With the New York Knicks' season's first month in the books, we have a general idea of what to expect from the boys in the orange and blue. They currently sit atop the Atlantic Division, and at 12-4 they are only a half game behind the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies for the league's best record.
Aside from Carmelo Anthony, who's putting up MVP-caliber numbers through the first 16 games, Mike Woodson's club has been led by tremendous point guard play and outstanding three-point shooting.
Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd have orchestrated the Knicks offense better than any expert could've expected, and Anthony's newfound dedication as a whole has transformed the team into one that can compete with Miami for the East's top spot.
Here's a ranking of the guys that have propelled them to where they are one month in.
Camby has yet to play any meaningful minutes this season.
For Marcus Camby, it's been a struggle to even get on the court so far this season.
He suffered a calf injury at the beginning of camp in October, which seated him for essentially the entire preseason. He subsequently faced conditioning issues, and has played more than 10 minutes in a game just once this season.
In the limited burn he's gotten, he hasn't looked to be in top basketball shape. This was prominent against the Brooklyn Nets last month, when he failed to grab a single board or score at all. He was abused on the glass as Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans out-hustled the 38-year-old center for rebounds.
According to ESPN New York, Camby is now battling a sore left foot that will sideline him on a day-to-day basis.
As the fourth-highest-paid Knick, Camby still has a lot to prove. The potential of having a defensively-dominant Camby anchoring the second team the way that Chandler does the starters is incredibly promising. But we may never get to witness that potential if Camby doesn't work himself into full health some time soon.
Copeland appears to be working his way into the rotation.
Chris Copeland had to play his way into Mike Woodson's rotation, just as he had to work his way onto Woodson's Knicks during the preseason. In the campaign's early portion, Copeland was no more than a garbage-time victory cigar for the Knicks.
In the team's last three games, however, Copeland has played more than 10 minutes in each—something he didn't do in any of the previous 13 outings.
In the last three games, he's shot 9-of-15, highlighted with a career-high eight points against the Phoenix Suns. Nothing record-breaking, but baby steps for the team's 28-year-old rookie. The games marked the first three times Copeland has appeared in the first half for New York.
The neophyte still has plenty to work on. His defense is incredibly porous, and his shot selection is more J.R. Smith than Pablo Prigioni.
In the exhibition season, Copeland proved that he has the potential to be a scorer. If he polishes his repertoire a bit more in his limited minutes, the Knicks could have a nice piece to the puzzle in Copeland.
White hasn't provided us with much to talk about this season.
James White has been the last guard off Mike Woodson's bench, which has no shortage of 1s and 2s. He's managed to make cameo appearances in each game since Nov. 23, primarily due to Jason Kidd's absence.
White provides lock-down defense, which is one of Woodson's points of emphasis. Locking up has been one of the team's weaknesses as the season has progressed.
White's limited role is more a testament to the quality of the Knicks bench than an assessment of his skill. With Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith, Ronnie Brewer, Pablo Prigioni and soon Iman Shumpert all ahead of him on the depth chart, regular rotation minutes will be tough to come across for the man they call Flight.
But that doesn't mean he won't bring the highlights. In his season-high 15 minutes against the New Orleans Hornets, White reminded us of his remarkable athleticism, when he threw down during the team's 102-80 rout in the Big Easy.
Thomas has started recently, but still barely touching the floor.
Not much was expected of Kurt Thomas as the season began, and he's more or less played up (or down) to expectations.
He started the season playing normal rotation minutes for a backup forward, but played his way out of Mike Woodson's lineup after Rasheed Wallace's emergence.
He was inserted into the starting lineup following Jason Kidd's back spasms, but never played more than eight minutes in a game until Sunday's game against the Phoenix Suns. In those 19 minutes, Thomas scored two points and added six rebounds.
After Amar'e Stoudemire's return in about three weeks, it'll be tough for Woodson to find minutes for Thomas, the NBA's oldest active player.
Novak's shooting slump is over. Now it's a matter of improving the rest of his game.
Steve Novak endured the first slump of his Knicks career earlier this season. It proved especially troublesome since the sharpshooter brings essentially no other skill to the MSG hardwood.
From Nov. 4 to Nov. 20, last year's best shooter from downtown shot just 28 percent from beyond the arc, while averaging just 1.5 rebounds.
That slump appeared to come to an end against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 25. Since then, he's shot 13-for-22 from distance, or a 59 percent clip. He's also put up more respectable rebounding numbers in that time, at 2.8 per game, and has recorded one steal on average, too.
Having a 60-percent three-point shooter in his back pocket isn't a bad look for Mike Woodson, and he's acted accordingly. In the last three games, Novak has played his most minutes of the season, including a 40-minute outing against his hometown Milwaukee Bucks.
Prigioni has stepped his game up in recent weeks.
There was a definite adjustment period for the 35-year-old rookie as he adjusted to NBA basketball, but it's safe to say Pablo Prigioni has settled into his role as a Knick.
Through the season's first 12 games, Prigioni was reluctant to shoot, and the results weren't all that great when he did decide to pull the trigger. He shot jut 36 percent from the field and 19 percent from three-point land. He dished out 2.6 assists in 13 minutes per game.
In November's last two games, however, we saw more of what Prigioni showed us in the preseason. He still averaged a modest five attempts per game in 27 minutes, but shot 78 percent, and 80 percent from three. He added six assists and a steal on average in those two games.
He's appeared more confident on the court, and the team has benefited from the Argentinian maestro's developing swagger. But they may have to rely on Prigioni a bit more in the coming days.
The Knicks will need Prigioni to perform well in the immediate future, with both Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd presumably missing time.
'Sheed continues to impress us at the age of 38.
Rasheed Wallace was added to Mike Woodson's roster to bring mentoring and experience to a new-look Knicks team. At the age of 38, and after two seasons out of the league, it was unexpected that Wallace would spend much time on the court, let alone play at a high level.
Well, in typical 'Sheed fashion, his play is telling us just how wrong we all were.
In the month of November, he averaged eight points and four rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He's provided steady defense and rebounding on a team that lacks in both areas.
Offensively, Wallace has been shaky. He's proven that he can dominate in the post, but instead averaged three three-point attempts per game last month. If he can adjust his mentality on that end, the team would benefit and have a much more well-rounded offense.
Overall, however, Rasheed has brought more to the Knicks than anyone could've projected. It's yet to be seen if he can sustain his high level of play, but with Amar'e Stoudemire returning in a few weeks, Wallace's role will likely diminish a bit in the near future.
The addition of Brewer packed the most value of any signing.
The Knicks scooped Ronnie Brewer off the scrap heap toward the end of the summer, agreeing to terms with the former Chicago Bull for one year at the veteran's minimum salary. To date, Brewer may be the most valuable deal made this offseason.
He's brought the impeccable pressure on defense, and is also knocking down shots at a rate that even Brewer couldn't have expected.
In November, the career 26 percent three-point shooter maintained an incredible 41 percent mark from downtown, while averaging a steal per game.
He's provided consistent defense on a team that's struggled on that end. Any addition he packs on offense, for $1,069,509, can be viewed as house money.
Chandler leads the NBA in FG% at 71 percent.
After learning that Amar'e Stoudemire would be missing a chunk of the season's early portion, Tyson Chandler's role on the Knicks became that much more prominent. Through the month of November, the center has delivered.
Though his rebounding numbers are down a bit from last season, which contributes to the team's glaring weakness in that area this year, Chandler has provided an impact on the offensive end near the basket while continuing strong defending.
Chandler has also improved his ability to keep his lips zipped on the court. So far this season, he's only been T'd up once. Last year he accumulated a career-high 11 technicals in just 66 games.
Highlights for Chandler included a 21-point and 13-rebound performance in his return to Dallas, and a season-high 28 points to go along with 10 boards against the rival Brooklyn Nets.
Smith has cooled off, but still providing a lift to the offense.
J.R. Smith got off to a blazing start this season, by shooting 48 percent and 60 percent on three-pointers in the team's first eight games. In that time, Smith averaged 16 points with five rebounds and three assists.
He came back down to earth as November came to a close, however. In the month's final 10 days, J.R.'s three-point percentage dipped to a more realistic 32 percent, while he shot just 38 percent from the field.
After an encouraging 9-of-14 shooting night against Washington to end the first month of play, Smith kicked off December with a putrid 1-for-11 afternoon against the Suns.
We've seen Good J.R. and Bad J.R in just about equal portions this season. If he can limit Bad J.R.'s appearances as the season trudges forward, he'll see his name creep forward in future months' rankings.
We'll see how Felton reacts to his latest injury.
Excluding Raymond Felton's inexplicably bad performance against Brooklyn, he's helped New York's chances in nearly every game this season.
In 42 minutes against the Nets, Felton shot a brutal 3-of-19, and totaled eight points, five assists and five turnovers. It was one of the worse games a Knick has played in recent memory.
If you can extract the nationally-televised Brooklyn game from your memory, you'd realize that Felton has been exceptional for New York this season. Up until the matchup against Deron Williams and Brooklyn, Felton was shooting 44 percent from the field and from beyond the arc, and dishing out 7.3 assists per game.
His defense hasn't been too remarkable in either direction, but his 1.5 steals per game are second on the team to Jason Kidd's 2.1.
On Sunday against Phoenix, Felton suffered an injury to his hand, and announced himself as day-to-day. With Thursday's matchup against the Miami Heat looming, and Jason Kidd still sidelined with his ailing back, Felton's health will be key going forward for New York.
Kidd has provided the biggest impact on the team this year.
Aside from Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks' best player in the season's first month was one of the most unexpected.
Jason Kidd performed past anybody's expectations in his first dozen games before his back flared up. As the starting 2-guard, Kidd shot over 50 percent from the field and from three-point range, and added 3.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds, with a team-leading 2.1 steals per game. He's turned the ball over eight times this year.
Kidd kept the Knicks offense under control in his 12 November games. When he went down prior to the game versus Brooklyn, the offense almost instantly turned stagnant, as if he was the sole guard capable of facilitating.
The Knicks will need him back sooner than later, especially with Raymond Felton listed as day-to-day after a bone bruise.
Anthony is part of early MVP talks this season.
Carmelo Anthony comes in at the spot he'll likely maintain all year long: No. 1.
In November, he put his new team-first mentality on display. He's been playing with fire on both ends of the floor, and to say the Knicks have benefited would be understatement of the year.
He's scoring the ball at a rapid pace. In November he racked up four 30-point games, and three more with 29. He's scored at least 20 in all but one game.
He averaged seven rebounds in November playing the power forward, and is providing great post defense on bigger 4s.
Late in games, Anthony was a little rusty. He had chances to defeat the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets late in the fourth quarter, but missed jump-shots both nights.
Understand though, that without Anthony, the Knicks wouldn't be in a position anywhere near as favorable as their current 12-4 record leaves them, even if Amar'e Stoudemire was available. That's what lands him the top spot on this list.
For 'Melo, a more intriguing list would be one ranking early MVP candidates, which he is clearly one of at this juncture.