 91st in the league: That is a stat that does not bode well.

    Outside of his shooting, Walker is entirely useless.

    Defensively, he is a liability. He has next to no penetration skills and cannot create of the dribble.

    Walker still logs decent minutes since the appearance of Lin, Smith and Davis over the past few weeks, but his offensive production has decreased. 

Steve Novak, SF

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    A

    That's right—Steve Novak gets an A.

    Compared to most of his teammates, he pales in comparison in athleticism, dribbling and most basketball skills.

    Except shooting.

    The man is deadly accurate— by far the best shooter on the team.

    His minutes have increased as the season has progressed, and he has gained double figures in six of 10 starts.

    He ranks in the top 20 in three-point shooting and is incredibly valuable off the bench.

    He is not afraid to take the big shot when it's needed, and I think he will play a much bigger role as the season goes on.

    The combination of him and J.R. Smith coming off the bench will be lethal.

    Also, doing Aaron Rodgers' "Discount Double Check" after he drilled a three against Dallas?

    Absolutely amazing.

    The Garden went wild—the people love him. 

Jared Jeffries, PF

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    D

    Jeffries averages 25 minutes a game and yet still manages to average only six and six a game.

    For a player that stands at 6'11" and 240 pounds, there should be a lot more production out of him.

    He has a penchant for missing easy buckets. One positive for Jeffries is his ability to steal the ball. He averages 2.6 steals per game, particularly good for a man of his size. 

    Worst of all, his name is Jared, and his production is so poor.

    He has made it far too easy to make the "He went to Jared?" joke. Honestly, I can't think of any reason greater than this for Jeffries to be off the team.  

Josh Harrellson, C

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    C+

    His season has been interrupted by injury but before he went down, Harrellson showed something that the Knicks needed badly—someone willing to crash the boards, take some contact and willing to give it right back.

    He's a good fit off the bench to give the Knicks, a team that is deep with perimeter players, someone who can come into the game and get rough. 

    He only averaged 5.3 points per game before getting hurt, but he also averaged 4.3 rebounds.

    The fact that he averaged 3.1 defensive rebounds is a good number because, outside of Amare and Chandler, there is not a lot of talented rebounders on the squad.

    He gives Mike D'Antoni a different kind of player to bring off the bench, instead of the legion of shooters that are currently on the roster.  

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