After yesterday’s exciting victory over the Atlanta Hawks, 114-113, the team improved their record to 34-30 with only two games left in the season.
The Knicks still need to worry about falling in the standings since they are only a half a game ahead of the 76ers for the seventh spot in the East, but they can still improve to sixth if they win their two remaining games and the Orlando Magic lose theirs.
Regardless of how the remainder of the season plays out, the Knicks will have a very tough matchup in the first round of the playoffs, especially without Jeremy Lin.
The Knicks had an extremely up-and-down season, but they seem to be peaking at the right time under coach Mike Woodson, who is 15-6 since taking over as head coach.
Here are my grades and awards for the team this season.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 6.4, APG 2.1, RPG 1.9
Toney Douglas had by far the worst season out of any player on the team. Heading into the season, he was slated to be the starting point guard but ended playing less than 18 minutes per game in only 37 games.
Douglas is still under contract through next season, but his terrible shooting and high turnovers will most likely keep him out of the rotation for good.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 8.7, RPG 4.2, APG 2.5
Landry Fields is having a much worse season than his rookie campaign last year, mainly because of his decline in shooting. Last season he shot 39 percent from three and 77 percent from the free-throw line, but this year he is shooting only 24 percent from three and an abysmal 56 percent from the free-throw line.
Even with his decrease in scoring, Fields could still get back to being a productive player if he returns to playing with the high energy that made him a fan favorite in the first place.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 4.4, RPG 3.9, SPG 0.7
The thing that makes Jared Jeffries a solid bench player is that he knows his role and what he’s good at and doesn’t look to do much else on the court. He understands his job is to play tough defense and not take foolish shots on offense.
Jeffries will miss the rest of the regular season to rest his injured knee, but expect him to be ready to back up Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler once the playoffs start.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 5.7, APG 4.6, SPG 1.1
At times this season, Baron Davis has looked old and slow on the court, and other times he has looked like it’s 2003 again. Like he’s always done, Davis has put on flashy and exciting plays, but they have sometimes been wild and too often result in a turnover.
If Davis can play under control throughout the playoffs and get the ball to Carmelo Anthony and the rest of his scorers in easy scoring positions, the Knicks will definitely have a chance at upsetting someone in the first round.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 8.8, RPG 1.9, 3P% .466
Steve Novak’s shooting this season deserves an A++, but the rest of his game doesn’t match up to his incredible shooting ability. He is a liability on defense and doesn’t create his own shot very well.
Fortunately for him, Novak has an uncanny knack for finding open space behind the three-point line and a jump shot that looks like it’s going to go in every time it leave his hand, so he has created a role for himself this season.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 17.5, RPG 7.9, BPG 0.9
Amar’e Stoudemire just hasn’t been the same player since Carmelo Anthony joined him on the Knicks.
I would expect his scoring average to decrease since he is no longer the primary scorer on the team, but there is no reason for his rebounding and defense to also drop off like it has. On top of that, STAT has suffered a couple of injuries this season and has missed a third of the Knicks’ games.
Now that he’s back in the lineup, if Stoudemire can get on the same page defensively as the rest of the team, the Knicks will be hard for anyone to beat.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 12.1, RPG 4.0, SPG 1.3
The Knicks were very fortunate to land J.R. Smith when he finished playing in China and returned to the NBA after the lockout.
He is truly an amazing scorer to have coming off the bench and has proven he can create his own shot no matter who is guarding him. He also puts in immense effort on defense and in transition, something coach Mike Woodson has praised him for numerous times.
If Smith had been on the team for the entire season, he definitely would have been in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 9.5, RPG 3.1, SPG 1.8
Iman Shumpert has definitely lived up to his reputation as a defensive stopper. Even though he’s only a rookie, Shumpert has already proven with his 1.8 steals per game that he can guard almost any perimeter player and is counted on to defend guys like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose in crunch time.
Shumpert has also excelled at getting to the basket off the dribble, rounding out his game and making him a serious candidate for Rookie of the Year.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 14.6, APG 6.2, SPG 1.6
Jeremy Lin completely took the NBA by storm when he averaged around 25 points per game in his first eight starts with the Knicks. Even when Stoudemire and Anthony returned to the team, Lin still played great ball, increasing his assists while also still scoring at a high rate.
Unfortunately, Lin's season was cut short due to a knee injury. He is expected back by the second round of the playoffs, but it will be extremely tough for the Knicks to make it there without him running the point.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 22.4, RPG 6.2, APG 3.7
No player in the league is on as big of a hot streak as Carmelo Anthony is right now.
Over his last fifteen games, Melo has only scored under 18 points one time and has scored over 30 points eight times. He has even eclipsed the 40-point mark twice during the last nine games.
Even more impressive than his offense, though, has been Anthony's defensive play over this time. He has shown that he is trying to put in extra effort on defense, and it has really paid off as the Knicks now have one of the top defenses in the NBA.
If Melo continues to score at the level he is right now during the playoffs, no team will be able to defeat the Knicks in a seven-game series.
2011-2012 Statistics: PPG 11.3, RPG 10.0, FG% .681
The Knicks couldn't have asked for more out of Tyson Chandler this season.
He was brought in to improve the team's defense and rebounding and did just that. Chandler had 20 double-doubles this season and put in an effort of defense that will definitely put him in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.
On top of that, Chandler led the league in field-goal percentage by an extremely large margin with an average of 68 percent.
Best Offensive Player: Carmelo Anthony
Melo is a double threat whenever he touches the ball, since he is extremely powerful and can drive to the basket with ease, as well as hit tough jump shots all the way out to the three-point line.
Best Defensive Player: Tyson Chandler
Chandler completely changed the culture on defense for the Knicks. He goes all out on every play, and his new teammates have really responded to Chandler's extra effort on the defensive end with increased effort of their own.
Team MVP: Carmelo Anthony
Anthony is the team's go-to scorer. Whenever the game is on the line, you can be sure Melo will be the one taking the crucial shot. This team will only go as far as Carmelo Anthony takes them.